The Gaucho Gazette

Tempests and Slaughter

Lucia Garay, Page editor, reporter

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   I was thrilled when I discovered one of my favorite authors of all time, Tamora Pierce, would be publishing another book. Although not as popular as contemporary fantasy writers such as J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan, in my opinion, Pierce is their equal. Pierce has published a number of series, the majority of which take place in the same fantastical universe. Her books often center around independent young women with unique personalities who use their talent and wit to overcome any obstacle, from blatant sexism to mischievous gods and scheming mages.

   Pierce’s books have always been a perfect balance of action and exposition. The plot was always kept well-paced with riveting sword fights, mystery, murder, and romance; however, the aspect of Pierce’s writing that set her books apart from other fantasy writing for me was her meticulous attention to detail and her explanation of the laws of her written universe. Pierce pays special attention to the details in her writing, effectively transporting her readers into the story.

   Because of this, I purchased Pierce’s new book, “Tempests and Slaughter,” as soon as I could. This time, the book centers not around a heroine, but around Arram Draper, the protagonist’s romantic interest in “The Immortals,” another book of hers. The fact that Pierce veered off of her usual formula of a female lead both puzzled and intrigued me. Arram Draper was an intelligent youth with a particular talent in magic who faces hardships large and small. Arram is a ten-year-old training to be a mage in the foreign land of Carthak; his exceptionally powerful magic ability both present him with opportunities and endangers himself and those around him. Arram befriends the elegant and clever Varice Kingsford and the ambitious, “leftover prince,” Orzorne Tasikhe. Although the premise of the novel seems whimsical and lighthearted, beneath the friendship underlies a shadow of disaster as readers of “The Immortals,” know that Orzorne later becomes emperor of Carthak, accuses Arram of treason, and exiles him under threat of execution.

   With this in mind, I read “Tempests and Slaughter” filled with anticipation and apprehension. I found the beginning of the book to be slower than most of Pierce’s other work. She spent more time than usual following the main character throughout his day-to-day routine. While I always appreciate when authors pay attention to detail, in this particular book it felt as if Pierce continued to allude to a conflict in the storyline, but did not actually begin the plot into much too far into the book.

   Despite the disappointing pace of the story, Pierce used several trademark aspects that, for me, made her other books so enjoyable. Pierce always uses an abundant amount of description, yet not enough to make reading tiresome or tedious. Her stories always vibrantly introduce the reader’s imagination to the world of her books in a manner that lets them fill in the blanks with their own creativity and be utterly swept up in the tale. Her characters, also, are each individually dynamic and alive. Each has their own flaws and virtues, each is energetically described, and each is easy to imagine. The natural ease of Pierce’s writing makes reading enjoyable and her books impossible to put down.

   One of the things I admire most about Pierce is the labyrinth of plot that she seamlessly ties together and the continuity of each individual detail. Many of her series are prequels, sequels, or otherwise connected to each other. “Tempests and Slaughter” begins the story of how one of the favorite characters from “The Immortals” comes to be one of the greatest mages of all time serving in the royal court of Tortall, but you don’t need to read any of Pierce’s other books to understand this one. “Tempests and Slaughter” is the promising beginning of another brilliant series by Tamora Pierce.

   If you enjoy fantasy and are interested in reading Tamora Pierce (which I highly recommend), I urge you to start.

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Tempests and Slaughter