Remember how I was so excited that Battle Magic was coming out? I have to say, I have learned my lesson. FOOLISHLY I did not pre-order this book, which was released in Canada on October 1st (not Sept 24th, as it was in the States). I intended to go immediately to my local bookstore and purchase a copy but ALAS they didn’t actually receive the book until OCTOBER 4th – and I only found it available at ONE store DOWNTOWN. Much trials and tribulations and waiting. After finally getting a copy of the book, I then had to wait to read it (well, only a bit) because it was our date night and we were out for dinner, and then I had to work yesterday (Saturday). Happily I did have enough time (from taking the subway home and reading a bit before bed and then after work Saturday afternoon) to finish the book (though not in time for my usual Saturday blog post).
After that rather lengthy preface, let me just say that it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. I LOVE Tamora Pierce and I definitely loved this book.
A bit of background if you’re unfamiliar with this author / the set of circle books: At first there was the Circle of Magic (Sandry’s Book, Tris’s Book, Daja’s Book, and Briar’s Book), where you meet four interesting young people with ambient magic (i.e. magic that works through things in the real world, as opposed to academic magic that needs spells and chants and books and such). The four meet at Winding Circle Temple in Emelan, where they happen to find teachers suitable for their unique talents. They are besieged by earthquakes, pirate attacks, wildfires, and blue pox, and form a deep bond through these trials. The next series, The Circle Opens (Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold fire, and Shatterglass), follows each of these characters as they step out from being students into being fully accredited mages. Sandry stays home, but Briar, Daja, and Tris all accompany their teachers in separate directions, to see the world and learn what they can. In the Circle Opens, the four find themselves saddled with students of their own, along with the challenges they meet on the road (or at home) – like murderers, arsonists, and interfering nobles. This is followed by The Circle Reforged series, The Will of the Empress, in which the four are reunited and accompany Sandry to distant Namorn, where the Empress is determined to keep Sandry (who happens to be a very wealthy heiress and cousin to the Empress) and her friends as part of her own court. Things are complicated, as the once-open and easy bond between the four seems lost, as the four have grown up and grown apart. Melting Stones (The Circle Reforged #2) follows Rosethorn (Briar’s teacher), Evvy (Briar’s student), and Luvo (the living stone heart of a mountain) as they travel to the Battle Islands to figure out why all the plants and animals are dying.
Battle Magic is an in-between book, that occurs between Street Magic and The Will of the Empress. If you’ve read the preceding books, you have an inkling of what is going to happen (i.e. a war), though don’t know all the details. Briar, his teacher Rosethorn, and his student, Evvy, are visiting the mountain kingdom of Gyongxe. Nestled high in the mountains, Gyongxe is home to temples of many faiths. Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy are abruptly called away, as they are invited to visit the Emperor of Yanjing. This is an invitation they cannot refuse, not only because green mages Rosethorn and Briar are itching to see the emperor’s famed gardens. The emperor is also known for his bloodthirsty warmongering, and during their stay the three are treated to views of his massive armies, his determined cruelty, and the magic at his disposal. The emperor is himself called away suddenly, and as the three prepare to journey home they discover his secret – he is planning to invade Gyongxe. Home to the First Temple of the Living Circle, it does not appear Gyongxe is yet aware of these dire plans. Duty to her faith drives Rosethorn (with Briar and Evvy stubbornly following) back to Gyongxe. Dangers seem to wait around every corner, as war draws every closer.
- Briar is one of my favourite book characters ever. A reformed street thief, he is now trying more to avoid mischief than to create it. Stubborn, loyal, and sometimes hot-headed, he is a kick-ass kind of guy.
- I wasn’t sure how I felt about Evvy in Melting Stones – but I can much better understand her now that I’ve read Battle Magic.
- Luvo! This is where Evvy and Luvo meet. He’s the living heart of a mountain, and is much more active than his fellow mountains can appreciate. He is fascinated by the “meat-creatures” he sees – particularly Evvy.
- Rosethorn is still as prickly as ever, but you get to see her more personally and a bit more from her perspective than in other books.
- This is a book about a war – so there is definitely cruelty, battles, and death. It is much less dark than I kind of expected (given the subject matter) and I commend the writing.
- I have just finished it, but can’t wait to re-read it!!
- I think this would be good as a stand-alone read, but I would recommend at least reading Street Magic (if not the other preceding books) to appreciate the characters and their backgrounds more fully.
The worst part about finishing this book is having to wait again for Tamora’s next book (which, according to her website, will be released in the fall of 2014 and be about her Tortall universe not the Circle one).