Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Will Of The Empress

By Tamora Pierce

Two years have passed since the Teenage Mages (masters of magic) Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar have been together. They've grown up - and grown apart.

The Empress blackmails Sandry into going back to her ancestral lands, and Sandry's uncle convinces the others to accompany her. But once there, the Empress turns out to have plans for all four of them and they're trapped.

The old friends have to find a way to overcome the distance between them and pull together in magic and friendship once more if they're going to escape.

And in this book, one of the three young women has a lesbian love!

While "The Will Of The Empress" has been written so it can certainly stand alone, it's actually the 9th in the series of books following these characters.

The "Circle Of Magic" books start things off with the four young mages coming together and learning about their magic powers in

Sandry's Book, Circle of Magic #1,

Tris's Book, Circle of Magic #2,

Daja's Book, Circle of Magic #3, and

Briar's Book, Circle of Magic #4.

Then the same characters' adventures continue in "The Circle Opens" series, where each of them go off abroad as certified mages and take on a new student in:

Magic Steps, The Circle Opens, Book 1,

Street Magic, The Circle Opens, Book 2,

Cold Fire, The Circle Opens, Book 3, and

Shatterglass, The Circle Opens, Book 4.

Tamora Pierce has an "official fansite" that's here.

And Tamora's wikipedia entry has a good list of the books in each series, and a useful overview of which of her series are part of which fantasy worlds she's created.

Add your review of "The Will Of The Empress" in comments!

ps: Thanks to blog reader (and Tamora Pierce reader) Jacob for the heads-up on the Lesbian character and content in "The Will Of The Empress!"


Poptart said...

There are a lot of negative opinions about how Pierce handled Daja's apparently sudden homosexuality. Many seem to think the idea warranted a more direct and perhaps realistic approach to the topic of gays in the Circle universe.

For me, what it comes down to is that this book is about friendships and the damage secrets between people can cause. In the end none of those secrets, including Daja's sexuality, matter. The four of them are friends because of their differences, not in spite of them.

On top of this, by not making a big deal out of Daja's sexuality, or the relationship between Rosethorn and Lark (two supporting cast members from the previous books), Pierce is allowing other things to drive the story. It is my opinion as a bisexual female that stories like this are what we need more of: gay or bisexual characters doing heroic things just like any straight character, not because they are gay or bi, but because they are heroes.

All of this being said, I recommend the Circle books for being imaginative and fun. All the characters have magical abilities surrounding less-miraculous things (Sandry's magic is from thread and sewing, Daja's from metalworking). The first four books are very "young," while the second four become more "teen." The Will of the Emperess is closer to an adult book, though only just barely.

Steph said...

I really like the way Tamora Pierce handled Daja's sexuality. I mean, I love gay characters, but sometimes it's like it's always "the gay character", or it's an angsty coming-out story where the audience knows they're gay. Whereas Daja is just Daja, until we find out she's a lesbian (or you know, whatever that smeerp word was because there is no island of Lesbos in the Circle world). Personally, I think eighteen years is a little long to figure that out; then again, that's how long I took. I feel a weird connection to these books, because they grew up with me. I was ten when I read the first series, in high school when I read the second, and my senior year I only read "The Will of the Empress" because I found out Daja came out as a lesbian in that one. Which was ironic because I didn't think I was gay at that point.

Which leads me into a side rant about why does every angsty teenage coming out story have to feature a love interest? I mean, besides the obvious, but my story didn't go like that; okay, there was a little, but it was mostly me realizing that my fetish for gay literature had a personal interest at heart.