Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 79/200
Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce
Finished on 5/21/2018
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Tamora Pierce returns to the magical world of Winding Circle.
While visiting the God-King and the First Circle temple in Gyongxe, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are invited to visit the emperor’s summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxe, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion.
Accompanied by one of the emperor’s prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxe to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle.
But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?
Genres: Fantasy, YA, Middle Grade, Military Fantasy, High Fantasy, Circle of Magic
A serious addition to the Circle of Magic series
This was a mature, ‘adult’ addition to the Circle of Magic books. While not aimed at an ‘adult’ target audience, this book has a very serious tone fairly unusual in the YA genre (at least for the younger demographic of YA, the 12-15 demographic).
I really liked this. This is my first time reading it, and I felt that the author did a very good job expressing the stakes and characterization. The main characters all experienced loss and tragedy, but at the same time there was still hope in what would otherwise be a very grim book.
I liked the characters. Returning from ‘Street Magic,’ we have Briar, Rosethorn and Evumeimei. All three have individual character arcs, with Briar and Evi having ‘growing up’ arcs while Rosethorn has an arc related to her faith.
The main plot is an invasion story, of an Imperial China analog invading an ancient Tibet analog. The Chinese sorcerers are very bureaucratic (I smelled a Confucianism parallel), meaning they are SUPER-resistant to change. When presented with the unusual magic of Briar, Rosethorn and Evi they disbelieve their power, which I found believable given the themes.
Constructive criticism time: the ending was a major deus-ex-machina. I wanted consequences for the character’s choices, but instead the good guys won anyway. The deus-ex-machina ending was very well foreshadowed, but that doesn’t change the fact that the good guys won because of ‘divine intervention’ instead of hard work and cunning. Also Rosethorn’s plot arc was short. I would have liked it if the author expanded her section.
Recommended. I think you can start reading this without reading earlier books in the series.