Title: Tempests and Slaughter
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
I’ve loved Tamora Pierce’s writing for well over a decade now, so I was thrilled when this book was announced. Although it published earlier this year, I was only just able to get my hands on a copy and I’m so HAPPY! Arram Draper’s story will not disappoint Pierce fans one bit. Arram is a child prodigy in mage school. He’s significantly younger than the students at his level and his abilities with spells continue to exceed expectations. This story slots in early in the Tamora Pierce lexicon of stories, bringing us the history of a prevalent character in later series. It’s so refreshing to return to her fantastic world. Her stories are always coming of age stories of characters who’s mark upon her world is great, and Arram’s is no different. He takes everything in stride, learning more and more. He’s a big bookwork who’s a bit naive at times, but his heart is pure and is always in the right place. The friendships he forms are steadfast and lovely, although they are not without their bumps in the road as well.
My only hesitation with this particular story is the peculiar and seemingly incomplete sexual awakening that Arram undergoes as he comes of age. This whole story spans a significant number of years, so we get to follow him through puberty. This whole aspect of the story seemed a bit clumsy and out of place to me. It was the only part of the story where I felt pulled out of the world because it felt a tad clunky as it doesn’t really drive the plot forward. I love that the book moves to discuss puberty, but I don’t know if it was approached as well as it could have been. Pierce begins to introduce Arram’s self-discovery of his body as it goes through changes through maturity, however I couldn’t really see how this tied into the story as a whole, or why it was necessary to the plot for us to witness this particular moment of his young life when, at least in this book, it does not manifest into anything greater. Had it tied into the plot a bit more, then it would have been agood body-positive and learning moment.
Aside from this, the book was fantastic. Pierce is a master world builder. She’s been writing for years and her world remains steadfast and cohesive. It’s magical and immersive and always so enjoyable. She writes intricate characters in stories spanning years so we get to see them grow from childhood into adulthood. Readers can really grow to love the characters and to build an enormous mental picture of all aspects of this world. I cannot wait for book 2 of The Numair Chronicles to come out. Tempests and Slaughter seems to really be setting the stage for the following books in the series. There’s not a ton of action and a lot of the story is just getting to know the characters and setting up context, but I have a feeling we’ll really start to see things come to a head in subsequent books.
Young readers of fantasy everywhere, I encourage you to read any and all of Tamora Pierce’s book. I own nearly all of them (I’ve slacked slightly on the Beka Cooper series sadly). Pierce’s writing is beautiful and her world is all-consuming. It’s a great intro to fantasy and she’s got some kickass female characters in her other series. Would highly recommend.