by Tamora Pierce
Recommended Age: 12+
All right, I’ve finally done it. After 4,322,845 e-mails begging, bribing, threatening, and demanding that I read something by Tamora Pierce and review it for the Book Trolley, I finally took the hint. Now PLEASE don’t say I never listened to you! And pleeeease believe me when I say that I WILL read more books by Tamora Pierce and review them in due time. Just be patient!
I would only make this last promise if I actually liked the first book that I tried. And I did like it. It was the first book in a series called “The Immortals,” which I believe is a companion to another series called “The Lioness Quartet.” As of 1997 (the date of the paperback that my friend Heather sent me), there were two other books in “The Immortals” series: Wolf Speaker and Emperor Mage. My guess is that a fourth book has concluded the series since then, since Ms. Pierce seems to specialize in Quartets.
Another thing Ms. Pierce seems to specialize in is heroines—fantasy with strong female characters, told from a feminine point of view. Nevertheless, even Hagrid lookalikes [EDIT: like me] can enjoy this tale. It has horses, dogs, birds, and all kinds of animals—and a 13-year-old girl named Daine who can somehow talk to them. Daine hires herself to Onua, horsemistress to the “Queen’s Own” coed cavalry, to assist Onua in driving a herd of ponies from a distant market to the boot camp where young riders are trained. Daine hides some painful secrets in her bosom, but some of them have not even been revealed to her yet—including the fact that she has “wild magic” running strongly inside her. It isn’t the kind of gift that wizards have, but it allows her to call to the animals, to heal wounds, and perhaps to do even greater things.
Daine soon becomes indispensible to Onua, the daring Queen Thayet, and the lady-knight Alanna; for the kingdom is faced by several crises at once—and not by coincidence. A foreign enemy is preparing for an invasion. Pirates, traitors, and evil mages are abroad. Innocents are in danger. And at the same time, magical creatures have been unleashed from the Divine Realms, where they have been imprisoned for hundreds of years, to wreak havoc on land, people, and animals. At the center of it all is a little girl who fears that she will forget herself if she goes too far with her magic, and who cares too deeply about her creatures to risk letting them fight for her friends. And yet it is Daine, and only she, who can communicate with the griffins... the kraken... the dragon... and other astounding and often deadly beings her party encounters. And it is only her creatures who can restrain the overwhelming tide of enemy forces as her friends take their last stand...
I like Daine as a character because she grows and learns so much. And I know I am going to read more about her, because her story does not end with this book.
EDIT: My appeal fell on deaf ears. Tamora Pierce fans are a persistent lot - and another trait they share is thoroughness, embodied in a tendency to send detailed lists of her books that I have yet to read. Sigh... Anyway, there is indeed a fourth book in "The Immortals Quartet," titled The Realms of the Gods. Rather than listing her other works, I'll let you Wiki that for yourself.