It’s been years since I read any Tamora Pierce. Back in my early teenage years, her Song of the Lioness and Circle of Magic books found me, and it felt as if I’d been waiting for them all my life. So I’m happy to say that coming back to her with Tempests and Slaughter felt just like slipping into a comfy, familiar jumper. I needed this book. Life was throwing shit at me, and being able to escape into Pierce’s world when I had a free moment was wonderful.
But! While I have read some of Pierce’s Tortall novels, I haven’t by any means read them all—and most importantly I haven’t read her Immortals series, which means I hadn’t met Numair Salmalín before. And so, oblivious as I am, I wasn’t initially aware that Tempests and Slaughter (and the books that will follow it) are a prequel series that elaborates Numair’s origin story. So if, unlike me, you can read Daine’s story before this, I’d recommend it.
Even so, I really enjoyed this book. I’m a sucker for a good school story, and that’s what Tempests and Slaughter is. The book is set in and around the University of Carthak in Carthak City, heart of the Carthaki Empire. Our protagonist, Arram Draper, is only ten at the beginning of the book, and exceptionally magically gifted. We get to watch Arram grow from child prodigy to a young mage of immense promise, as well as find his feet and his place in the hierarchy of the school and the world.
Let me tell you now: this is an absolute brick. If you’re not down for a long read where, truthfully, not a whole lot of very dramatic stuff happens, maybe this isn’t the book for you. But if you just really want to sink into another world, full of little details and interesting characters, then this is exactly up your alley.
But let me be clear. I’m not one of those who think just because the sky isn’t exploding that nothing’s happening. Things happen in this novel—even quite important things that shape the fate of empires. But Arram? He’s just a very clever schoolboy. Things that happen to people who aren’t him and in places where he’s not don’t seem like the biggest deal. Even when things do happen to him, the greater significance isn’t immediately clear.
Even if Arram can be a bit dense about things that happen in his vicinity, he’s still a perfectly charming companion to spend a few hundred pages with. Snuggle up with this book in the shortening evenings ahead or escape your commute with it—it’s a nice world to return to.