I kept going on my chronological listening to Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books. To sum up:
- The Beka Cooper series – Loved it!
- The Song of the Lioness series – Eh, entertained me but problematic if you think too much about it
“Young Daine’s knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine’s talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical. Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.”
You know I got excited when I read that description. I loved Daine and her ability to talk to animals. I loved her pony Cloud who in the way of mares everywhere knows best about everything and isn’t shy about giving her opinion.
This book takes place a few years about the Song of the Lioness series and the characters from that series are also in this one. Now you are seeing them as adults through the eyes of a teenager. This teenager doesn’t think that she is special though. That makes her much more interesting to me.
“When humans start cutting down trees and digging holes in peaceful Dunlath Valley, the wolves know that something is wrong. They send a messenger to the only human who will listen — Daine, a fourteen-year-old girl with the unpredictable power of wild magic. Daine and her closest companions heed the wolves’ cry for help. But the challenge they are about to face in the valley is greater than they can possibly imagine…”
This was an interesting premise. Daine and her magic teacher are sent to answer a summons from a wolf pack that Daine knew as a child. There are bad humans and now monsters in the valley and the wolves want it stopped. For most of the book Daine is trapped alone in the valley with the wolves, her horse, a baby dragon, and monsters. The big message of this book is to look past surface appearances and see the person or monster underneath.
“Sent to Carthak as part of the Tortallan peace delegation, Daine finds herself in the middle of a sticky political situation. She doesn’t like the Carthaki practice of keeping slaves, but it’s not her place to say anything — she’s just there to heal the emperor’s birds. It’s extremely frustrating! What’s more, her power has grown in a mysterious way.
As the peace talks stall, Daine puzzles over Carthak’s two-faced Emperor Ozorne. How can he be so caring with his birds and so cruel to his people? Daine is sure he’s planning something. Daine must fight the powerful Emperor Mage, knowing that the safety and peace of the realm depend on stopping Ozorne’s power-hungry schemes.”
Life would be so much easier if Gods weren’t so cryptic and just said what they meant. That’s what I took from this one. I like the growth of Daine’s character over the series. She’s finding out more about her powers and about her history.
For the series so far I would rate it:
And then this happened:
“During a dire battle against the fearsome Skinners, Daine and her mage teacher Numair are swept into the Divine Realms. Though happy to be alive, they are not where they want to be. They are desperately needed back home, where their old enemy, Ozorne, and his army of strange creatures are waging war against Tortall.
Trapped in the mystical realms Daine discovers her mysterious parentage. And as these secrets of her past are revealed so is the treacherous way back to Tortall. So they embark on an extraordinary journey home, where the fate of all Tortall rests with Daine and her wild magic.”
The story isn’t bad. My issue with this book is the relationship that Daine enters into. I don’t think I’ve ever actually physically recoiled so much as when listening to this book. Every time there was description of passionate kissing I was yelling, “Ew, ew, ew” in my car and wishing I could fast forward. She’s 16 and the man is almost twice her age. He’s a powerful figure in her life. She pretty much hasn’t ever spent any time with any males around her age. She’s been isolated for most of her time in the books. He acknowledges once that this sets up a potentially abusive power dynamic in the relationship but that concern is ignored.
There is an interview at the end of this audio with the author who says that she tried to lessen his power over Daine so the relationship didn’t come off as so icky. Didn’t work for me.
Overall, I loved the series with the exception of the relationship in the last book. The audio production was Full Cast again and I used to Tamora Pierce’s weird phrasing now as the narrator.
I do have one overarching question this series though.
There are monsters called Stormwings. They have human heads and torsos with bird wings and legs. Their feathers have razor edges. They are described as having hair with bones braided in. They are fairly antisocial and live only with other Stormwings.