BATTLE MAGIC (Emelan, Circle Reforged #3) by Tamora Pierce
464 pages, hardcover
Available now (September 2013)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review
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 Gyongxe. 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.
Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite young adult fantasy writers and this latest release just reaffirmed it. For those of you who haven’t yet read this series, have no fear. You can pick up this book and read it as a standalone. Of course, it’s more interesting and there’s more depth if you’ve read at least some of the other books in the Emelan universe including those of the Circle of Magic and the Circle Opens — and it’s easier to fall into the story, as you don’t have to figure out the rules of magic or who’s who. It’s been a while since I visited this world (I haven’t read all of the books, just a good chunk of them) but had no problems re-immersing myself in it.
Young mage Briar, his teacher Rosethorn and student Evvy have been traveling for a long while, traveling around the world, visiting famous gardens. When they get the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful gardens in the world, they accept the invitation and travel to Yanjing. Not a good experience. The emperor’s a power-hungry nutjob who torches a rose garden just because it dared to grow mold…and kills all the gardeners because they allowed the roses to contract the mold. Um…yeah. Nutjob. And he’s planning on attacking the nice folks of Gyongxin who were so nice to Briar and his friends. Of course, they have to do something.
The story is told through the eyes of Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy, sliding effortlessly from one character’s point of view to the next. I adored all three characters, who work as a cohesive family unit despite no real familial connections, and completely fell for both Gyongxin’s ruler, the God-King, and Parahan, a slave to the emperor. Actually, I can totally see a spin-off series with Parahan, his twin sister and their quest to regain their kingdom. And, if I see it, it will happen, right? Right?!?
The magic itself is pretty darned cool, too. Briar and his friends all have deep connections to their particular elements (Briar and Rosethorn to plants and Evvy to stone) and use their magic in ways unfamiliar to the mages of the other countries. Some don’t even believe that they have any magic because it’s different than their own or that it’s useful in battle (or any other way). Little do they know! Just wait until Briar throws some of his seed bombs and the bad guys are strangled by vines and stabbed by thorns or Rosethorn makes the other mage’s wooden beads grow into trees, encapsulating them or Evvy brings down landslides or makes rocks move underfoot. Then they’ll know.
Battle Magic is a fantastic addition to the Emelan universe, one that any fantasy fan should definitely pick up.
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