I feel like I can’t write this review without introducing myself properly.
Hi, my name is Caitlin Christensen and I am addicted to Tamora Pierce.
There, I said it. Isn’t admittance the first step in the process of coming out? I’m not looking for a cure, but I do want you to know up front that I am a Tamora Pierce SUPERFAN so I’m probably biased. But then again, if you didn’t like any of her other books then I don’t know why you’re even reading this review. I hope, like me, you’re already a fan of her amazing work, and if you aren’t yet than I hope this review will encourage you to take that first teeny tiny step and immerse yourself in the world of magic she creates.
I’ve been in possession of Battle Magic since about a week before it came out. They were selling it early at The National Book Festival because Tamora Pierce was there to sign copies of it, and I was THRILLED to get to hold her new book in my hands early (doesn’t it always feel blissfully elicit when you get your hands on a book early?). Back then, I wasn’t book blogging or working in publishing, so I didn’t read many ARCs, making having this one in my hands early all the more exciting.
But, here’s the kicker – after I met Tamora, I couldn’t bring myself to read this book, and not because she wasn’t a BA person who was absolutely a dream-come-to-life in person. She was all that and more, and I felt my life would never be the same after getting to talk with her for a few brief moments (I cried my eyes out I was so ecstatic).
But I was holding the only book of hers I hadn’t read in my hands, and I was scared. I was afraid that I would waste my first-read-through rushing full-speed into it. I didn’t want it to be over. So I waited, and I waited, and I waited. I figured if I found out the world was going to end, then it could be the last book I ever read. I told myself that as soon as I found out the release date of her next book, I would finally read it. Then, after three long years, I gave in, and here we are.
I LOVED Battle Magic. I know that a lot of readers seemed to feel lukewarm about it, and it’s not that I don’t think their critiques have value, it’s just that I don’t agree with them. Now, as I said before, I am a HUGE Tamora Pierce SUPERFAN, so I may just be biased. But I really did think this book was a fantastic return to a world I’ve always loved.
I thought the new locations were rich and intoxicating, the new characters were interesting and easy to grow attached to, and the plot developed in interesting ways. It wasn’t quite as dark as some of Tamora Pierce’s other work, and I wouldn’t have minded if it was, but I still felt I got my money’s worth in terms of “dark horrors of war” – it delves into and explains the events behind Briar’s nightmares from The Will of the Empress. So, given that this takes place before that book, we all already knew going in that Briar, Rosethron, and Evvy were going to survive whatever awaited them in this book. Despite that, I still found myself caught up in the suspense at several key points (I mean, what happens to Evvy is pretty freaking terrifying).
Also, unlike other reviewers, I felt like this was one example where ambient magic didn’t really save our protagonists or win the war for them. Ambient magic has limits. In the end, it was another force altogether that helped them get out alive – Pierce has always relied heavily on the Gods in her books, and I thought their role in Gyongxe was beyond awesome (especially considering no one who leaves will ever remember it).
Basically, if you love Tamora Pierce, I think you will be reasonably (or ecstatically) happy about the way this one turned out. But don’t take my word for it, pick it up and see for yourself!
Rating: 5/5 stars