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A Protagonist Who Reads + It's Numair from the Immortals! ⇉ Review of Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tuesday, January 23, 2018
I first discovered the Tortall world in middle school. They're books that I can read over and over again without tiring. I've been waiting for the Numair Chronicles several years now and was stoked to receive this for review. So much that I made it my first read of the new year! I've been curious about Numair's origin story since Emperor Mage gave us a sneak peak into his backstory.


WHAT I LIKED


A Fellow Reader and Dreamer
Readers, dreamers, and seekers (aka. forever curious people) will relate to Arram. I have loved Tamora Pierce's strong heroines, who we also know to be real people with real struggles, but it is wonderful to have a protagonist who may also be found buried in books, is an idealist, and is constantly coming up with new ideas and wanting to know things (and getting told to stop asking questions). That was a really long sentence. I'll stop now, or I'll keep rambling about my delight with young Arram Draper.

(But one more thought: I did enjoy comparing young Arram with the older Numair in The Immortals series. It is such fun to make connections! Like his feelings about riding horses.)

Characters We Know and Love

What really made this book for me is the familiar world and characters. I remember the main protagonists as well as some other characters from Tamora Pierce's Immortal series, and I enjoyed the references to characters from other Tortall books. (There are even a couple references to characters, or related characters, from the Beka Cooper series!)

Complex Characters
What was especially interesting is the portrayal of Ozorne's character. I knew that he and Numair were friends during their university days, but given his role in the Immortals series, I was not expecting to like him so much. It's interesting to see how his character develops over the course of his time at the university in Tempests and Slaughter. I'm interested in seeing where and how his break with Numair occurs in the next installment of the Numair Chronicles.

Creative World Building
As always, the world of the Tortall books is fascinating. I enjoyed learning more about the world south of Tortall.


WHAT I DISLIKED


Feels More Like a Summary Than a Story
The story covers Arram's early years from his entrance into the university's Lower Academy at age 10 (when most enter a year later) to the first year of independent studies at age 14. Because it covers such a broad span of time—and because so much happens during this time—much gets summarized. If I was not already familiar with the Tortall world and invested in Arram's story, I doubt I would have enjoyed this novel as much as I did.

Furthermore, this is not even a complete summary. Different key plot elements get introduced at various times across the novel without a clear resolution.

The story ends In Media Res
My only clue that the story was coming to an end was the "percentage status" in the bottom right corner of my Kindle. The plot brewing had thickened, and hints had been dropped that all was not well despite thoughts to the contrary. Then we're left hanging in the middle of a scene that seems out of place given everything that has happened and that we know will happen. I was left with a feeling of incompleteness.

It seems that this novel is not meant to be the first installment in a series so much as the first half of a story that will be resolved in the second half, which is to be released (hopefully) next year.

What's with the Title?
The title sounds cool, but I'm still not sure how it relates to the story. (Or to which specific plot points they refer.) The problem may be that the story doesn't have a coherent plotline but seems more like a record of Arram / Numair's early years. (Which is how the series advertises itself but which causes it to fall flat as a standalone novel.)

If you figure out the meaning behind the title, I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

The Cover Art
I'm not a fan of the new artwork that they've given the series. I loved the original ones where they featured the character on the cover with illustrations. Even if they stopped featuring the characters on the covers, I would have preferred they keep the original artwork styles instead of using the new dark, intense covers that look heavily photoshopped (or whatever it is they use on computers nowadays).

A Few Other Miscellaneous Details
Some details don't make sense. For example, a character may have taken an action in between a couple paragraphs, but the action is not mentioned. While it doesn't heavily impact the overall flow of the story, it makes for a small glitch or bump in the road as I'm reading.

I also get the feeling that some things don't quite align with the Immortals series. It may be because this prequel series was written afterwards, or it may be because it's been some time since I last reread the Immortals. I do get the feeling that some details should be changed in the Immortals because of new revelations here. (In particular dealing with crocodile gods and sunbirds. But who knows. Maybe things happened outside of Daine's knowledge.) But perhaps the course of events in The Exile's Gift will change my mind.


FINAL THOUGHTS


I loved reading about Numair's early life and his misadventures. I wish I had book two in my hands now. However, while this series is called the Numair Chronicles, I didn't enjoy so much how the book essentially summarizes his early years at the university. The story lacks a coherent plot that allows it to stand alone but rather spends it entirety introducing the various plotlines that I expect will converge in The Exile's Gift (book two).

What made this story for me are the familiar characters and the opportunity to explore more of the world that Tamora Pierce has developed over the years. I would recommend reading at least the Immortals series first (because it's she first introduces the primary cast), but if you can read the other Tortall books as well, it will make this read even more priceless.

★★★★☆


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.



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Publication Info
  • Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
  • Published by Random House BFYR
  • On February 6, 2018
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Pages: 480 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
Series: The Numair Chronicles
  1. Tempests and Slaughter
  2. The Exile's Gift
  3. TBD
Content 
(highlight to see)
  • Kissing
  • Sexual activity (implied)
  • Wet dreams
  • Boner
  • Gambling
  • Drinking / alcohol
  • Language (words specific to this culture)
  • Violence & death (from murder, plague, and battle) - conditions described in detail
  • LGBTQ relationship

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