These books are all right. The characters are decent and the plots are well-constructed. It took me until the end of the second book to put my fingerThese books are all right. The characters are decent and the plots are well-constructed. It took me until the end of the second book to put my finger on what it was about the writing style that bothered me.
The author's tone is a trifle smug for my tastes. He thinks he is slightly cleverer than he actually is, and very few of his "surprise plot twists" are actually surprising, unless they are so convoluted that no one could possibly guess them.
This one leaves one plot thread hanging that I am willing to bet will come up somewhere again in the series, but I'm not sure I feel like reading on to find out....more
**spoiler alert** I am a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan, and have been for about 17 years now. There is no author writing fantasy geared at teenage girls that**spoiler alert** I am a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan, and have been for about 17 years now. There is no author writing fantasy geared at teenage girls that I love half so much as I love this woman. After more than 25 years of writing and 25 books, Tammy still manages to surprise and impress me with her wry, no-nonsense approach to juvenile fantasy. Her teenage heroines specialise in kicking ass and taking names, and while they like their men, no one will accuse them of being unable to take care of themselves. Beka Cooper is no exception.
In Bloodhound, the second of the trilogy, Beka has begun her first year as a Dog (essentially, a cop) in the pseudo-Medieval fantasy kingdom of Tortall. She's 17, unable to find a decent working partner, and someone is flooding the country's coinage with counterfeits. Tammy has made the bold choice in this book of removing Beka to an unfamiliar city (both for her and for the reader) to track the culprits, separating our heroine from most of the cast of characters we met in the previous book, including her magical pet cat, on whom Beka has come to rely a little too heavily. My favourite addition to the cast is Achoo, a scent hound whom Beka adopts when she is mistreated by her previous handler.
One of the things I especially love about Tammy's books is that morality is rarely black-and-white; thieves live by their own code, and can often become friends or lovers of Dogs without anyone batting an eye. As long as everyone plays by the rules -- written or not -- everything works fine.
Sex is also dealt with frankly (but never explicitly) in this book -- more baldly, perhaps, than in any of Tammy's previous books. Beka takes for a lover a man she barely knows, fully aware that their affair must, perforce, be a brief one. The romance is almost incidental to the plot, and her new lover takes little part in the action of the book. Beka's love-life takes second place to her main focus: Her job. She and the new man enjoy their time together, and part on good terms, though Beka is saddened when she knows she must leave. Beka's romance with Rosto, her flame from the previous book, is left on the back burner, and we barely see him, though he is frequently in Beka's thoughts.
This is also the first time we get an explicitly gay character in a major role in one of Tammy's Tortall books. Usually, her characters' sexualities are only hinted at -- because, as Tammy says, her books are not "about that" -- but now we have Nestor, Beka's friend and superior officer, who we are told is gay the first time we meet him. We also meet his companion, a male-to-female transexual named Okha, who works as a singer in a tavern, and has ties to the city's criminal element. Both of them are well-thought-of by the other characters in the book, reflecting a very open-minded society.
All in all, an excellently-written story, though I don't yet love Beka as much as I love Alanna. Highly recommended for ages 12 and up....more
In the third "Circle Opens" book, fourteen-year-old smith-mage Daja has traveled far to the north with her teacher, Frostpine, and are enjoying the hoIn the third "Circle Opens" book, fourteen-year-old smith-mage Daja has traveled far to the north with her teacher, Frostpine, and are enjoying the hospitality of two of his old friends and their children. Daja sees one of their twin daughters use magic, and realises the other must have it as well. Unlike in the previous two books, Daja is able to find appropriate teachers for the two girls, a cook-mage and a wood-mage respectively, and only trains them in meditation. This leaves Daja with a fair amount of free time in which to make a set of fire-proof gloves for her new hero, Ben, who is teaching and organising fire brigades for the island city. But Daja and Ben's newfound friendship is tested by his sharp-tongued mother and by the shocking truth about the arsonist who is plaguing the islands. I think the thing I enjoyed most about this book is the fact that the villain of the piece is actually a highly sympathetic madman. Daja learns that human nature is not black and white, good and evil, and that sometimes the right thing to do can seem like the hardest thing of all....more
This book had an uncomfortable and bumpy start for me. I had so been looking forward to the four young mages getting back together and being one big hThis book had an uncomfortable and bumpy start for me. I had so been looking forward to the four young mages getting back together and being one big happy family again, but it wasn't like that at all. I'll admit that Tammy's way of handling their reunion was much more realistic, but I hate seeing even fictional good friends not getting along. Besides that, in the first chapter, a year and a half goes by, during which the three travelers return to awkward and emotionally fraught homecomings. Daja learns she can no longer live at the temple, her former home, and refuses to live on Sandry's charity. Tris realises her three foster siblings are all incredibly wealthy, while her own prospects are poor, and her wind-scrying is driving her half mad. Briar has narrowly escaped a war, and is suffering deep emotional scars. Sandry, who has been waiting three years for all her friends to return, is deeply disappointed that none of them are eager to re-establish their former bond. But when Sandry's uncle approaches them to ask them to accompany Sandry to visit her lands in the empire of Namorn, they all agree to go. But they are unprepared to deal with Sandry's cousin, the powerful and beautiful empress of Namorn or the web she is weaving to keep them there. Our young friends are all grown up now, and there's no more skirting around the issue of sex. Briar is an unapologetic man-whore, Daja finds love in the arms of a beautiful woman, and Sandry is in constant danger of marriage-by-kidnap. Only Tris seems to keep aloof from the romantic shenanigans, but there are definitely budding Ron-and-Hermione overtones to her relationship with Briar. I had expected at least some of the students acquired in the last series to figure into this plot, but they are conspicuously absent. However, a man from Daja's travels resurfaces, turning out to be a mage driven mad by the power he never knew he had, and it will take all four of them to sort him out. Of course, by the end of the book they are all one big, happy family again, and it is very gratifying. The last time I read a book this long in a single day was the final Harry Potter book....more
In the city of Tharios, far to the south of her home, fourteen-year-old Trisana Chandler is facing two problems. The first is that she has acquired aIn the city of Tharios, far to the south of her home, fourteen-year-old Trisana Chandler is facing two problems. The first is that she has acquired a student -- a journeyman glassmaker named Kethlun Warder -- who is not only several years older than she, but is afraid of her lightning magic; a serious problem since it turns out he carries such power himself. The second is the serial murders of several female entertainers in one of the city's poorer districts. Tris and Keth struggle with the rudiments of glass- and lightning-magic, and work to shape their powers to help Demakos Nomasdina, the man in charge of the murder investigation. Tris has difficulty accepting the harsh class-structure of this new land, and acquires two more responsibilities: A glass dragon created by her student and named Chime, and a four-year-old girl named Glaki who is orphaned by the killer. At the conclusion of this series, I like the characters and their stories, but I still don't *love* them. I am, however, looking forward to seeing the whole gang back together in the next book....more
The second book in the "Circle Opens" quartet features Briar Moss, now a powerful fourteen-year-old plant mage, living with his teacher, Rosethorn, inThe second book in the "Circle Opens" quartet features Briar Moss, now a powerful fourteen-year-old plant mage, living with his teacher, Rosethorn, in the distant land of Chammur. While wandering the market place, Briar discovers Evvy, a ten-year-old girl who has stone magic. Like Briar at that age, she is a child of the streets, without friends or family to care for her. Unable to find her a suitable and willing teacher, Briar reluctantly takes her on as a pupil, but quickly comes to enjoy the role of teacher. There is a secondary plot dealing with gang culture, laying out sympathetically, though not positively, why some children and teens find it useful or even necessary to join gangs. Briar is forced to look at just how far he has come in the past four years; from an unwanted "street rat" to a powerful and respected mage. Like the previous book, none of the other three young mages appear, though they are frequently in Briar's thoughts....more