Synopsis: While visiting the God-King and the First Circle temple in Gyongxe, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are invited to visit the emperor’s summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxe, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion.
Accompanied by one of the emperor’s prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxe to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle.
But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?
I’m a fan of Tamora Pierce, though more of the Alanna and sequel series. I actually thought I’d already read this so it was a nice surprise to be wrong.
Spoilers for previous books in the Circle series. Plus this book actually now that I think about it. Spoilers for Battle Magic marked and a little bit rant-y.
My problems with this book date back to the beginning of the Reforged series. Before I read Will of the Empress (but after reading the synopsis) I assumed it would be a straight continuation from The Circle Opens series. The series ended in Shatterglass with what I took to be the end of the Circle members’ individual adventures as they seemed to be all heading home to Emelan. Previously I had hoped that there would be more books in the style of The Circle Opens; maybe a few crossover points as two groups of travellers explored the same territory. Either of these would have been fine. Instead Tamora tries to do both, and ruins a chance at doing either very well.
I liked Will of the Empress. It was longer than the usual books, which is (usually, and in this case) a good thing for authors you enjoy. There’s a big jump though, between the end of Shatterglass and the beginning of the book. I had to put the book down several times to check through various means that there were no other books that came in between. This was due to the near-constant references to previous events that had not been covered in any of the previous books, in a far too familiar way. Okay, that’s fine, I thought. Obviously we’re going to get to this before the end of the book as Briar resolves his issues. The end of the book comes and goes and we are none the wiser to Briar’s traumatic near-past experiences.
Back we jump and into Evvy’s head for Melting Stones. Still, we’re not at the traumatic stage. Being perfectly honest I remember next to nothing about this novel it was that interesting.
Battle Magic is where the trauma is supposed to have happened. It’s been so long that I’ve almost given up caring at this point, but I read the book anyway. It could be good. This could be the redemption I’ve been hoping for.
No. In a word.
Less-spoilery paragraph: There’s no suspense, little action, the synopsis covers about half the book and the people who are possibly in real danger we don’t really care about because we’ve spent little to no time with them. Continuity is abused for the purposes of the story in The Will of the Empress.
If you can, and still want to, I strongly suggest reading this before Melting Stones, and Melting Stones before Will of the Empress. For the life of me I cannot understand why they were not published in that order. Though Tamora seems to like quadrilogies so maybe hold off on reading anything. My experience may have soured my enjoyment of this series, but if I could go back I might even go so far as to not read The Circle Reforged series at all.
Scroll down for optional spoiler-filled paragraph.
Very-spoilery Paragraph: There is a bit of action. Some of the fight scenes are interesting. The plot though seems cobbled together from bits and pieces in Will of the Empress and whatever was lying around at the beginning of the book. An odd power is gained by everybody through a series of weird coincidences, people are presumed dead when we know they aren’t because this is a prequel, and then some gods show up to save the day. Afterwards everyone who leaves the country forgets because magic. Or rather, because gods. Luvo was fun though. Mostly.