You know Numair Salmalín from the Wild Magic series… but who is he, really? How did the most powerful wizard in the world earn such a title?
Say hello to ten-year-old Aram Draper, a young student at the Imperial University of Carthak. Actually, he’s the youngest in his class. Bored all the time with the beginner magics, he’s moved up to more intermediate magic at a startlingly young age. His abilities have alienated him from the other children his age, and while he loves studying, he does get quite lonely. Two older classmates, Varice Kingsford and Orzorne Tasikhe, take him under their wing. Varice is skilled at kitchen magic, and people often overlook her sharp mind because of it. Orzorne, though a member of the royal family, is so far removed from the throne he is sometimes called “The Leftover Prince.” The three make a fast circle of friends, and it’s clear to everyone their bond is a special one. They will need to lean on each other in their years at school – and beyond.
I’m a huge Tamora Pierce fan, and was super excited for this book. To return to the world of Tortall after so long – I was pumped! But, once I actually got it in my hands… It feels almost blasphemous to say, but I didn’t enjoy Tempests and Slaughter as much as I’d hoped =(
It kind of felt like half a book in some ways. It had a lot of good stuff: well-written characters, a strong core friendship, growing pains, political intrigue, ethics of war and slavery, godly intervention… but not really enough of any of it. The pace is incredibly fast, not really allowing for significant time spent with any of these topics. Just when you think you’re getting to the heart of one theme, it switches tack and goes in a totally different direction. This happens multiple times throughout. I feel like I only got the surface of a book as opposed to the whole picture, which was disappointing. Not to mention there was very little as far as the mechanics of magic, which was strange enough given the setting, but you’d think there would have been much more as this is Numair’s origin story. There could be more in-depth explainations on magic in earlier books that I don’t remember, but it still would have been welcome here.
All that said, I was glued to the book the entire time. Pierce’s writing style is engaging and she really knows how to suck readers in. Middle-grade and young adult readers will enjoy it for the action and quick pace. I wouldn’t say it’s essential to be familiar with Pierce’s past work and characters to fully enjoy the story. I’ve revisited the Song of the Lioness quartet in recent years, but not Wild Magic (where Numair was first introduced), and I was still able to pick things up well enough. For older fans who are familiar with Pierce’s work, however, this may be a bit of a disappointment.
Pierce, Tamora. Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles 1). 2018.