Title: Battle Magic (The Circle Reforged, 3)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Sword and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Press (24th September 2013)
THE DRUMS OF WAR ARE BEATING.
Mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are visiting the mystical mountain kingdom of Gyongxe when they are suddenly called away. The emperor of Yanjing has invited them to see his glorious gardens.
During their brief stay, though, the mages see far more than splendid flowers. They see the emperor’s massive army, his intense cruelty, and the devastating magic that keeps his power in place.
It’s not till they leave that they discover he’s about to launch a major invasion of Fyongxe. The mountain land is home to many temples . . . including the First Temple of the Living Circle, which Rosethorn has vowed to defend.
With time running out, the mages race to warn their Gyongxin friends of the emperor’s plans.
Duty, mystery, magic, and terror will drive them apart on the way. And while new friends will do their best to bring the mages together again on the field of battle, deadly enemies hide in every mountain pass, just waiting to destroy them.
Rating: *** (3 stars)
BATTLE MAGIC is Tamora Pierce’s latest novel set in the world of Emelan;it tells the story of the journey that leaves Briar with nightmares mentioned in THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS. The story follows Briar – one of the four mages of Pierce’s CIRCLE OF MAGIC series -, his mentor Rosethorn and his pupil Evvy as they travel through the Gyongxe and Yangjing regions of Emelan.
BATTLE MAGIC is one of the books I have been looking forward to getting my hands on. Not only is it written by Tamora Pierce, one of my favourite fantasy authors, but I was also looking forward to seeing some of the hints in THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS being explained. Reading between the lines of that book I knew that it was not going to be an easy story – something very bad happened there.
Despite my excitement, it did take me a while to get into the world and story of BATTLE MAGIC although the book itself was a quick read. The Gyongxe and Yangjing regions seem to be very different from the other countries explored in the Emelan series – there is a definite Chinese vibe to the culture, and maybe a little Japanese or perhaps Tibetan in the mix too. It was really interesting to see the different regions, and I think Pierce did a great job exploring the people and the culture without taking away from the plot of the book.
The plot of BATTLE MAGIC is a pretty simple one, and places Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy in a reactive position. I think Pierce did a good job of showing the brutality of war without being overly graphic, but at the same time getting across how ruthless people can be. It was interesting to read the battle scenes, though Pierce focused mainly on the magic use rather than the actual fighting – which is understandable as the main characters are magic users rather than fighters.
BATTLE MAGIC is a good addition to the Emelan canon, and I am glad that Pierce gave us the reader some insight into the cause of Briar’s nightmares in THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS. If you are a fan of fantasy, particularly sword and sorcery fantasy then you should check this series out.