Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tempests and slaughter by Tamora Pierce

They say heroes are made, not born - but when you have a powerful magical gift it is fair to say that sometimes they are born too.  Arram Draper is only a child when he begins his magical studies at the Imperial University of Carthak, but it soon becomes clear that he has a powerful gift that needs extra supervision so he finds himself with the dubious honour of being a special case.  Despite the sparks of jealously that appear over the years from students who are less advanced and don't believe a child should be studying alongside them, his early years of study also provide a great deal of reward.  

It is a little difficult to tell which is the greatest reward - being able to study more advanced magic and keep his busy mind occupied, or forming a friendship with the other advanced students Varice and Ozorne.  There are some who would think that a commoner like Arram shouldn't spend time with an heir to the Imperial throne, but as Ozorne is a spare prince unlikely to actually rule it is not a problem for others.  As the years pass, and their friendship deepens, it becomes harder and harder for new people to join their group which also leads to some resentment.  As the years pass and Arram learns more about his magic and what he can do with it, he also learns more about the dangers of being too smart for his own good.  There are forces at work in the Carthaki Empire and not all of them are good.

Tempests and slaughter is the long-awaited first book in the Numair chronicles and it was a real pleasure to learn more about the child that grew into the man we meet in some of the Tortall books.  This is definitely not a Tamora Pierce novel for younger readers, as it covers themes that younger readers may struggle to understand and/or cope with.  In many ways Tempests and slaughter is similar to the later books in the Circle universe, covering themes of friendship, betrayal, conspiracies, and more than a little bit of gore through gladiatorial fights and medical procedures.  I thoroughly enjoyed this first outing with a young Arram and his friends, and you can already see the little hints of the tragedy and drama that is to come.  Another masterful story from Tamora Pierce that had me hooked from cover to cover.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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