If I was rating this based on how excited I was to have another series in this universe, it’d be five stars all day. I can’t go beneath four, this is too precious, but I am aware I’m highly biased.
Tempests and Slaughter
feels like a step between the Tortall and Emelan universes with a dash of Harry Potter
. Young mages at school with powers beyond their years. Really the only thing holding this book in the Tortall universe is the already established characters. If Arram, Ozorne, and Varice were unknowns, it would be easy to believe we were in Emelan. Likely because the only school/training we’ve seen in Tortall has been knight or Puppy training, I more easily associate university/magic training with Winding Circle. All of the lightning magic certainly supported the allusion, as did Arram helping the potency of the dried plants used in healing to have more strength, totally channelling Tris and Briar. Add in three young students getting into scrapes and tackling advanced magic and suddenly we’ve arrived at Hogwarts.
I could easily have read page after page of Arram’s daily lessons and awkward situations. Lucky for me, the meandering plot provided just that. I’m not entirely sure if there was a purpose here, but I was happy to keep reading. There never seemed to be a climax or a significant plot point or a true ending, but suddenly it was over. I thought it was just the end of another chapter but when I turned the page, that was it.
The Sarge appearances were wonderful, I wish there were more. I’m hoping we get to see more of him, and maybe some insight into his departure, if the second book in the series is ever published. And more Lindhall, so much more Lindhall. Actually, I wouldn’t say no to more of all of Arram’s teachers. I will say, this book has convinced me to like Varice, a task I thought impossible after Emperor Mage
. Tristan and Gissa also make an appearance. Gissa is a bit of a non-entity but Tristan is every bit as terrible as you expect after reading Wolf-Speaker
. I enjoyed the sly nods to the original Cooper family from the Provost’s Dog
series – learning Beka and Farmer must have named a kid after Rosto was a true highlight.
Unfortunately, Tempests and Slaughter
trips over several mistakes so common in prequels:
➟ You can’t go back in time and give the characters all the information they obviously don’t have in the future. Wild magic, animal gods, the Graveyard Hag. All incredibly conveniently experienced or discussed throughout the book.
➟ The exact opposite is even more frustrating – you can’t establish new lore or information in a prequel that’s never mentioned again.
➥ Lightning snakes?! Way too magical and incredible to never be mentioned again in nineteen published works within the Tortall universe.
➥ All of Arram’s devotion to healing and “repaying the Gods for our Gift” and do we ever see Numair heal anything? In fact, in Wild Magic, his exact quote is: