Friday, August 23, 2013
So once upon a time, in roughly 2005, I read The Will of the Empress; the first book in this series.
Wait, let me back up.
I've been a long time fan of Tamora Pierce. HUGE FAN. Like, almost didn't go to a final exam in college to go to a nearby book signing. (I went to the exam because responsibility, but seriously, WHOA.) I loved the Alanna series, I loved the Protector of the Small series, I loved the Trickster's duology (or whatever you want to call it), I loved the Circle of Magic series and kind of even liked the Circle Opens series. I liked the Wild Magic series.
Then Beka Cooper happened, it was written in diary format, and I simply can't stand reading books written in diary format. No matter what, you will never convince me that whatever character is writing will remember exactly, precisely, word for word what was said in conversation. Ever. It drives me bonkers the implausibility that a diary can record the impeccable truth of the situation. If it does, it clearly isn't written in the quality of the narrator's voice, AND OH MY BATMAN I JUST HATE DIARY FORMAT. There are only a few books I've ever completed reading that were in diary format. There's just so much wrong with how it is normally utilized.
So I skipped the whole Beka Cooper thing.
Then I missed Melting Stones when it was initially published.
But I've read it now. Aren't you glad I overshare sometimes and not all the time? Eh?
A book summary so you can get a guess at where I'll be going with this, "Bestselling author Tamora Pierce returns to the world of the Circle Opens quartet. This time, Evvy, a street urchin turned stone mage, must save an island nation. Now available in paperback!
Four years have passed since Evvy left the streets of Chammur to begin her training as a stone mage. At fourteen, she's unhappy to be on a new journey with her mentor, prickly green mage Rosethorn, who has been called to the Battle Islands to determine why the plants and animals there are dying. Evvy's job is to listen and learn, but she can't keep quiet and do nothing. With the help of Luvo, the living stone heart of a mountain, Evvy uncovers an important clue. Now, with the island on the brink of disaster, it's up to Evvy to avert the destruction that looms ahead." AMAZON LINK OF IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE
Again, it's been a LONG time since I read The Will of the Empress, however, I have some sort of faith in myself that I'll remember or be able to piece together enough details to just power through Melting Stones.
It was more challenging than I expected, especially considering the third book (Battle Magic) in the series chronologically happens before the second book (Melting Stones). Also, The Will of the Empress is apparently chronologically after Melting Stones, so I suppose the whole series is just chronologically backwards. Gross.
The first surprise with this book was the character of Master Luvo. I wracked my brain trying to figure out when Evvy, Briar, and Rosethorn were all involved in some war that they got Master Luvo through.
Did I mention that Master Luvo is the heart of a mountain that looks like a small weathered bear rock and usually weighs at least fifty pounds? He walks, talks, and does magic. There were a lot of details about his character that were given with the attitude of, "Remember this? Pssh, you totally should". Yet, Master Luvo didn't chronologically exist until Battle Magic.
What the heck.
I managed to plow through Melting Stones in the fevered attempt to just plunge into Battle Magic which I was hoping would be a better book. That was my motivation.
Let me break the book down before I get distracted again by something else that irks me.
Essentially, Evvy, Rosethorn, Master Luvo, and Fusspot (his real name escapes me (Evvy dubbed him Fusspot), a water mage from Winding Circle) have traveled to an island to investigate the mysterious poisons that are appearing seemingly at random across the land. While Evvy is there, she falls in love with all sorts of different rocks and gets to learn a lot more about the Earth through Luvo and her wanderings of the island.
The book is narrated by Evvy.
Who is plagued by memories of war (by plagued, I mean briefly remembers moments from the war and then moves on with a shudder sort of deal), and doesn't quite act her age at any point. I'm not quite certain of her age but I'm going to chalk it up to my bad memory as I think it was mentioned somewhere in there.
Who is also magic crazy on the island since a lot of Earth magic stirs in the lava/magma that is closer to the surface than it normally is on continents.
...you know, I just didn't care for it. I treated Melting Stones as an ends to a mean to get to Battle Magic.
I was at a complete loss with the memories of the characters and their time at war, I was at a complete loss for Master Luvo because I KNOW I would remember a talking rock mountain heart bear thing, and Evvy's voice wasn't compelling to me since she still struggled with a lot of basic human interactions situations even though she was a 'street rat'. I would assume that as a 'street rat' she would be used to reading situations and handling people (as Briar does), but the book conveys her as a willful, clumsy oaf of sorts that constantly has to be reprimanded. It was pretty disorienting for me.
Regardless, the story came across as weak to me since some of the instances of character growth were based on things that happened in a war that I had not yet read about.
It was kind of a miffing experience.
I guess with this one, I think some diehard fans could plow through it, but I don't think I'll be returning to it.
I was pretty disappointed, yet I'm not entirely what I should have expected from a book about Evvy. I also question the use of Evvy as the narrator, why not Rosethorn? It kind of makes me wonder if I have outgrown Tamora Pierce (a very shuddering thought). Then I reread bits and pieces of the Alanna series, Protector of the Small, and the Trickster's duology and knew I was still in love with the world.
...I should stop. I'm getting rambling. Oh the rambling.