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Book Review - The Will of the Empress

 Friday, 28 January 2011

This is the first re-read of the year and it was desperately needed, I had a really crappy end to what started out as a good day and by the end of it I'd lost someone I thought was a friend. It's almost reflex to turn to a book you already know when what you need most is comfort and boy did I need some Tamora Pierce last Wednesday night.

Title: The Will of the Empress
Author: Tamora Pierce
Date: 20/1/2011 PM
Source: Bought
Description: Daja, Briar, Tris, and Sandry have grown up and grown apart since their days together at Winding Circle, and Sandry's especially disappointed with the change. When Sandry's uncle requests that her three old friends accompany her on a visit to Sandry's vast lands within the Empire of Namorn, the young mages discover that they've landed in a trap. Namorn's iron-willed Empress has plans for Sandry and her companions, and she has wily and powerful mages to help her. But so, of course, does Sandry--if only she can get them to work together . . . . (Description taken from Amazon)

My Review
I should point out at the start of this review that this book is technically the 9th chronologically that is set in Tamora Pierce's Emelan world. There are two quartets that follow the tangled lives of Sandry, Tris, Briar and Daja from the discovery of their strange powers through the years of them learning to control them up to the start of this book. I'm not gonna recap all the backstory that lead up to this book so apologies if things get a little confusing.

While the earlier books in the Emelan world were rather more geared to the younger end of the YA spectrum; Will of the Empress is definitely for the other end. The four mages are all grown up now and have seen more of the world than they'd perhaps like to. Despite how close they once were as children Sandry feels frustrated  that she and her foster family have drifted so far apart.

Out of the four main characters I am most attached to Tris and Briar - Tris being the most powerful of the four with her weather magic she's also the most private and is generally pretty crotchety with people. I love her loyalty to those she does care about and her tendency to read whilst riding makes me crack up cos I'm sure it's exactly what I'd do (were I to live in a world where travelling by horse was the norm). Briar is the kind of charming guy you could introduce to your grandmother without fear even if he was a thief as a child. I love his carefree attitude that can switch to high alert at a moment's notice if he or his friends are in danger.

Not that I have anything against Sandry and Daja though - Sandry can be so bad-ass when she's seriously vexed and darn if she doesn't wield the stitch-witch powers with some clout in this book! But she does get a bit het up when someone offends her noble sensibilities and I can understand Tris, Briar & Daja's dislike of being bossed about as though they were the hired help by someone they consider as family. Daja is the one character who I related to the least - I don't quite know why but she just wasn't my favourite although it was really good to see a whole unexplored and rather unexpected side of her in this book.

The main reason why I chose this book to re-read when I did was because of the overall message that no matter what horrors you may go through in life, true friends will be there for you even if you've been apart for some time. The loyalty between the four mages in the face of adversity and danger helped remind me that not all people are fair-weather friends and those who truly love you will stick by you no matter how many lightning bolts you may throw at them in a moment of anger.

If you have already read some of Tamora Pierce's books but none of the Circle of Magic/Circle Opens/Circle Reforged books then I do really recommend them. The first two quartets are comparatively smaller than Will of the Empress and perhaps more simplistic but I find that Tammy's characters are always ones you get attached to and want to know more about so even if you start off reading this book I reckon you'll find yourself wanting to go back and meet these wonderful characters at the beginning of their journey. 

I am probably a bit biased when it comes to rating Tammy's books because I think that most of them are fantastic but out of the Emelan books the Will of the Empress is probably my favourite with Shatterglass and Street Magic not far behind (They are the books that focus on Tris and Briar respectively in the Circle Opens quartet). I now anxiously await the third book in the Circle Reforged Quartet so we can learn about what happened Briar while he was travelling since all the ominous hinting throughout WotE makes it sound like it'll be a fascinating yet dark read. *crosses fingers that the wait won't be too long*

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Eek terribly sorry that this is two days later than planned in going up - I've had a couple of busy days where I've been far from the computer and not getting these reviews done ahead of time means it's buggered up my pseudo-schedule of posting reviews for Firespell and Soulless supposedly today and tomorrow. I'm gonna do my best to clear the backlog this weekend.

Anyways must fly, dinner awaits!


Kittie Howard 28 January 2011 at 20:22  

Lady V, even tho you've much to do you provided a very concise review, as always, with such depth that I need to look into this series. I really liked the part about loyalty. Great job, thank you!

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