Title: Tempests and Slaughter
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018. 464 pages. Audio: Listening Library, 2018. Read by Ariadne Meyers.
Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.
Arram Draper is a boy 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 danger. 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 begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
Let's just get this out of the way at once: we've waited long enough for this book! I hope that's because Tamora Pierce has the whole series on the way, and we won't wait another 5 years for the next book, because this is very much the opening shot of a series, and essentially nothing is resolved at the end. In my opinion, it's all there to set up the real conflict which must start soon, and which the reader versed in the world of Tortall knows is coming.
So, knowing that this is the opening salvo and not a complete story, how is it? In short, absorbing. I'm not sure I could even say for sure why, but it's fascinating to see the instruction of a young mage, as well as to see how Tamora Pierce creates the young versions of characters we already know in their adult forms. Her writing, as always, propels the reader forward, and enough happens along the way to keep you reading and to make you feel that it's a book. Still, I think this would be a poor place to start with the world of Tortall, due to the unfinished feeling it gave me. Or maybe that's just knowing what's ahead? I don't think so, because that blurb above goes beyond where this volume takes us.
On another note, I was so anxious to get this that I place library holds on both the hardback and the audio book. I got the latter first, and began greedily listening, but when the hardback came in I switched (and skimmed back through the part I'd listened to). It's a complex enough story that I liked reading better than listening, though the audio was very good.
If you are a fan of Pierce's, you've been waiting ages for this book--for any new novel. So jump in and go for it, unless you have the inhuman patience to wait for the next book so you can have the whole story at once! If you are new to Tortall, than I'd suggest starting where the author did, with the Alanna books.
Final note: Pierce's books waffle on the edge between juvvy and YA. There's nothing about this that rules out readers of, say, 11 and up. But there's enough violence and enough of maturing young people to make me feel it's more appropriate for those over 13.
FTC Disclosure: I checked Tempests and Slaughter out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."