Next Author: Marge Piercy
Previous Author: Meredith Ann Pierce

Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce writes fantasy epics in two worlds: The Tortall Universe (Song of the Lioness, Immortals, Protector of the Small, Daughter of the Lioness, Provost’s Dog) and The Circle Universe (the rest). Her work is available in audio format. Learn more at her website.

Alanna: The First Adventure: Swords, sorcery, and fun

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Alanna: The First Adventure is, indeed, the first volume of well-known fantasy author Tamora Pierce’s four-book series THE SONG OF THE LIONESS. First published back in the 1980s, the quartet was remarkable in many ways, tackling issues like gender roles, cultural tensions, self-determination, and inherited versus achieved power. Written at a time when “young adult” didn’t exist as a genre and feisty teenage girls couldn’t find much positive representation in mainstream fantasy, the series laid out many of the familiar paths and tropes of what has become modern YA fantasy. Since I’ve read a lot of novels influenced by Pierce’s work, the series’ 2014 hardcover re-release and their attending Author Afterwords was rather like following a river back to its sou... Read More

In the Hand of the Goddess: Squire Alan(na) delivers some hard knocks

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

In the Hand of the Goddess is the second installment of Tamora Pierce’s SONG OF THE LIONESS quartet, and while Pierce does provide a fair amount of backstory and repetition of key details from the previous book, Alanna, I recommend reading the books in sequence. By starting at the beginning, readers will have a better appreciation for the trials and challenges Alanna experiences in her quest to become a knight, as well as her struggle to maintain her false identity as “Alan,” since only boys are allowed to train in the king’s service. This review may contain a few spoilers for key events in Alanna, but I’ll do my best to keep them vague.

... Read More

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: Jennifer Lawrence of Arabia

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man is the third volume of the SONG OF THE LIONESS quartet and the weakest volume of the series. Tamora Pierce makes a good effort of exposing Alanna (and thus, the reader) to some of the varying peoples and customs within the Tortallan kingdom and its neighboring countries, but relies too much on the White Savior trope, and the entire book suffers as a result. As I’ve said before, readers should start with the first book, Alanna: The First Adventure and work forward, though Pierce does a great job of summarizing key events from previous books.

The entire SONG OF THE LIONESS series is about old ways changing to make way for... Read More

Lioness Rampant: A conclusion fit for a King’s Champion

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce takes the best elements of the three preceding SONG OF THE LIONESS books and polishes them to a fine sheen in Lioness Rampant, the final book of the quartet. She manages to pack swords-and-sorcery, a quest narrative, kind-hearted nobles and charming scoundrels, dastardly villains, truly affecting emotional arcs, and Alanna’s never-ending journey of self-discovery into a single volume without it feeling over-stuffed or slowing the narrative. Pierce’s skills as a writer were visibly improving as she worked on this series, and in Lioness Rampant, the reasons for her lasting and continued influence on the YA fantasy genre are obvious even when one considers how early in her career this quartet was published (1983 – 1988). This book, more tha... Read More

Wild Magic: My favorite Pierce book

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

Wild Magic was the first book I ever read by fantasy teen writer Tamora Pierce, and continues to be my favourite. It may help slightly if you have read Pierce's previous Song of the Lioness quartet, but certainly not necessary — I didn't get round to reading it until several years later. Wild Magic is the first book of The Immortals quartet, and in my opinion, the best series of stories that Pierce has to offer, placing her immensely likeable heroine Daine amidst a backdrop of magical upheaval, the threat of war and Daine's own mysterious and tragic past. That Pierce manages to meld this huge range of subjects into a coherent whole is amazing — that it is set in a fantasy world that reads as a realistic place makes it even more remarka... Read More

Wolf Speaker: A great adventure

Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce

Wolf Speaker is the second of Tamora Pierce's "Immortals Quartet" concerning fourteen-year-old Daine, a young woman who possesses "Wild Magic," giving her the ability to communicate with animals, heal any animal wound, and in this book, to gradually change her form into any animal she wishes. Pierce jumps straight into the story without hardly any background information, so if you are unfamiliar with the fantasy realm of Tortall, I very highly recommend that you don't begin your journey with this book: start with Wild Magic, or even better The Lioness Quartet, Pierce's first books concerning Tortall.

Daine and her mentor Numair have been sent abroad in order to investigate the disappearance of several of the Queen's Riders... Read More

The Emperor Mage: Couldn’t put it down

The Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce

The Emperor Mage is the third book in Tamora Pierce's The Immortals Quartet, and by this stage if you haven't read the previous installments (Wild Magic and Wolf Speaker) I heartily recommend that you don't start here — you'll be completely baffled. A peace delegation including Alanna the Lioness, the Gareths and other nobles from Tortall have been sent to the hot, swampy Charthak Empire in order to negotiate peace with the war-mongering Emperor Ozorne. With them is Numair, once the Emperor's best friend and now his sworn enemy, Daine, who has been chosen to come in order to heal the Emperor's beloved and sickly birds, and Kitten the baby-dragon, whom the Emperor is intensely curious about.

Although the negotiations intensely important to Tortall, considering that war with Chartha... Read More

The Realms of the Gods: Pierce’s best book to date

The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce

The Realms of the Gods is the final book in Tamora Pierce's Immortals quartet, and probably the best. As one can possibly guess, it's nearly impossible for someone to begin reading this series at this book — you at least have to read Book Three: The Emperor Mage, though ideally you should have all three previous books under your belt: Wild Magic and Wolf-Speaker just to have the complete picture of what's going on here.

And what's going on is that our sixteen year old heroine and her mentor Numair are constantly on the move as they do their part for the kingdom against the hoards of immortal monsters spilling over the now-destroyed barrier between the mortal and divine realms and are marching aga... Read More

Sandry’s Book: Pure enjoyment for all ages

Sandry's Book by Tamora Pierce

THE CIRCLE OF MAGIC series by Tamora Pierce consists of four books, but the action and characters are so intertwined that it makes sense for me to review them as a series. These are some of my favorite YA stories, and ones that make me cry every time I read them.

THE CIRCLE OF MAGIC tells the story of four young people — Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar — who are brought to the Winding Circle Temple by Niklaren Goldeye, a powerful mage who has had visions of each one of these young people. Sandry he rescues from a city destroyed by plague. Tris he finds at a small temple, where her family has abandoned her because of her temper. Daja is the lone survivor of a storm that destroyed her Trader family’s fleet, and Niko finds her clinging to a raft in the open ocean. Briar is a street rat and thief about to be sentenced to the docks when Niko intercede... Read More

Tris’s Book: A wonderful character

Tris's Book by Tamora Pierce

This volume is the second in a four-part series called Circle of Magic and is also titled The Power in the Storm. Set in a fantasy realm over a one-year period, Tamora Pierce tells the story of four young mages who are brought together to live at the temple community of Winding Circle, to control and properly use their various powers.

The children couldn't be more different, but their studies bring them closer together till they are bonded magically (unbeknown to their four mentors), each sharing in the other's unique magic. Pierce claims that her inspiration comes from the olde-world handicrafts that are dying from our own world, such as weaving and metalcraft. Such things are channeled through into the mage's powers, with the exception of Tris who is a 'weather witch' and can hear voices on the wind.
Read More

Daja’s Book: Prepare for a lot of warm-fuzzies

Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

Daja’s Book is the third book in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series, which has also been published as The Fire In The Forging. The quartet of books centers around the trials and tribulations of four teenage mages, separated for a variety of reasons from their families and brought to live together at Winding Circle in order to control their magic and hone their crafts. With each one roughly collaborating with an element (obviously fire, in this case), the four students form a strong bond together when they find that their unique magics can be combined and unleashed in unexpected ways. It is this extraordinary friendship that emerges between the four impossibly different young people that forms the backbone and major theme of the series.

Sandry, Briar, Tris and Da... Read More

Briar’s Book: A fantastic YA read

Briar's Book by Tamora Pierce

Briar's Book, the last book in the Circle of Magic quartet (also published as The Healing in the Vine) is perhaps one of Tamora Pierce's best novels. Unlike her other series, which deal with battles, magic, fantasy creatures, revolution and politics, Briar's Book centers something very mundane by comparison: a plague. Yet Pierce incorporates within the story all her powerful themes of love and friendship, pain and suffering, grief and hope, and humanity's capabilities for both good and evil that make her one of the best YA fantasy writers out there.

Briar Moss (who is unique among the cannon of Pierce's books considering he is her only male protagonist thus far) has spent almost a year at Discipline Cottage, Winding Circle and out of all of the young mages gath... Read More

First Test: A school story

First Test by Tamora Pierce

Throughout Tamora Pierce's range of fantasy books, the Protector of the Small quartet is unique, mainly because it is not primary a fantasy series, but a school story — more akin to the likes of Enid Blyton's Naughtiest Girl in the School or Mallory Towers. This may seem like an odd thing to say, but on close inspection I think you'll find it's true. Though there are fantasy elements present, the main narrative of the book is concerned with topic that you find in other books of the school-story genre (including Harry Potter), including school bullies, malevolent teachers, homework assignments, camaraderie among peers, "hazing" younger students, and even sporting tourna... Read More

Page: Deeper and better than First Test

Page by Tamora Pierce

Keladry of Mindelin (or "Kel" to her friends ) has completed her first year of training to be a knight, and conquered the unfair probation that the training-master Wyldon inflicted on her. Now she hopes she can finally get on with her life-long dream of following in Lady-Knight Alanna's footsteps, and take the next step in becoming a knight of Tortall.

But things are never as easy as that, and there are still those among her who are determined to see her fail. Yet, as in her first year, Kel is helped by old friends Neal, Merric, Owen, Cleon and Prince Roald, her stallion Peachblossom and the flock of friendly sparrows outside her window. As well as this are two new allies; the timid maid Lalasa whom Kel takes into her employment, and Jump the mongrel who has 'adopted' Kel as his own. When the year starts the work begins, along with page-duties of serving the court, summer camps in the wilderness, skirmishes w... Read More

Squire: Ends on a note of both hope and foreboding

Squire by Tamora Pierce

Keladry of Mindelin (or "Kel" as she's better known) has finally completed her page training, passed her exams and conquered the ongoing bullying that's plagued her since she first signed up to become a Lady Knight. Now that she is a squire, she's eager to begin her duties under a knight of the realm — and is shocked and awed when Raoul of Goldenlake offers to take her on. Anyone who has read the Song of the Lioness quartet knows how much of a legend he is in Tortall. Soon the two are a close knit-team, as Kel accompanies him to bandit-raided villages and centaur populated lands. Soon she's learning through experience, with the grim realities of living rough and dispensing justice to criminals becoming an everyday occurrence — and there's still the same old prejudice against a female squire.

As the book progresses, Kel comes up against man... Read More

Lady Knight: Ordinary girl become a hero

Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce

Finally, Keladry of Mindelin ("Kel" to her friends) has completed her training and been dubbed Lady Knight of Tortall in this final installment of The Protector of the Small quartet. She's conquered bullies, prejudice, kidnappings, skirmishes, the skepticism of Lord Wyldon, and the terrifying Ordeal; the chamber that all squires must endure if they are to be knighted. She's all ready to throw her weight into the Scanran War, especially considering the vision that the Chamber of Ordeal granted her: Kel knows the identity and appearance of the man who is behind the monstrous killing machines that have been plaguing her people. Made from the iron-covered bones of giants and geared by the trapped spirits of children, the terrible machines are creating severe losses for Tortall and Kel is eager to be rid of them once and for all.

But her super... Read More

Magic Steps: Not Pierce’s best

Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

Magic Steps is the first book of the Tamora Pierce quartet entitled The Circle Opens. Featuring the characters of The Circle of Magic quartet, this new series continues their story by exploring how each of the four main characters — just coming to grips with their powers in the previous books — now handle the challenge of becoming teachers themselves. Unfortunately, Pierce has decided that one of the prerequisites of this new experience is that the four protagonists — Sandry, Briar, Daja and Tris — must be separated in order to focus on the new relationships that they forge with their students. Therefore, Magic Steps opens with the acknowledgement that Briar, Tris and Daja have set off (separately) with their teac... Read More

Street Magic: Pierce’s imagination is on full blast

Street Magic by Tamora Pierce

It's ironic that feminist writer Tamora Pierce's only male character, the self-named Briar Moss, is one of her best characters. Amongst the rest of the mainly female cast, his charisma, street smarts and ongoing inner conflict between his younger, wilder instincts, and his older, more civilized self, makes him one of the most lovable and well-rounded characters in the Circle of Magic series.

The first four books gathered together four magical protégées: aristocratic Sandry, moody bookworm Tris, stoic Daja, and street-rat Briar, all of whom have complimentary powers that allowed them to perform startling acts of magic. Underlying their feats are the strength of the friendship and the bonds of trust that they forge, making the original four books one of the most touching examples of a self-made foster family in young adu... Read More

Cold Fire: A strong potrayal of community

Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce

The Circle Opens quartet deals with the ongoing adventures of the four Winding Circle students as they themselves become the teachers to new (and even younger) apprentices. Sadly, one of the prerequisites of this teaching experience is that the four friends are separated, as became clear in Magic Steps, in which we learn from Sandry that Briar, Tris and Daja have left on far-flung journeys with their respective teachers in order to improve their own magical crafts. As such, the wonderful friendship that was the heart and soul of the previous quartet (Circle of Magic) is put on hiatus as the four make new friends, become teachers and deepen the relationship between themselves and their mentors.

Daja (still sporting the copper-cover hand that she earned... Read More

Shatterglass: As always, Tamora Pierce delivers a great story

Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce

This, the fourth and final installment in the THE CIRCLE OPENS quartet is itself a sequel to Tris’s Book in the original CIRCLE OF MAGIC series. There, the reader was introduced to four immensely powerful but untrained young mages: aristocratic Sandry, stoic Daja, street-rat Briar and outcast Trisana, called "Tris" for short. In a departure from her usual action-adventure stories, Tamora Pierce concentrated on character for this particular series, describing how this disparate group of youngsters was brought to the safety of the Winding Circle temple in order to learn how to control their abilities. Over the course of the four books, the children formed an unbreakable bond with each other and with the teachers that are still guiding them toward mastery of their craft and the responsibilities of adulthood.

With this new seri... Read More

Trickster’s Choice: Have the sequel on hand

Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce

The last time we saw Alianne of Pirate’s Swoop was briefly in Wild Magic, as a little girl of about five. Now she’s sixteen, and the true product of her parents: Alanna the King’s Champion and George Cooper, the King’s Spymaster. Although she’s eager to take her place amongst the adults of her world, honing her gifts as a spy, she’s also perfectly content to spend her time relaxing, flirting and mischief-making — much to the disappointment of her mother.

After a particularly uncomfortable squabble with her mother over her prospects for the future, Aly decides to sail her boat to her friends’ estate for a while till her fiery mother cools down. However, Aly didn’t count on the pirates prowling the coast, who capture her and put her on sale as a slave within a few pages! This of course, is where the story really starts. Aly is approached by the trickster... Read More

Trickster’s Queen: Proves that Pierce is the master of YA fantasy

Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce

Trickster's Queen is the sequel to Tamora Pierce's Trickster's Choice and (so far) the first set of books that are not quartets, but a simple duet. It is also by far her longest book, and in her acknowledgements she credits that to J.K. Rowling due to the fact that the Harry Potter books are so thick. Both books take place in Pierce's Tortall universe, though are situated on the Copper Isles rather than Tortall as in the Alanna, Immortals, and Protector of the Small quarte... Read More

Terrier: Another fine work by Tamora Pierce

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

In Terrier Tamora Pierce tells the story of Rebekah "Beka" Cooper, an ancestor of George Cooper who was the City's Rogue in the time of Alanna (a setting and characters familiar to readers of her other novels). Beka is starting her first year as a trainee Dog, known as a Puppy (these are nicknames for the Provost's Guard — the force that keeps peace in the city of Corus). She is assigned to the Dog team of Tunstall and Goodwin, two of the best Dogs in the Evening Watch — and two who have never before taken a Puppy.

Beka has her work cut out as Tunstall and Goodwin begin her training, never letting her forget that she may have knowledge but that experience is all on the streets of the Lower City. So when Beka starts sniffing out two linked plots — one to mine the City of precious fire opals, and one to steal away the Rat's children as blackm... Read More

Tempests and Slaughter: The education of young Numair

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

With Tempests and Slaughter (2018), Tamora Pierce launches a new series set in her beloved Tortall universe, which includes over twenty books. Pierce backtracks several years to relate the youthful experiences of Arram Draper, who plays a key role in other TORTALL books, particularly the IMMORTALS series, as the powerful mage Numair.

When Tempests and Slaughter begins, Arram is a ten year old boy, just beginning a new year at the School for Mages, part of the Imperial University of Carthak. Arram is much younger than most of his schoolmates at his level, and he feels the age difference keenly; in fact, he claims to be eleven, but that does little to narrow the social gap. One day Arram gets in trouble in a water magic ... Read More

More books by Tamora Pierce

The Circle Reforged — (2005-2013) Young adult. Publisher: For years the Empress of Namorn has pressed her young cousin, Lady Sandrilene fa Toren, to visit her vast lands within the Empire’s borders. Sandry has avoided the invitation for as long as it was possible. Now Sandry has agreed to pay that overdue visit. Sandry’s uncle promises guards to accompany her. But they’re hardly a group of warriors! They’re her old friends from Winding Circle: Daja, Tris, and Briar. Sandry hardly knows them now. They’ve grown up and grown apart. Sandry isn’t sure they’ll ever find their old connection again — or if she even wants them to.

the will of the empress tamora pierceTamora Pierce Circle novel: The Melting Stonesfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

YA Tamora Pierce Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of TalesTortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales — (2011) Young adult. Publisher: Collected here for the first time are all of the tales from the land of Tortall, featuring both previously unknown characters as well as old friends. Filling some gaps of time and interest, these stories, some of which have been published before, will lead Tammy’s fans, and new readers into one of the most intricately constructed worlds of modern fantasy.