Books by Tamora Pierce

Released: Feb. 6, 2018

"Anyone can jump into the Numair Chronicles, but the novel will especially appeal to fans of the Tortall books. (Fantasy. 12-adult)"
Pierce's new prequel series chronicles the beginnings of one of Tortall's greatest mages. Read full book review >
BATTLE MAGIC by Tamora Pierce
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Pierce herself has teeming armies of fans, guaranteeing that this routine, cozily predictable outing will be a huge seller. (map, glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)"
Pierce continues to fill gaps in her Circle of Magic sequence—here sending three of her mages eastward to defend the (Tibet-ish) land of Gyongxe against an invasion from (China-esque) Yanjing. Read full book review >
MASTIFF by Tamora Pierce
Released: Oct. 25, 2011

"An involving police procedural wrapped in fantasy clothing, this novel provides both crackerjack storytelling and an endearingly complex protagonist. (Fantasy/mystery. 12 & up)"
Pierce's sturdy policewoman Beka Cooper returns for a triumphant trilogy conclusion. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 22, 2011

In this collection, Pierce's fantasy worlds teem with a wide variety of heroines: math prodigies, shepherds and martial artists, primarily girls of color, mostly fighting sexism. In the lovely, necessary "Lost," abused young Adria is filled with despair when her teacher tells her she's incompetent at math. Adria, who believes "engineers are almost like gods," discovers a mentor—a female engineer—to nurture her talent. Teky, in "The Hidden Girl," secretly teaches girls to read holy writ, finding strength in her knowledge and her choice to wear a burqa. Teky provides a vital counterpoint to the disquieting, outsider perspective in "Elder Brother." Here Fadal, who chooses life disguised as a boy over the veil, hopes to travel to Tortall, which she (falsely) believes is a feminist idyll. Familiar characters return: Tortall fans will delight in new adventures of the darkings, Kitten the dragon and Aly the spymaster. Nor are young men neglected in these compact comings-of-age. Nawat (of Trickster's Choice, 2003), in the most adult of the tales, learns the harsh realities of fatherhood (and witnesses a remarkably physically explicit childbirth). Powerfully, he realizes his love for a child with a disability conflicts with his upbringing. Unusually for Pierce, one contemporary fantasy and one realistic fiction piece close out the collection. A mixed bag with many ardent, needful tales of girls discovering inner resources. (Short stories/fantasy. 12-16)Read full book review >
BLOODHOUND by Tamora Pierce
Released: April 28, 2009

In this second volume in Pierce's historical Tortall trilogy, Beka Cooper is now a junior Dog (police officer) in the Corus slums. Beka's uncompromising morality will never make her popular, but it nets her a high class of friends—and gains her a new scent-hound (endearingly named Achoo), rescued from a brutal former master. Her latest adventure starts slowly, with creeping worry about the large number of counterfeit silver coins she's seen. Soon she's investigating the counterfeits in the nearby city of Port Caynn, befriending gamblers and making enemies of both magistrates and criminals. Beka's Tortall is clearly distinct from the 200-years-later Tortall of the Alanna books: Elizabethan-inspired (and decipherable) slang adds earthy flavor, and the thin line between crime and law shows more subtlety than the high-fantasy good and evil of Alanna's world. Despite the languid pace, Beka's detective work will appeal not just to Pierce fans, but to lovers of police procedurals. After all, the detail-oriented, plodding movement of the story—much like Beka's own method—builds to a well-established, satisfying revelation. (Fantasy. 11-14)Read full book review >
MELTING STONES by Tamora Pierce
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

In this first print edition of a tale originally conceived of and published as an audiobook (2007), the magic of Evumeimei Dingzai, a rough-edged young stone mage last met in Street Magic (2001), is tested to its limits on (and under) an island afflicted with mysterious dead zones. It doesn't take Evvy long to learn that the island of Starns is volcanic in origin and that after thousands of years powerful fire entities from the planet's core have nearly reached the surface. Can she convince the skeptical surface residents to flee and simultaneously divert the coming eruption? Thanks to a quick temper and rudimentary people skills shaped by her harsh early life, the first shapes up to be tougher than the second; fortunately, she has allies—notably Luvo, a deceptively small, stonelike being who is actually the ancient living heart of a mountain. Related in a strongly individual voice, expertly set in context without longwinded explanations and well-stocked with nuanced characters of several ages and species, this suspenseful tale is lit up with magic. (Fantasy. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

Tris, Sandry, Briar and Daja return in the latest Circle book, but their formerly close friendship has weakened as they've grown apart on their separate adventures. Once closer than siblings, the four no longer understand one another. Nonetheless, when Sandry is summoned to her ancestral lands in Namorn at Empress Berenene's whim, only her friends—all supremely powerful mages—can protect her from political machinations. Berenene wants Sandry to stay, though Namorn's unpleasant and misogynistic legal system revolts the quartet. Sandry finds herself wooed by Berenene's courtiers, while practical Tris is tempted with education and Briar with the palace's extensive gardens. Daja, meanwhile, finds love with one of Berenene's ladies. The four come to terms with one another's passages to adulthood in this surprisingly rich adventure. Main characters all get satisfactory depth, although much development is left tantalizingly unresolved for future offerings. When Pierce first began writing longer books, her pacing was shaky; she's settled into the length quite well. Satisfying. (Fantasy. 12-14)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 11, 2005

This collection is gathered around a single theme—that of a child or teen warrior. Giving its contributors a wide berth, the editors have permitted a flourishing of some fabulous ideas. As is nearly always true of such things, however, the stories range widely in focus and power. Some are dark: Holly Black's "Heartless," wherein a girl who scavenges from the fallen in battle at last finds death too much; some are gentle and funny, like Esther Friesner's spirited and tough young Helen of Troy or Mike Resnick's truce between boy and dragon. Tamora Pierce herself offers the origins of the Shang Unicorn from her Lioness stories, and Margaret Mahy's tale of a magician and his unexpected warrior surprises and delights. One of the strongest entries is by Lesley McBain, who expertly weaves a circle of Irish Celtic magic around a refugee from the Holocaust. Each story is followed by a paragraph of biography for its author. Pierce energetically writes the introduction and Sherman offers a few historical bits about young warriors in the afterword. (Short stories/fantasy. 12+)Read full book review >
TRICKSTER’S QUEEN by Tamora Pierce
Released: Sept. 28, 2004

A mix of best and worst in this exciting but oddly paced conclusion to the Trickster duet. Several months have passed since the conclusion of Trickster's Choice (2003) and Alanna's daughter Aly has been training her network of raka rebels against their colonial luarin overlords. Now the Balitang family—Aly's former owners, current unwitting hosts to the rebellion's leaders, and home of two half-raka daughters prophesied to rule post-rebellion—has returned to the capital city. Aly must hold her simmering rebels in readiness, keep her identity secret, succeed at romance, and prevent an all-out bloodbath. Along the way, she plays nursemaid to Balitang daughters Dove and Sarai and a tense and dangerous city. Aly's cleverness and a god's help bring an idealized conclusion to the realistically complex colonial setting—if only it were so easy in the real world. Too rushed for satisfying depth (another volume would have helped develop the fascinating but shallow web of secondary characters), but Aly is easily among the most interesting of Pierce's heroines. Thrilling fun, despite its flaws. (Fantasy. 12-16)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 23, 2003

The new Tortall page-turner will delight existing fans and create many more. Alanna's daughter, Aly, is a rogue like her father, the former thief who's made legions of Pierce's girl fans swoon. At 16, Aly's an accomplished flirt—and brilliant at the intelligence work learned from her spymaster father. Her parents demand she pick any career but her beloved spying. After a fight with her mother—"try being the daughter of a legend"—Aly sails off in a snit, is captured by pirates, and sold as a slave in the Copper Isles. A bet with a local trickster god plunges her into a simmering race war, court intrigue surrounding a mad king, and a centuries-old conflict between gods. Winning will take all her diplomatic and spying talents. Unlike Pierce's earlier protagonists, Aly arrives fully formed, a snarky, talented uber-heroine. Cameos of old favorites complement a rich cast of new characters. Aly's difficulty with the complexity of colonialism adds surprising, welcome depth. A ripping good yarn that introduces a new series. (Fiction. 10-15)Read full book review >
SHATTERGLASS by Tamora Pierce
Released: April 1, 2003

Pierce continues her successful blend of high fantasy, grisly suspense, and wry social commentary in this conclusion to the second series starring her quartet of adolescent mages. With control over earthquakes, lightning, volcanoes, and tides, the plump bespectacled pepperpot Tris may be one of the most powerful mages in the world; but the 14-year-old's practical mind is more concerned about earning a living. A magical conference in exotic Tharios (which resembles a cross between the intellectual sophistication of Athens and the caste-ridden otherworldliness of India) seems a promising venue to learn some marketable magic. Instead, she bumps into Keth, a journeyman glassmaker, whose untrained powers over glass and lightning accidentally create a miniature living glass dragon, whom Tris delightedly adopts; less cheerfully, she takes on tutoring Keth in his dangerous magic, and he is equally reluctant to take lessons from a child years his junior. Meanwhile, Tharios is being stalked by a serial killer; and as the authorities worry more about avoiding ritual pollution than catching a murderer, Keth's magic just might supply the key to stopping his rampage. There really isn't much of a mystery here, since the eventual murderer turns out to be a total unknown, and the pace is too leisurely and repetitive to create much suspense. But Pierce (Lady Knight, 2002, etc.) more than makes up for these deficiencies with her appealing, well-rounded characters. Her fans will undoubtedly clamor for further updates on her likable young mages and their fascinating world. (Fiction. 11+)Read full book review >
LADY KNIGHT by Tamora Pierce
Released: Aug. 27, 2002

This fourth and final entry in the compelling Protector of the Small series finds 18-year-old Keladry of Mindelan (finally a full knight) handed a profound and confusing destiny by an immortal source. The Chamber of the Ordeal, a small room in which candidates for knighthood are tested, has ordered Kel to find and destroy the Nothing Man, a death mage using children's souls to fuel brutal killing machines. Meanwhile, however, her kingdom of Tortall is going to war, and Kel is required to serve alongside other knights and armies. Her assignment is to run a refugee camp near the warring border, a job which entails everything from military command of the camp to settling arguments between squabbling refugees. As the war rages on and Tortall begins to lose—largely because of the metal killing machines sent by the Nothing Man—Kel experiences an expertly written tension between her military assignment and her crucial, preordained task. But when her refugees are kidnapped by henchmen of the Nothing Man himself, Kel disobeys orders and risks execution in order to pursue her protectees into enemy territory and do what she does best: fight. Friends—human, dog, cat, horse, sparrow—offer the occasional tender moment and indispensable battle help. Appropriately larger in scope than the other volumes in this series and featuring vivid involvement with the young knight's dogged determination and physical feats, this gripping climax sees Kel fulfill her destiny and earn her legend-name. (Fantasy. YA)Read full book review >
COLD FIRE by Tamora Pierce
Released: May 1, 2001

Pierce turns somber in her saga of young mages-in-training (Street Magic, 2000, etc.), as the smith-mage Daja encounters a more sinister side to fire—and humanity. Daja accompanies her mentor Frostpine to the snowbound port of Kujisko to learn new skills, but herself becomes the teacher when she discovers the incipient magical talents of her hosts' twin daughters. She also finds a hero in Bennat Ladradun, who transformed his personal tragedy into a firefighting crusade. Daja lends her magic to his mission, rescuing victims from blazing holocausts, and crafting a pair of fireproof gloves. But when investigators suggest arson, she must confront the smoldering motivations that ignite to murder. Daja may have the least distinctive voice among Pierce's adolescent mages, but she more than compensates with the searing drama of her tale. While her efforts to train the mischievous twins offers some light relief, the overall tone is as dark as the northern setting. The devastation caused by the fires is described with graphic (though not gratuitous) intensity. When Pierce reveals that the obsessed Bennat is the arsonist, Daja's betrayal and disillusionment will be shared by readers, who have been accustomed of late to seeing firefighters in a heroic light. Yet Pierce also celebrates the virtues of control and craftsmanship, from the simple joy Daja finds in learning to skate to the blossoming of her pupils under hard work and discipline. An absolute must for fans of the series, the minimal backstory also makes this an exciting and thoughtful stand-alone fantasy. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
STREET MAGIC by Tamora Pierce
Released: April 1, 2001

Pierce (Magic Steps, 2000, etc.) continues to individually develop her quartet of adolescent mages. Former street rat Briar Moss, now 14 and a fully certified Mage, visits the distant city of Chammur with his mentor Rosethorn, in order to use their plant magic to replenish its depleted soil. While sightseeing, Briar discovers the homeless waif Evvy leaking stone magic. Reluctantly tutoring her in the control of her incipient powers, he becomes embroiled in a gang war, as the Vipers, prodded by a bored noblewoman, seek to profit by Evvy's talents. While retaining his most appealing traits—his affectionate bond with plant life, his jaundiced skepticism towards authority, and the prickly sarcasm disguising his deep love for his teacher and foster sisters—Briar also matures through the rewards and frustrations of teaching; and the threat to his protégé forces him to confront his romanticized ambivalence toward his own childhood gang. Strong-willed Evvy is a delightful addition to Pierce's mostly female cast, and the villainous Lady Zenadia oozes serpentine menace. Most fascinating is rose-red Chammur itself, with its timeworn stones, bustling bazaars, dusty rooftop roads, and cool, shaded palaces. Ancient, arid, elegant, sinister, sophisticated, weary, and cruel, Chammur drips with an exotic atmosphere clearly inspired by (if uncomfortably close to stereotyping) classical Arab culture. A must for Pierce's many fans, and a solid choice for those interested in a different take on gangs, faraway lands, or just good imaginative fantasy. (Fiction. 9-14)Read full book review >
MAGIC STEPS by Tamora Pierce
Released: March 1, 2000

In vibrant language and with great energy, Pierce spins out the story of Sandry (Circle of Magic, 1997) for the Circle Opens quartet. At 14, Lady Sandrilene—Sandry—has endured the loss of her family, danger, and tragedy, but she has mastered her magic, which she can spin and knot and weave like thread. She's staying with her great uncle, the Duke, trying to keep him from overwork after an illness, and cheering him with her spirit and sharp mind. She will exert both in the face of two events: a family of unscrupulous merchants is being slaughtered under the very noses of their protectors; and a local boy named Pasco is mightily resisting his own magic. Sandry must begin to teach Pasco, and does so by enlisting her own teacher and one of the most famous dancers of the realm. While there is darkness and violence, Sandry works with strength and confidence to overcome them, secure in the love of her uncle and her teachers. It ends well, and with the promise of more stirring tales to come. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
CIRCLE OF MAGIC by Tamora Pierce
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

In a fantasy set in mythical lands surrounding the Pebbled Sea, four young people come to terms with the pain that life has dealt them, the prejudices they've inherited, and the unrecognized magical powers they were born with. The four come from varying backgrounds, but all have been misfits rankling against the restrictions that class and culture impose. Sandry (Lady Sandrilene fa Toren) feels "Good f'r naught but to be waited on and to marry." She longs to be useful and competent. Daja, the Trader girl, wants to be a metalworker, but making things is forbidden to traders. Briar, a streetwise thief, harbors a special affinity for plants, and Trisana, the Merchant girl, seems to have a direct line to the forces of nature itself. Mage Niklaren Goldeye brings all four to a disciplined temple community where their special gifts can flower. Pierce (Wild Magic, 1992, etc.) employs the trappings of magic, yet never invokes it as a convenient plot device imposed from without. Instead it appears as an inner strength that each of the fully realized, compelling young protagonists must discover and harness. Meditation and the Zen-like practice of hands-on crafts are their tools of mastery. First in a series, this is a rich and satisfying read. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
WOLF-SPEAKER by Tamora Pierce
Released: April 1, 1994

Pierce continues the story of Daine and her mentor Numair (Wild Magic, 1992). Answering a call of distress from Daine's wolfpack, the two go to Dunlath Valley, where they find not only widespread destruction but a plot to overthrow the king. Once again, it's Daine's "wild magic''—her empathy with animals—that allows them to destroy a magical shield created by evil mages over the valley. Mysteries concerning Daine's father and a magical badger who visits her were introduced in the first book. This disappointing sequel does little to resolve them; in fact, aside from a conventional sword-and-sorcery good-guy/bad-guy tale, there's little here to move the plot along. Daine's conversations with wolves, mice, birds, and horses are unconvincingly sophisticated, while characters behave with as little logic as a TV cartoon. Fantasy fodder, but only for the famished. (Fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
WILD MAGIC by Tamora Pierce
Released: Oct. 30, 1992

Daine (13)—father unknown, mother killed by bandits—has "wild magic'': an empathy with animals so deep that, until she meets the wizard Numair, she's in danger of turning animal herself. Numair teaches her control just in time: something has freed the Immortals—dragons and griffins, who are not enemies; monstrous spidrons and Stormwings, who are and who have allied themselves with human marauders. When Numair's magic is nullified by other wizards, Daine's wild magic overcomes their enemies. Now she's free to find out who she is, why a badger visits her dreams, and who her father is. A feel-good epic—personable and sweet—in which animals are both buddies and supper. Despite the sitcom dialogue and characters like Lady Knight Alanna (she burps her babies with one hand, slays ogres with the other), Pierce makes both Daine and her quest likable. No doubt to be continued since, at the end, Daine is left with a baby dragon to raise. (Fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
LIONESS RAMPANT by Tamora Pierce
Released: Oct. 1, 1988

The conclusion of the saga of Alanna, warrior-magician. Previous volumes followed her from being a young girl—who disguised herself in order to receive training in arms—to becoming all accomplished warrior and the lover of both the heir to the throne and the chief of her kingdom's community of thieves. Here. Alanna sets off on a quest for the Jewel of Domaine, accompanied by her latest lover (just what does "rampant" mean?), the Shang warrior Liam. And find it she does, returning in time to save the kingdom and her mage-brother Thom from the evil Duke Roger—whom she kills for the second time. The kingdom in tatters but secure, Alanna decides on a life with George, the now-pardoned king of thieves. An extended superheroes comic, full of slam-bang action interposed with musings about the meaning of life. Justice and true love do conquer in the end, and certainly loose ends are neatly tucked away, but a little poetry and subtlety would have relieved the tedium. Nevertheless, some young readers will rejoice to have the tale rounded out. (Fantasy. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1986

Courage, skill, and magic are qualities that characterize 18-year-old Alanna in this third volume of the Song of the Lioness series. The tale (which can be enjoyed separately from the first two books) depicts Alanna's first year as a knight-errant for King Roald of Torvall, and combines the best charms of fantasy, adventure and romance. Alanna's adventures test not only her physical and spiritual qualities but her sense of identity and purpose. Alanna, her talking cat Faithful, her horse Moonlight, and teacher/ companion Coran meet the Bazhir desert tribesmen as the story begins. Finding themselves captive of the Bloody Hawk tribe, Alanna overcomes their leader's distrust through courage and luck. Alanna's defeat of the tribe's best fighter begins her exploits, which amaze and awe the Bazhirs. When she destroys her enemy, the tribe's evil holy man Ibn Nazzior, Alanna is asked to become their shaman. She challenges many of the tribe's customs and beliefs (especially those of sex roles) because of her independent action. As shaman, she trains two young outcast Bazhir women in their magical talents to become the first female tribal shamans. Alanna also fights the evil that enchants a crystal sword, which she won from a desert bandit in battle. The love Alanna feels for Prince Jonathon, who visits the tribe to learn its history, conflicts with her adventurous nature which craves action and recognition as a knight/soldier of the realm. Her attraction for George, the King of Thieves, brings her happiness, but another set of problems. Whom should she marry, Prince Jonathon or George? Alanna's world is a harsh one, but believable. Her uncertainties about her identity and her future are the ones that many young contemporary teens face. This fantasy provides food for introspection as well as flights of imagination into a magical kingdom. (Fantasy. 10-14)Read full book review >