I have not read a Tamora Pierce novel in quite some time, though she was a favorite of mine in junior high and high school.
Battle Magic is a stand-alone in a series about a group of mages. I know I read most of the books in the series, but I don’t remember most of it. But I guess that’s a sign that it was a decent stand-alone, since I wasn’t confused.
I have to confess though, the series, I recall, wasn’t my favorite of hers, and this book followed that trend.
Two mages and a student are traveling through the world learning new things and looking at new plants when they find themselves caught in the middle of a war. They have to choose whether to help or go home, whether to make an extremely powerful enemy or retreat to peace. And once they decide to help, they have to find out how they actually can.
The story itself was good, plenty of action to keep it moving. But the writing just seems a little plain. Not quite childish, but very straightforward and dry. A part of that is simply the characters–that is how they talk, it is their personalities, very straightforward. But, it would have been nice to mix it up.
I was also waiting for something–anything– to mix things up and take the story, even briefly, in a direction I didn’t expect. Though that came a bit at the end, the final plot twist was short-lived and, frankly a little bit of a let down.
Now, whether that’s true, or simply my perception based on a variety of other things I’ve been reading lately, that I’m not quite sure. But would my high school self have enjoyed it? I’d have read it, like I did the others, and probably have closed the book with a similar dissatisfaction, as I did most of the other books in the series.
These characters, I think, just aren’t the kind that make books into friends for me. Not enough sarcasm and sass, maybe. But with six or seven sets of characters in various series and quartets, it’s not surprising that a person might find she doesn’t fit in with one group. And there are plenty of other characters and stories by Tamora Pierce that I love, so I couldn’t dream of holding these against her.
It does, however, make me want to revisit some of my favorites, and maybe pursue some of the series I never got to finish…