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 against Tortall. Daine is sure that behind all of this is the ex-Emperor Ozorne, whom she toppled from his throne the previous year and is now out for revenge.
But there is another force also working against them, and indeed against the very gods themselves: Uusoae, the Goddess of Chaos who is using her newfound alliance with Ozorne to wage war against all the realms. It is in the middle of this tempest that Daine finds herself, but when she and Numair are nearly killed, the gods themselves intervene. Here finally, Daine learns the truth about her parentage, and the identity of her long-absent father.
But as happy as she is to be with her mother and father once more, she and Numair are very aware of the plight of their friends back home, and their importance in the coming battle. But the only way to return to the mortal realms is to beseech the help of the dragons, and to get there the two must take a dangerous journey across the Realms of the Gods…
Tamora Pierce really outdoes herself in this final installment, and though many may disagree, I feel that this is her best book to date, melding together a range of themes and ideas, with the cosmic battle of the gods contrasted against the human Battle of Port Legann; Daine’s parental fear toward Kit the dragonet against the blossoming romance she feels for her long-time friend and mentor. Moments that feel utterly epic are matched against the everyday necessities of life, and throughout it all Daine remains an immensely likeable heroine: trustworthy, courageous, loving, kind and intelligent.
For those who have followed Daine’s journey throughout the four books, this should be an immensely satisfying conclusion, filled with familiar faces: Tkaa, Kit, the badger, Jonathon and Thayet, and several new and equally fascinating ones: Gainel, the silent god of dreams (who gives Daine some fascinating dreams), Broad Foot, the god of the duck-moles and Weiryn, Daine’s very own father. Most importantly for me though was the Stormwing Rikash, whose inclusion in the story completes Daine’s self-growth: from a young woman who blindly hated and destroyed that particular race, to a woman who comes to consider one a friend. It is a particularly sublime bit of character development.
In fact, if there is one thing wrong with The Realms of the Gods, it is that there isn’t enough of it! It could quite easily have been a novel twice as big, had Pierce taken the time to unfold the story a bit more gradually. The book is a treasure-chest of information and ideas, and I would have enjoyed reading more of it, at a more leisurely pace. However, it’s fine just the way it is, and because it’s a young-adult book, I can understand why she chose to keep the pace moving along swiftly.
I would have liked to have seen more from Kit, Alanna, Onua and Cloud (in particular I was sure that Kit’s role had been building up in order to play a major part in this book) but the huge range of other characters compensate. The Daine/Numair romance might take some readers by surprise (she’s sixteen, and he’s thirty!) but they do make a strong, realistic couple, void of the mushy hearts and flowers of the usual courtly love to be found in fantasy. For those that are interested, we find out the name of Kit’s mother, but strangely the badger remains simply “the badger”. Finally, we are treated to a nice council of the gods at the conclusion of the story, and if you read closely enough, you might catch a cameo-appearance from a certain purple-eyed cat from the Song of the Lioness quartet!
The Immortals — (1992-1996) Young adult. Publisher: Thirteen-year-old Daine has always had a knack with animals, but it’s not until she’s forced to leave home that she realizes it’s more than a knack — it’s magic. With this wild magic, not only can Daine speak to animals, but also she can make them obey her. Daine takes a job handling horses for the Queen’s Riders, where she meets the master mage Numair and becomes his student. Under Numair’s guidance, Daine explores the scope of her magic. But she begins to sense other beings too: immortals. These bloodthirsty monsters have been imprisoned in the Divine Realms for the past four hundred years, but now someone has broken the barrier. It’s up to Daine and her friends to defend their world from an immortal attack.