My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Man this book took me forever to get through! It took me over a month, and I feel like that is most likely because sections of the book dragged on and just went so slowly. It felt like there was a lot of unnecessary information given, although I know most of the actual events will probably become important in the next book in the series.
With all that being said, I do really love Tamora Pierce’s writing style and the world that she has created. Her Immortals series starting with Wild Magic was one of my favorite series growing up, and all three main characters from this series are in that one as well, although they are children in school in this book. I was extremely interested in seeing how they all ended up where they were at in the other series so that was something that I was really looking forward to with this book. Of course, because this is the first book in a new series, we don’t really get much in the way of that.
I do feel a little more sympathetic towards Ozorne now, but I still can’t stand him but maybe that’s because I know how he turns out as an adult! Arram is of course still my absolute favorite, he has such a good heart and really cares about other people, which really comes through when he has to work with the gladiators/slaves, and when he has conversations about slavery with his friends. I also liked seeing Tristan and Gisa in this book as well, I wasn’t expecting them to make an appearance here.
This follows Arram in his day to day life at his magic school, and focused a lot on their character development instead of the plot. That isn’t a bad thing, because I do love these characters and it was really great seeing them grow up, but I don’t think that we needed to see every single conversation that the characters had about their bodies changing as they grew up. I know it’s something that isn’t seen in a lot of YA/middle grade books and it’s fantastic that we are starting to see people talk about puberty and what happens, but in the context of this book I don’t really think we needed that.
Trying to rate this is actually really difficult for me, because I love this world and everything but I ended up going with 3 stars because I feel like some things could’ve been cut from the book and it could’ve been at least a hundred pages shorter, but it was still really enjoyable. I really wanted this to be a 5 star read for me, but sadly it just wasn’t. I did enjoy the book and I hope to continue on with the series because I do feel an attachment to these characters!