A new Tamora Pierce book!!! Be still, my heart! No, really, be still, because as much as I wanted it to be, this wasn’t the heart-pounding book I was anticipating.
We meet Arram Draper, a 10 year old who’s already lying about his age, at the arena, where brutal games are going on. He has an adventure, nearly gets killed, and then goes back to school. The rest of the book is about him at school.
I was really excited about this book. It’s the first in a series and it’s thick – I love thick books! I’ve read all of Tamora Pierce’s other books, so I know that this is the backstory of Numair Saliman, a mage of great power and good repute. It was completely a Harry Potter ripoff.
Harry Arram has two friends he meets pretty quickly in the story: Ron Ozorne (who becomes the emperor) and Hermione Varice (I forget what happens to her, but I know she’s not who Numair ends up with). They have adventures together and separately. They grow up. It was like Tamora Pierce squeezed at least 6 years at Hogwarts the Imperial University of Carthak into one book, glossing over any unimportant details and just giving us the highlights, which include Arram’s first couple erections, how good Arram is, sneak peeks of the power-hungry despot Ozorne’s going to become, how good Arram is, plague (because Tamora really likes plagues), how good Arram is, how bad slavery is, how bad the arena games are, and how good Arram is. There’s really no villain, just an unsolved murder. Oh, and someone’s killing all the princes and making it look like an accident. We never find out who, but Arram’s baddies are all minor characters whom he and his great power can always easily vanquish. I hope to get around to reviewing more of Tamora Pierce’s books, because she was one of my favorite fantasy authors growing up, but for me this book fell short of her other books.
Tamora Pierce probably put in the information about Arram’s first couple erections because “it’s something that happens and so kids should be aware of it.” I’m not arguing that they shouldn’t be aware of it, but it was out of place in this book. It distracted and I’m thankful she only talked about it for the time span of one semester at school. Then she moved onto other important topics like how bad slavery is (definitely agree) and how horrible gladiator games are (also agree). She described wounds and illnesses and smells very realistically. There is a TON of magic here – it is a book about a boy becoming a
wizard mage. There are big gods and little gods and in-between gods, pretty much you can’t throw a stone in the river without hitting a god. And of course Arram has their attention.
Overall, there are better Tamora Pierce books.
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