Monday, February 20, 2012

The Epic Reading List Updated: Emperor Mage

List Update as of February 20th

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins
12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce

15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce

During my reread of the Alanna books I shared my favorite of the four covers (In The Hand of the Goddess). For The Immortals, my favorite of the covers is Emperor Mage. It has a certain elegance and life to it that isn't really matched in the others, though Wild Magic is probably my second favorite and comes closeish.

She's even wearing a dress described in the book!
Emperor Mage. This is the book in The Immortals that brings everything together. In Emperor Mage we finally meet the character for which the book is named. Ozorne the emperor mage of the Carthak has been a presence throughout the first two books. The unofficial attack on Pirate's Swoop in Wild Magic and the treasonous plot in Wolf Speaker were all done in (unprovable) connection to Ozorne. He does not disappoint.

This one takes place in Carthak rather than Tortall so, like The Woman Who Rides Like A Man, we get to see some of the customs of another place. Carthak is very different than Tortall and Pierce makes that known. None of our characters are comfortable here for a variety of reasons and all of them have to watch their step as they attempt the impossible in negotiating peace. For the first time we witness our characters being forced to really act like nobles and ambassadors as the world outside of Tortall imagines them. It's an interesting read for that reason alone.

One of Tamora Pierce's favorite plot devices is to make her characters tools of the gods. Alanna had the Mother Goddess and Daine gets to play with a number of them. The Badger makes regular appearances in the novels and this time around Carthak's patron goddess The Graveyard Hag forces Daine to be her puppet. The goddess' power to raise the dead is bestowed on Daine for a time. This follows the pattern of Daine learning a new power in each book. She doesn't get to keep this one but it's a great tool while she has it. Unlike Alanna who respects the gods, Daine is vocal in her dislike of being used, even going as far as the yell at the gods.

Daine has always been a fiery character. She speaks her confusion, her discomfort, everything for anyone near her to hear. In Emperor Mage we get to see her really lose her temper. An entire chapter is actually named "Daine Loses her Temper." She had perfectly good reason for it having been drugged and kidnapped by Ozorne, her friends set back under the impression that she has run off to start a rebellion, war on the horizon, and worst of all, that Ozorne has had Numair executed (I did say she had good reason, didn't I?). And Daine loses her temper spectacularly. Waking up dinosaur skeletons to fight and hunting down Ozorne as a hyena. Seeing Daine lose her temper and yell at the goddess is also fun.

Tamora Pierce creates a spectacular villain in Ozorne. All of the other characters have warned Daine that he is not to be trusted but upon first meeting him he is charming and exhibits a weakness for animals. There is always that underscore of menace when he's on the page but his soft spot for his birds is charming and also a great distinction for Daine to learn. So far each of the characters we've met who love animals have been sided with Daine and it is interesting to meet one who is a villain. As the book continues she begins to see his ruthless streak. When the book ends Ozorne and his threat are not eliminated but transformed.

The relationships between the established characters that were largely absent in the last book are back in Emperor Mage. I've made it pretty clear that these characters and their relations are one of my favorite things. I love seeing Alanna act like a mother toward Daine. I don't think I ever really picked up on it in my past reads and I love it this time. Numair's protective streak of Daine is in full force in addition to being introduced a bit to his jealousy. The infamous reunion scene between Daine and Numair is beautifully written and a little heartbreaking and heart warming and all around wonderful.

While Tamora Pierce is usually very careful about her use of page there are a few times her descriptions become a little much. They are largely in place to show how different things in Carthak are. They're rich, way beyond wasteful.  But sometimes they get to be distracting and too much. With a little less it would have been easier to be as overwhelmed as Daine rather than distracted from what was happening.

That's really the only thing I can think of in terms of complaints. It ties everything in the previous two books together but sets up the final fight that is to come in the last book The Realms of the Gods. There is a great deal at stake as the immortals tear through the world.

I loved this book. It's as beautiful an intricate as the cover. There is so much going on and more characters are introduced that I know we'll see later and it's all tying together wonderfully. It is books like Emperor Mage that show just how well Tamora Pierce knows her world and just how connected all of her stories are.

Overall Rating: Massively Epic

Next is the last non Tamora Pierce book on the Epic Reading List. A book I've heard a lot about and am excited to start, Veronica Roth's Divergent.

Until then,


1 comment:

  1. Amazing review, Amy! So glad that you enjoyed this book! This book is not the kind I usually read but I guess this book really worth a shot! Thanks for bringing this to my radar! :)

    Thanks for following my blog, followed back your awesome blog! <3