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 realise 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.
Because this wonderful new novel by one of my all time favourite authors instantly drew me back into her incredible, complex and diverse world, and I was so happy to return.
Tamora Pierce is easily one of my favourite authors – definitely top 5, and a major contender for the top spot – so I had fairly high expectations going in. I had been looking forward to this book for months, and was so excited when I finally got my hands on it! The Tempests and the Slaughter is a prequel of sorts to the Immortals series; it is the first in a trilogy that will chronicle the early years of Arram Draper, who grows up to become the great Numair Salmalin, who is a major character in Immortals and a number of Tamora Pierce’s other works. One of my favourite aspects of Pierce’s writing is the wonderfully elaborate worlds she creates, and the way the various characters spanning her many series are interconnected in ways both big and small. The Tempests and the Slaughter epitomises this; there are so many wonderful references to characters I have loved in other stories, some massive (no spoilers but anyone who has read it – I literally squealed when I realised who you-know-who was!) and others as simple as a single line mentioning a well known name. These interconnections are I think, at least for me, what make the worlds that Pierce creates so real; they give each story a sense of history and depth, and help to make each and every one feel like home.
I will admit that it took me a little while to really feel at home with this book. I think a big part of this is that the books which I have read (and re-read) most recently have all been focused on characters who are notably older than Arram is at the beginning of this book, and so were more easily relateable for me. That being said, while it did take a little while to get used to seeing things from such a young perspective, that is an important component of Arram/Numair’s story, and it was really wonderful to see how it impacted his development and shaped his personality.
Arram’s development is dramatically impacted by his relationship with the people around him, in particular Varice and Ozorne. Pierce has always had a wonderful way of creating multi-dimensional characters who are complex and imperfect; she explores the motivations and developmental impacts of each character so that the reader develops an understanding of why they act the way they do. This is particularly fascinating in The Tempests and the Slaughter as the story follows the development of Ozorne, who has such a significant role in the Immortals.
Tamora Pierce’s writing is some of the most diverse and inclusive I have ever read. She includes characters of all races, genders, sexualities, ages and abilities, and does so in a way that never feels forced or contrite. These characters exist within her stories because they exist in the real world, and the characteristics which make them so unique are rarely the focus of their narrative. It never feels like characters are being included to fulfil a ‘diversity quota’ or as an uninspired driving point for the plot – each character plays an important role in the story, not because of their characteristics or despite them, but through their actions, their choices, and the positions they are placed in.
As someone who has loved Tamora Pierce since middle school I was incredibly excited for this book, and it did not disappoint! A wonderful new addition to the complex, intriguing world that Tamora Pierce has so lovingly created, The Tempests and the Slaughter has left me eagerly anticipating its sequel, and itching to re-read Pierce’s other works.