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Book Review

Book Cover

Tempests and Slaughter


Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Harper Voyager
422 pages
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 830435 5
Publication Date: 04 April 2019

I always find it odd that, as a genre, fantasy books, with the limitlessness of imagination, mostly circle around the same old tropes. I only mention this because after reading Tamora Pierce’s Tempest and Slaughter (2018. 422 pages) it got me to thinking. Do fantasy novelists just rehash ideas all the time or are they unfairly constrained and compared to a few insanely popular books?

Her current book, which has now been released in paperback, is a sequel to her previous series of novels and takes a look at the childhood of a particular Mage. Arram Draper, who has a strong gift for magic is sent to the Imperial University to study. After a particularly disastrous demonstration of his nascent powers he is advanced in his studies, which brings him into contact with a young prince Ozorne and the beautiful Varice.

With that set up the book will inevitably be compared to Harry Potter. There are many similarities between the two books, though the Potter books had more direction and a greater emphasis on a particular adventure. Pierce’s novel is much more meandering, often spending a lot of time with the characters but not appearing to advance the plot or provide for much of an antagonist. I'm guessing that Pierce intends for this to be part of a greater series and so there is little rush to get into the main thrust of whatever arc appears.

I’m not saying that the book is bad. Piece writes well and her characters are engaging, but with the omnipresent success of J. K. Rowling writing, anything about a school for wizards will always bring you back to perhaps unnecessary and potentially incorrect comparisons. At least Pierce didn’t fall into the trap of having Arram possessing a secret power, fans of the previous novels will know that he is powerful and this novel shows that, although his talent is wild, it is already far advanced of his fellow pupils.

The setting is faux Roman, which is a nice change from the overused faux medieval setting and I honestly didn’t mind that little appeared to be happening until the last third of the book. Overall, it doesn’t add much to the genre, but the style is easy to read for a young adult novel and the content will be of interest to fans of her previous series.

Although the book is tied in to previously released stories, you don’t actually have had to have read any of them as this works very well as a stand-alone.


Charles Packer

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