Thank you to netgalley and the UK publisher for this review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Book: Tempests and Slaughter (Numair Chronicles 1) by Tamora Pierce
Release Date: February 6th 2018 (In the UK September 2018)
Tags: Fantasy / Magic School / Tortall / Coming of Age
Trigger Warnings: Violence / Blood / Mentions of Rape / Death / Slavery / Mentioned Animal Death
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.
Over the years, and especially on youtube, I have seen many people mention Tamora Pierce as a need to read author in fantasy, especially at a young age. I completely missed her. Maybe it is because I am Dutch or my library didn’t have it or I just didn’t read as much fantasy back in the day, but I completely missed these books. Then came Tempests and Slaughter, a prequel story to her large Tortall series, and I was drawn to that. When I got the opportunity to read this for review I didn’t hesitate and took it. It seemed like a great place to start into the Tamora Pierce world. I was wrong.
As the rating might suggest to you I did not really enjoy this book. I think my keyword for this book is boring. On absolutely every level. Where was the plot? There was seriously barely any. I don’t mind slow stories as long as I feel like I am moving towards something. I didn’t get that feeling here at all. There is summarizations of the schooling, of their school years, about the things they do.The writing style is also dry and felt very distant. Though we only follow one character I wasn’t quite sure I was really getting to know him. Like what are his faults besides accidentally getting drawn into trouble?
World building wise we only saw the university (with bits and pieces from the outside world) and besides knowing they have a plague, slaves and a royal family I really know nothing about the city or the country this takes place in. Even the university is a bit of a question as Arram follows his own personal schedule. It was hard to get a grasp on where he was in his schooling. There was often talk about examinations but only once about results. There would be big, abrupt jumps, sometimes in a chapter. It didn’t make for a very nice continued story line. The magic also is barely explained and seems a mess.
It is an introduction to a character that means nothing to me. While you are suppose to be able to read this without having read the previous books, I feel like I was missing something from the very start. I think this book is better suited to old fans of the series for appreciation of the characters they already know, and certainly not a book to invite new readers to this world.
Initially I thought the introduction to Arram was interesting but as mentioned above, I don’t feel like I was able to really get to know his character. There was a lot of interesting things about his friends too but we rarely scratched the surface. Everyone stayed in their own lane and specific role (the prince, the slave, the professor etc) and never really left those things behind to become a character of their own.
Some things around Arram’s sexual awareness was also cringeworthy awkward. I mean I appreciate talking about boys waking up with a stiff member and all, but I don’t think the conversations in this book will get the desired effect for boys the same age to not feel weird and unnormal about it. There was also the way he would appreciate the sway of a girl’s hips, ‘finally being back around pretty girls’ as he put it or how about an old female professor commenting on a 13/14 year old boys fuzz (chest hairs).