Title: Tempests and Slaughter
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Released: February 6th, 2018
Trigger Warnings: Violence, Death, Violence towards animals, Slavery
Representation: Person/s of colour
Synopsis*: Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.
Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
Tempests and Slaughter is like Hogwarts…But like, actually diverse.
It’s just as Master Sebo says, Arram decided during their ride home. Each bit of stone tossed into the river creates ripples, which create still more, which intersect with other ripples, each making a new pattern in the water. There is no way to tell what might result, once you pick up a stone and throw it. We can only be ready for where the power takes us.
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate this cover, please? Oh boy, I don’t even know where to start with this one.
“Why do you do it, Master, if it’s so dangerous?” Arram asked.
“Because they are not undeserving of care. No one is undeserving of care. It is not their fault that they have become what they are,” Ramasu said, his eyes on the road. “They are slaves, chosen and groomed to become gladiators- which is to say, they are beaten, starved, and punished for their work. They grow old in combat and are slaughtered before their time.”
I’ll start with the world. It really is fantastical.
Pierce has a way of immersing her reader into a world that makes it hard to pull yourself back out. The story was far from perfect, but whilst reading and I never cared until I put it down.
The only way to describe the University is similar to Hogwarts but far more diverse. You have the sage masters who genuinely want to help their students… for the most part.
Like Harry Potter, there is one master who I didn’t trust, perhaps wisely so. There are students from all over this world studying in one school, learning totally different things. No one’s schooling is the same.
Outside of the school is a country that desperately needs progress and change. Slaves are everywhere, there are the games that pin warriors, who are seen as less than human, to fight until the death, along with an assortment of animals.
There’s a lot of dehumanization that occurred in this world, to balance this out the author had a lot of humanizing conversations between characters as well. Although there were some horrible and nasty things happening it was made very clear to the reader that none of it is okay.
Using a move Varice had taught him, Arram got Diop’s hand in his and shoved it against the older boy’s wrist. Diop gasped: he seemed not to have known how painful a wrist could be when bent into a U.
“Walk,” Arram whispered to Diop. “Let’s walk to the door before the proctors get here.” Out of the corner of his eye he saw Varice and Ozorne rise to intercept the proctors. “Don’t call out,” Arram cautioned, “or I might get excited and break something.”
Arram is another sweet cinnamon roll boy and those are my favourite.
He stutters his way through sentences, makes friends with the gladiators, wants nothing more than for slaves to be set free. Much to his angst, Arram’s beliefs have him second-guessing the life he had planned with his friends after they all receive their mage certificates, thinking of swapping it in for a life outside of Cathrak where slaves are no longer and he can be far away from the games.
I wanted to wrap Arram up and protect him from the harsh realities of his world. He is beyond sweet and caring and oh no, my heart. Arram is my son, I would take a shot of fire to the chest for him.
I know, I know. He can take care of himself, clearly but I don’t want him to have to, and risk jading this sweet, innocent child. But I’m not going to lie, I was very proud of him whenever he stood up for himself.
“One can only remain wound up over books for so long before one has to do something wild.”
This novel was long, far longer than it probably needed to be, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. My problems all felt minor compared to how much I cared about the characters and their journeys. But they were still problems.
By the end of the book, I felt like nothing had really happened. Sure, loads of things had happened but it was slow, and everything was relatively minor. Maybe I’ve been ruined by all the big scaled fantasy in YA at the moment, where there are fights around every corner and you feel like your heart is in your throat.
My biggest problem with Tempests and Slaughter were there were no high stakes, there were nearly no stakes at all. I just wanted more. So much more.
“Shall I poison their breakfasts?” she asked. Her eyes were as hard as sapphires.
“Wh- who?” he stammered, but he could tell she had guessed the source of his bruises.
“I wouldn’t poison them a lot,” she reassured him with a sparkling smile. “Just enough to keep them vomiting all during examinations. Just so they’ll have to spend Midwinter making them up. I can do it. And I needn’t even use magic, so I won’t get caught.” She shook her head, looking sad. “So many kinds of sickness this time of year.”
All the secondary characters were fantastic, Varice was this incredible female character who was feminine in her kickassery, which is so often not given enough limelight.
Ozorne is this complicated mess of a boy who you root for and also secretly hope will never make his way to the throne unless he allows Arram his ear.
Preet, our sassy little bird friend is so adorable and an incredible addition to the story.
“A party with the princess!”
Varice slung her arm around his waist. “Please don’t panic yet,” she begged. “I’ll let you know when to panic.”
All in all, I did really enjoy this book and I may give the next one a chance, though I will probably check out the page count first.
Apparently, this is part of the same world as a number of Pierce’s other novels? Might have to check them out…
“How did she come to you?”
“She landed on my face.”
Ozorne was grinning when he joined Arram. “I don’t know if your luck is good or bad,” he whispered as he opened the door. “It’s certainly interesting.”
*Taken from Goodreads.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read any of Tamora Pierce’s books?
Which ones do you recommend?