Tamora Pierce is one of my all time favorite authors. I’ve been following her work since I was in middle school. I started with her Tortall series and then found her Circle of Magic series (which grew into The Circle Opens series), and I have loved pretty much everything she has written (so you can already see this review is biased in her favor, right?).
Battle Magic is the missing story of Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy that takes place between the Circle Opens series and The Will of the Empress. In this tale, Briar, his teacher, Rosethorn, and their student, Evvy, are fleeing the Empire to help its intended target Gyongxe, a neighboring kingdom. Here, they discover the powerful draw of war and standing up for your beliefs as well as to protect the innocent. However, they also discover the cost of war in both the loss of life and in the destruction of the land. Can they survive the Empire’s greed for land and power? Will they ever make it home to Briar’s sisters and Rosethorn’s love?
One of the reasons I love Tamora Pierce so much is because of her writing. The detail she gives her settings and people really bring them to life on the page. The characters encompass all human emotions from the simple happy/sad to the complex dynamics of love and protection. Each character grows in someway or another and each face a challenge to either their ethics or their ideal view of the world. Nothing is concrete – there are always shades of grey.
Some may view the novel as slow but to me the pace built until the war begins. Now some of this may be a bit spoiler-y but considering you know some of what happens if you read The Will of the Empress, then it isn’t too bad. I highly recommend this book and you don’t have to have read any of the other books that came before to enjoy and understand this one. But, if you want a complete idea of the series you can start with the Circle of Magic quartet and then move up to The Circle Opens quartet. Then I would read Battle Magic and finally The Will of the Empress. But really the order is up to you. I will say that if you are interested in starting from the beginning, you will find the first two quartets in Juvenile Fiction and the last two in Teen Fiction.
Here are the book cover for your enjoyment.