Book Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Posted October 15, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Tempests and Slaughter

Tempests and Slaughter

by Tamora Pierce

Series: The Numair Chronicles #1
Publisher: Random House on February 6, 2018
Genre: Fantasy
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.


I first read Wild Magic when I was, I think, 11?  Which means that I first met Numair in 2000, and I’ve been waiting for 20 years for the rest of his story.  And even though I have this in hardcopy and it came out two years ago, I still waited and ended up listening to an audiobook, because once you’ve waited that long for a book… what’s another couple years, right?

Tempests and Slaughter has all the magic I was expecting from a new Tamora Pierce novel. It felt like she brought her two worlds together a bit with this one, giving us a magical university like in The Circle of Magic series, and of course our beloved mage from Tortall.  It felt a bit like a coming home, back to her earlier writing and her earlier style.  The writing was still more complicated and nuanced than The Immortals, where were first meet Numair/Aram Draper, but it is still a book about a young student.

The themes, however, are a lot more complex than her previous books.

The friendships we get in Tempests and Slaughter are easily won, but their growth and evolution is interesting to watch.  Because not only do we get Aram’s story, but alongside we get a bit of a villain origin story in Ozorne.  Pierce also looks into the slave trade she created in her earlier books (particularly The Immortals and her Trickster duology) and approaches it with a new eye – one who would see the system end.  There are some conversations about the inhumanity of it and the privilege and supremacy of the upper classes.  It turns Aram’s stomach, and he struggles to have these difficult conversations with his friend, and it was a really good exploration to have in a world that hasn’t really addressed this before.  It’s wonderful to see how Pierce has grown and educated herself that she is able to look at her own creation and address it.

Still, it pains me to say, Tempests and Slaughter is a bit… pointless?  There’s no self-contained plot in this first book – it just meanders, showing us the world, and then… it… ends.  For someone who has read the other Tortall books and loves this character already and knows the world better than any other fantasy world, this was just a little disappointing.  But for a new generation coming into Pierce’s extended work, it would be an absolute turnoff.  A lot of modern YA readers don’t go for Wild Magic or Alanna because of the simple voice it takes – Tempests and Slaughter is Pierce’s first major book in about a decade, and could have brought in a bunch of new readers.  But it won’t, because by the time you get to the end, it’s just sort of.  Bleh.  What was the point of all that?  And that’s a bummer because her collected worlds are so magical and wonderful and Tempests and Slaughter is, as a whole, not that good of a story.

The world is as on-point as ever.  The characters are good (although I’m struggling to reconcile young Aram with the older Numair, but I suppose that will come with time).  The plot is absolute pointless rubbish at this stage, though, so the following books better have something to offer.  It kills me, because I LOVE LOVE LOVE Tamora Pierce as a whole, but I don’t think I could recommend this one to new readers.  Middle graders should start with Wild Magic or Alanna and older readers with Terrier or Trickster’s Choice.  Unfortunately, Tempests and Slaughter is mostly an indulgent nostalgia read.  Unless book two is good.  Then it will just be something to slog through to get to the good stuff.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★
Plot: ★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★

3 Star Rating


Have you ever waited an exorbitant amount of time for a book, only to have it be “just okay”?  If so, which book was it?  How did you feel after reading it?  Tell me all about your disappointment in the comments!

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