I first discovered Tamora Pierce’s work in my first year of secondary school. I started off with The Protector of the Small quartet and was hooked from there. I devoured her Tortall works and reread my favourites frequently. I didn’t discover her Circle of Magic universe until I was sixteen and despite my love of Tortall and her characters there, my heart was truly captured by the four children who made up the original Circle of Magic books.
Battle Magic is the latest book from this universe, and fills in the gaps mentioned in The Will of the Empress and Melting Stones. It concerns Briar, a plant mage from the original four children, and his travels with Rosethorn, his teacher and fellow plant mage, and Evvy, a child stone mage. They travel to Yanjing and Gyongxe, lands similar to Eastern Asia in culture. They are caught up in a war as the Yanjingi emperor tries to conquer Gyongxe.
I loved this book from the first page to the last. Reading about some of my favourite characters and going with them on a journey of determination, pain, loss, duty and friendship. The characters were true to their previous iterations and behaved as I would expect them to. This book was my equivalent of a large duvet and a cup of hot chocolate: it comforted me and kept me feeling all warm and content.
That said, as much as I enjoyed this novel, I’m not sure how much of it would make sense without reading the previous books in the series. Much of the plot relies on previous knowledge of these characters and their skills and without this certain parts of the story would not make sense. I would urge people who think this book sounds like something they would enjoy to read the previous books. They are all considered young adult fantasy but I feel they would be suitable for any age. This book is darker than the beginning books and does deal with some rather graphic violence as well as touching upon some sexual themes.
This book has cast its magic upon me, just like its predecessors. I loved each bit of it and the way it captured my imagination. I recommend this for anyone who is a fan of Tamora Pierce’s work and the whole Circle of Magic series to anyone who enjoys good fantasy novel.