Fabulous fantasy: BATTLE MAGIC by Tamora Pierce

Posted 30 September, 2013 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 18 Comments

BATTLE MAGIC (Emelan, Circle Reforged #3) by Tamora Pierce
YA Fantasy
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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18 Responses to “Fabulous fantasy: BATTLE MAGIC by Tamora Pierce”

  1. Oh, YAY, Mary! I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one for a long while now, and I’m so glad to hear it doesn’t disappoint. Plus, the fact that the magic is done well…that’s just the icing on the cake! Wonderful review, doll 🙂

  2. Yay for this one being able to be read as a standalone! I sometimes struggle with the world building in fantasy novels as it’s often so imaginative that I get a bit lost, so I should probably start at the beginning just to have more time in the world, but that doesn’t seem like it will be a hardship in any way:) Glad you loved this Mary!!!

  3. I’ve heard tons about this author – does she write mostly fantasy? It’s not my best genre so I don’t often get into fantasy series (even though it can be read as a standalone which is great) but the rave the author is getting makes me curious.

  4. I love Tamora Pierce, and I’ve got this one on my Kindle calling to me. Now I just need some reading time! So glad to hear you enjoyed it, because I think I’m in about the same reading boat as you, I’ve read many of the Circle of Magic/Circle Opens books, but not all of them. It’s been awhile, but I’m sure it will come back to me. Lovely review!

  5. YA Fantasy is still scary to me – most fantasy is. But lately I’ve been getting into the fantasy pool one toe at a time. Since you loved this one so much, this series is definitely on my radar. 🙂

  6. Oh this looks so good and this author is high on my must try list. What is funny is that you said I don’t have to read in order, but I love to do that especially in fantasy. So many in that genre that you can’t do that! Must push that first book higher on the wishlist.

  7. I love it when author’s write a series so you can easily pick up any book (without having read the earlier ones). Magic, awesome characters, and a crazy emperor…this sounds fantastic!

    Great review 🙂

  8. As you know, I love YA fantasy! So it’s really really sad that I haven’t read many of her books. I know I read one but it was years ago, long before blogging and it was probably the middle of a series. But I think that one of these days I’m just going to sit down and read one of her series, because I hear so many great things! I’m also glad to hear this can work as a stand alone even if the world may not be as easy to comprehend.

    • I’d start at the beginning of this series, with the introduction of the kids (even though you *can* start here, if you really wanted). I LOVED the Circle of Magic part of this world.

  9. There aren’t many authors who can handle no less than three points of view so beautifully and seamlessly. Multiple POVs always end up seeming choppy to me.
    I’ve never read anything by Pierce before, but her books have been recommended to me so I fully intend to change that and soon.

  10. I still have yet to read Tamora Pierce, but she’s been recommended to me again and again. I love it that this book can be read as a standalone within a series, I’m always impressed when authors are able to manage that. Good to hear the multiple POVs are done well, too! That’s a huge pet peeve of mine, when you can’t distinguish one from the other.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden