Imagine if you will, a low-peril version of Harry Potter. That is Tamora Pierce‘s Tempests and Slaughter (review copy from Harper Voyager). This is a middle-grade story following three young friends at Carthak’s university for magicians. Arram Draper is young and powerful, but lacks control over his magic. He is fiercely intelligent, but naive and from a distant island. Varice is a young woman with a bit more knowledge of how the world works. Ozorne is a spare heir of the Emperor, being trained in war magic. I understand that these are characters that play a significant part in the author’s other novels. But as someone who hasn’t read any of the other books the beats here are predictable – Arram and Varice will end up together, and Ozorne will end up as Emperor.
The book follows the schooling of this trio. There are lots of details of their lessons (Arram’s timetable for each term is set out in painstaking detail) and trips out, and some rivalries and fallings out with fellow students. But it’s all pretty … bland. All the teachers are sympathetic, including the grumpy ones. There is little sense of peril or conflict in the book. Even the ending was underwhelming, and I was left surprised that the book had finished. Surely there was meant to be something more climactic.
Underwhelming, inoffensive fluff.
Goodreads rating: 2*