Tamora Pierce is one of my go-to authors when I’m not feeling well or when I just want a good comfort read. I often have trouble stopping at just one of her books and tend to jump around which series I pick. This week I decided to re-read Battle Magic which I have already reviewed here, and it prompted to me to re-read The Will of the Empress because Briar is one of my favourite characters ever and I wanted more of him.
Full disclosure: I love this book and this is one of multiple re-reads.
Brief history (you can skip if you read my Battle Magic post, since I also review the order there and probably in more depth):
The Circle of Magic – Series featuring young ambient mages Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar. Each book focuses on a different character, as they learn their own craft and become irreversibly bound together.
The Circle Opens – After earning their mage medallions, Tris, Daja and Briar head off in different directions to continue their learning and to gain some worldly travel experience. Each of the four (including Sandry, who stays home) has a book outlining their experiences with taking their own students, as well as dealing with various troubles (e.g. an arson, murder, and grown-up life).
The Will of The Empress – Instead of four separate novels, this is a single book that takes place after Tris, Daja and Briar return home. Now adults, they are no longer the care-free children who had no qualms about romping through each others minds without caution. No longer willing to unite in their magical bond, the four are at odds and the circle seems broken. Sandry’s duties as an heiress bring her home to Namorn, with her “siblings” to accompany and protect her.
This is a beautifully written book.
- Each character is dealing with their own difficulties – stubbornly alone – which reflect not just fiction but the real world (although not maybe the modern real world in all cases).
- Sandry is butting heads with the expectations of being an heiress – she wants to be more than just “fit to be married” and is determined not to let her cousin the Empress trap her into a lifestyle she would detest.
- Tris is afraid of professional jealousy, after mastering rare and extremely difficult magics. After several negative reactions, she hopes to keep her new abilities to herself.
- Daja wants to put the past behind her – including the events which occurred during her “Circle Opens” book (Cold Fire). After a homecoming that felt all wrong, she is determined not to be alone and adrift, or depend on the charity of others. This book also gives Daja her first experience with love – unexpected but very sweet.
- Briar is still recovering from being in a war (see Battle Magic) and doesn’t want to share his experiences with his sisters – or seem weak because of how they haunt him.
- There are also some lovely extra characters:
- Berenene – the Empress – whose will is strong. She likes surrounding herself with fiery and handsome young men, but she will not bow to marriage. A strong, independent and crafty ruler, she wants to keep Sandry in Namorn. You see enough sides of her to understand her even if you don’t exactly like or sympathize with her.
- Zhegorz – a crazy man who Daja actually helped rescue in Cold Fire and who shows up again in this one.
- There is power and politics at play – wrapped up in subtle maneuvers. It’s fun to watch the strong personalities butt heads.
- Of course there is magic! The four main characters (Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar) are ambient mages, meaning their magic comes from every-day things. Sandry is a thread mage, Tris is a weather mage, Daja is a smith mage, and Briar is a plant mage. It’s a pleasure to watch them grow into their powers and to see what unique things they are able to do with their gifts.
- At the heart of this book, it’s about friendship and growing up.
Of course this is a 5/5, and I guarantee it’s not the last time I’ll pick it up!