Huge thanks to Vicky at HarperVoyager for sending me an ARC of Tempests and Slaughter!
Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.
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.
Tempests and Slaughter follows Arram, later known as the mage Numair in other books in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe, as he starts a new year at the School for Mages. After growing bored in a class full of students closer to his age but not close to his skill and trying his hand at an advanced spell (nearly flooding the school as a result) Arram ends up being moved to higher level classes, where he meets older students Varice and Ozorne. The majority of the rest of the novel follows the adventures of the three as they continue through the School for Mages.
This book definitely reminded me of Harry Potter, albeit for an older audience and with a different magic style, and I loved that about it! It was very much a coming of age story and for me, really helped to set the scene of later novels in the series’s. The first two thirds are very much centralised around the school and Arram’s daily activities and discoveries; it isn’t until later in the novel when Arram he gets a clearer vision of the harsh reality of the world he’s living in, helping to heal people afflicted by the plague as well as seeing how slavery has affected a gladiator he befriended at the start of the novel.
This is certainly a slow burn of a book but is still full of gems – Arram’s bird, Preet, and Enzi, the crocodile god who brought them together. Varice, the friend who holds the trio together, who’s sweet and thoughtful and content to do ‘basic kitchen magic’ despite her family looking down on her for it, who Arram starts to fall for throughout the book. Ozorne, the leftover prince who was definitely a hate-to-love character, with his complicated life and aversion to the throne despite growing ever closer to it. The magical mishaps and quirky teachers at the school certainly made it an uplifting book, whilst the underlying issues of slavery and racism brought it back into the real world and quite clearly set it up for the sequel. It was also interesting to read how certain Masters at the academy would look down on other Masters for believing in the wilder type of magic – again, hinting at a racist divide within this world, pitting natural magic against more scientific, ‘logic based’ magic.
Tempests and Slaughter, for me, was definitely both a character driven book rather than plot driven, and was certainly building up to something big in the rest of the series. It didn’t have a clear conflict-resolution plot line and was definitely setting the scene, leading me to believe the foreboding conflict will be coming in the next novel.
Overall, I’m really excited to continue with this series and see where Arram’s journey takes us next!
lots of love,