Edit: Here’s another review I wrote more than a year ago, and just never posted for some reason.
You guys, I can’t believe it! I unironically enjoyed this Circleteers book! Even some of the parts with Sandry! I know, I never thought this could happen! Maybe it’s the combination of the Circleteers being back together AND them also being 18. Every book about the Circleteers (btws this is a name for them I made up since they remind me of Captain Planet) follows the same basic structure:
1) Various people think it’s impossible for the Circleteers to do things
2) They prove them wrong
3) Tris is the greatest
This book didn’t deviate from that basic structure, but now that the main characters are older, their adventures are more intricate AND often involve some form of romance, which is always a welcome distraction from the sameness of the plot. Back from their myriad travels, the Circleteers find that they have grown up and grown apart. They don’t trust each other like they used to, and they fight more. Plus, they’re kicked out of the Temple where they grew up and have to Make It On Their Own. Apparently Sandry is also a rich noblewoman, not just in their country, but also in the
Russian Namorn empire to the north! Her cousin, the empress, is throwing political temper tantrums to get her to come back there, so finally Sandry agrees. The other Circleteers go too, to protect her from the empress’ tricks.
As you can probably tell from the title and the empress’ all-seeing eyes on the cover, she is the main bad guy, always scheming to get Sandry and her money to stay in Namorn through various intrigues, kidnappings, and suave economic maneuvering. Plus, she starts tempting the other Circleteers with what they want most, which turns out to be plants, money, and lesbian love.
That’s right, this book features the first gay main character in Tamora Pierce! Daja, the smith Circleteer, has a vaguely described moment of truth and falls for a hot Namorn lady. Luckily, this is not an issues novel, so no one agonizes over it constantly or freaks out. Apparently Rosethorn and Lark, the two temple ladies running the cottage they lived in, were a couple this whole time? I thought clergy were celibate in this universe? Whatever.
Best New Character: Cousin Ambros
Guy is so long-suffering and apparently way good at math.
Returning Character Honorable Mention: Zhergeobova
I don’t really understand this guy’s name, but he was the slightly-less-insane resident of the psych ward in Cold Fire that helped Daja lead all the mental patients to safety.
What I Learned: A major point in the book is the Namornese custom of kidnapping women until they agree to marry you, which is apparently totally legal and okay in all social classes in Namorn. The Empress doesn’t care since she was kidnapped twice and managed to escape, so claims that women who don’t manage to get away “deserve what they get”. Way to stick up for the sisters, Empress B. Bride kidnapping is actually a real thing, even today! Because there is such a stigma against pregnancy out of wedlock in many cultures, the woman feels obligated to marry her abductor/rapist from shame and coercion. It happens in many different places (including the U.S.–where in 1985 a guy claimed it was a custom of his ethnic group, and so was only charged with false imprisonment instead of kidnapping and rape). Kyrgyzstan of the Impossible Spelling seems to come up a lot when discussing it, where it’s estimated that half of all marriages begin in bride kidnapping!
Thing I Most Wish Was real: Badass names like “Ladyhammer”.
Sandry is pouty that the other Circleteers have been away so long, and annoyed that she has to read another list of numbers from her cousin, who runs her estates in Namorn. Daja is glad to be coming home, but doesn’t want to mind-speak with Sandry because Sandry talks too much. Daja is pissed that no one told her she’s 18 so can’t live at the Temple anymore. But she doesn’t want any of Sandry’s pity charity so she buys a house of her own in the city. Sandry is pissed that Daja won’t “open her mind” which I guess means open their mystical hive mind connection. I guess I’m supposed to think Daja is being really mean, but I’m totes with her on this. Tris is even more grumpy than usual because, now that she can see things on the wind, it’s hard to STOP so she wears bitchin sunglasses all the time to block it. Tris doesn’t want chump charity either, and insists on being Daja’s housekeeper. Briar keeps vaguely alluding to some horribleness that befell him and Rosethorn sometime after the events in Street Magic. It’s so vague and weird that I check multiple times to make sure I haven’t skipped a book. No one wants to resume their mystical connection, because they all have SECRETS. Except Sandry, who continues being pouty.
Briar is apparently seducing everything female, except the other Circleteers. Tris says she wants to go to Lightsbride, Mage University, because she doesn’t want to use her weather powers for war. She’s going to go under a fake name so no one will know about her freaky secret powers!! I really hope this is what happens in the sequel! Secret identity Tris adventures sound great! Everyone grumbles about having to go on another field trip to Namorn! Tris sees on the wind that a dam upriver has broken just as they are crossing the river! She hurries everyone across, but they don’t listen to her and grumble, so she threatens to throw lightning at them, saving their lives. Instead of being grateful and apologizing for being jerks to her, they blame her. Tris, you need to get your own book ASAP! Read the rest of this entry »