Mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are visiting the mystical mountain kingdom of Gyongxe when they are suddenly called away. The emperor of Yanjing has invited them to see his glorious gardens. During their brief stay, though, the mages see far more than splendid flowers. They see the emperor’s massive army, his intense cruelty, and the devastating magic that keeps his power in place.
When the mages discover the emperor’s plans to invade Gyongxe, they race to protect its treasured temples. But duty, magic, and terror threaten to drive them apart. With time running out, can the mages come together to save their spiritual home?
After two previous books filled with hints and comments, we finally get the full war story from Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy. Unfortunately, this leaves us with very few surprises and no serious fear or tension. After all, we already know all the worst parts and we know they all survive. All that’s left is to fill in the details.
The worst part is that if Battle Magic had been first or second in the Circle Reforged series, I can easily see this being at least a four-star review. With everything they experience there is the potential for a lot of suspense, not knowing what’s going to happen. But all the best parts have already been given away. Sure, there are interesting creatures and new magic and new countries, but without the underlying tension this story deserves, it falls flat.
Better than Melting Stones, there is at least enough story to fill the whole book. I just wish I didn’t know all the major plot points before even starting. Furthermore, this entire series is unsatisfying and confusing. How is this the circle reforged? Only The Will of the Empress meets that criteria with the reunion of Briar, Daja, Sandry, and Tris. None of them are even in Melting Stones! And then, for some reason, we go back in time in Battle Magic to before the events of The Will of the Empress. The entire series is heavy on the Briar/Rosethorn/Evvy storyline and jumps all over the timeline with no explanation or logic. While I’ve always preferred the Tortall universe over the Emelan universe, the Circle Reforged series has only confirmed that I was right to feel this way.