Review of Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce. Tempests and Slaughter is the first book in the The Numair Chronicles duology set in Pierce’s Tortall universe. Numair is a beloved character from the Wild Magic series who has gotten his own prequel series as a spinoff.
I am writing this review to try to manifest book two. I has been years, I want the second book! I know it is being edited right now. Can we at least get a release date?
My review of Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
Tempests and Slaughter is a mix of magical boarding school slice of life and very high drama. Tempests and Slaughter examines how a slave society functions and question it. It explores the social isolation of gifted children as well as friendship. It also explores themes of ambition, power and slavery.
I did not want the book to stop. I really enjoyed the book and it really makes me want to read the next book set in the country – that would be the last of the Immortals series.
Title: Tempests and Slaughter
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Numair Chronicles
Genre: Fantasy, magic school, young adult
Themes: Magic school, friendship, slavery, medical magic, social isolation, gifted kid, ambition and power
“Arram Draper hung on the rail of the great arena, hoisting himself until his belly was bent over the polished stone.”
Who is Numair Salmalín
Numair Salmalín was born Arram Draper in Tyran to merchant parents, who send him off to the University of Carthak. He is brown boy in a country where that is the norm.
When he becomes a black mage (high rank) he changes his name from Arram Draper to Numair Salmalín to help him hide from powerful enemies.
Magical boarding school
You know I love a magical boarding school in so many forms. And Tempests and Slaughter delivers on the school vibes in spades. There are many slice of life scenes form the school life, but it is not all hanging out in the library with friends. The students faces challenges, but not world shattering ones. We got a lot of everyday school scenes as well as the big drama scenes.
Teenagers being teenagers
Tempests and Slaughter deals frankly with the love life of teenagers. They do not have just one partner that they love very much and stay with for the rest of their life, as so much teen fiction will have you believe. Rather they are all allowed to have a number of romantic partners – there is no drama and no judgement in it. The boys have a very awkward conversation about morning wood and changing bodies. Which is the first I have ever read seen from a boy’s perspective. So even if it is not that well done, I appreciate that it is there.
The threat of of the chosen one trope
Arram has a significant magical talent, which is why he is off to university this young. This does mean that the book is flirting with the chosen one trope. There is however not prophecy and his oversized talents does get him into a lot of problems.
Arram is send off to university when he is only around ten, which means that he has to navigate a setting where everyone else has way more life experience then him and that does mean that he is socially isolated. His advanged powers also means that he is constantly treated as special by the adults, making it harder for him to make friends and form a peer group. He face powerful people wanting to recruit him for their own schemes and they try to manipulate him in quite unpleasant ways. His success never feels inevitable even though the book is a prequel and we know where he ends up.
Prince Ozorne befriends Arram and their is a significant plot point and is explored throughout Tempests and Slaughter.
Slavery and gladiators
This is very much a book that take a long hard look at slavery – without being graphic and falling into misery porn. Numair struggles morally with living in a slave society as he grew up in a non-slave society. The Carthak society also hosts Roman style human blood sport, aka arena fighting, with slaves. The gladiatorial fights and the violence of it is shown quite graphicly. The gladiators and their stories are a big part of the book. Tempest and Slaughter shows just how nasty that idea is. The name of the book is foreshadowing the later half of the book, that isn’t a all fluffy slice of life boarding school story.
Tempest and Slaughter has some some neat cameos and foreshadowing of events in the later books. I don’t think one would notice, if one had not read any other book. I can very much be read by it self. A little fan service goes a long way.
Hmm I might be talking myself into giving Tempests and Slaughter an extra star and not punishing the book for me reading it too late at night and being really sleepy a lot of the time I was reading. Writing this in 2023 I want to reread it. I really hope we get book two next year.
The stats: Tempests and Slaughter
Published: 2018 by Random House
Length: 432 pages
Read: February 5 -15 2018
Author: Female, white, USA
The protagonists: Numair Salmalín aka Arram Draper, male, PoC, straight, wizard student
This review was originally posted: February 15 2018. Updated and edited July 3, 2023