Tempests and Slaughter
February 5, 2018 10:07 PM - by Tamora Pierce - Subscribe

Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm's most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness--and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the "leftover prince" with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram's heart, Arram realizes that one day--soon--he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I stayed up slightly past my bedtime and ooooooh! there it appeared on my kindle! Now I may stay up quite a long time past my bedtime!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:07 PM on February 5, 2018

Ah ah ah ahhhhhh! I checked my email this morning and saw a mysterious Amazon charge, went and checked my kindle app and there it was! I had forgotten today was the day. SO excited to start this tonight!
posted by john_snow at 6:19 AM on February 6, 2018

I'm saving this for my multitude of plane rides this weekend and I'm soooooooooooooooo excited!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:22 AM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I haven't gotten to starting the Alanna reread yet, but I can't not READ THIS IMMEDIATELY! I didn't realize when it was announced that there would be tiny 10-year-old Numair, though, which is kind of charming slash totally weird to experience?
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 2:06 PM on February 7, 2018

A non-spoilery observation, as we're all working our way through the book — I have this sneaking suspicion that Tamora Pierce is a practicing Wiccan. (Or, at least, has done a lot of paganism & witchcraft research, and loves it.)

I never caught on before, but I've been dabbling in Wicca and herbalism this past year, and I can now see evidence of Wicca in a lot of Numair's studies and Tortall's magic. It's pretty delightful. And it's painstakingly accurate, in concordance with the traditional folk knowledge — the uses of crystals and gems in Master Yadeen's class, the healing properties of plant medicines like vervain and angelica in the infirmary, the name of the Great Mother Goddess, etc. ... Even the way Pierce talks about meditation, as a way of disciplining one's mind and harnessing energy, is very Wiccan (rather than, say, Buddhist).

Am I committing a version of biographical fallacy here? ;)
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 5:12 PM on February 8, 2018

Did a good job of establishing Ozorne as sympathetic but also as menacing, even back in the beginning before he got closer to the throne and became more obviously threatening. Some of the mysteries were a little TOO mysterious -- I have to go back and read again to see if I missed something or if they're being set up for later books in the series.

I giggled a bit in delight when I got to the Sarge reveal.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:17 AM on February 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm trying to decide if the fact that every single character is in at least one other series is something I like or not. Everything is a callback. Like, would they really have read a book by Beka Cooper's husband and also her offspring (named after Rosto Piper)? Master Si-Cham is on their reading list? On the one hand, it can pay off satisfactorily (Sarge!), But then it sometimes just feels like fanservice.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:22 PM on February 11, 2018

I kind of liked that, ChuraChura, but I'm a sucker for that sort of thing! I liked the call out to Si-Cham in part because I always felt like he got treated sort of shabbily in the Alanna books.

I finished the book this weekend and really enjoyed it, but I did feel like it just stopped - like it was a bit arbitrarily decided (word count? deadline?) and now we're hanging till the next installment. Having just read Alanna a few weeks ago, WOW, Pierce's writing and storytelling is so much improved!

I liked how Ozorne and Varice were both pretty likable - really changes the whole perspective we get later from the Daine books. And again referring back to Alanna, I thought the school and the teachers were so much better - they handled bullying fairly well, they shape the education to the student, the teachers seem to care about the students and many of them are there because they seem to love to teach. I mean, I know they have to teach Arram really well or they'll all drown, which is somewhat different than a poorly trained knight, but Arram's training is fairly concurrent with Alanna and the whole education structure is just so much more humane. It really makes Tortall look backwards and provincial as compared to Carthak, despite Tortallian attitudes...made me wonder what Thom might have been like had he gone there instead of the City of the Gods. Obviously Pierce is drawing on everything we've learned and all the societal changes in the last 30 years, so maybe not a totally fair comparison, but quite interesting to compare with Alanna so fresh in my head.

I just looked at Pierce's site and she is coming my city on her book tour the weekend before my 40th birthday. I am so going! I might be the oldest person there, but I am so excited for the chance to meet her!
posted by john_snow at 7:54 AM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel the same way about all the character callbacks. On one hand, it's delightful. On the other hand, it somehow makes Pierce's world feel smaller, rather than bigger. I always imagined Numair's past as this tapestry of bizarre experiences and people, so having Varice and Ozorne as his best friends since childhood, planning to "take over the world together" ... it all just seems a bit too neat & tidy.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this a great deal; books about magic school are my weakness! I find that Tamora Pierce's books can be very "slice-of-life" — unhurried and engrossing in their descriptions of mundane, daily life and lessons and the passage of time — rather than, say, action-packed and tightly plotted. I've always appreciated this about them; I think it's why I used to reread them over and over again when I was young.

Like john_snow mentioned, Pierce's writing has gotten a lot more morally/politically complex as she's gone along, and I think the sections about slavery and the gladiatorial infirmary are very affecting. I like seeing how this exposure shapes Numair's character, and how he begins to diverge from Ozorne and Varice, who are not at all "bad" people but are clearly becoming the characters we'll meet later. Ozorne, in particular, is very convincing and a bit disquieting. And I'm pretty delighted to see the Graveyard Hag is going to play a role. The Graveyard Hag is always fun.

john_snow — I met Tamora Pierce when I was a kid! I, uh, was somehow expecting her to be Alanna, in my head, so I was shocked to find a quiet, middle-aged lady with a page cut, but she's such a lovely person. She has a lot of warmth and patience for her fans.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 9:40 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also — I love that Numair has practically no friends, other than Ozorne and Varice and his teachers, and spends all of his time studying/nerding out over magic. Sounds about right!
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 9:41 PM on February 12, 2018

I particularly liked Numair's realization that while the university doesn't use slavery, he actually cannot live in Carthak and not be complicit - that's important.

Also I am only just now realizing that I've always read the name as ORzone and I've been transposing letters all along! Now I can't get it right.
posted by john_snow at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2018

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