Book Review: Tamora Pierce’s Shatterglass

Posted September 29, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Middle-Grade readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Tamora Pierce’s Shatterglass



Tamora Pierce

It is part of the , series and is a fantasy on March 1, 2003 and has 304 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Lioness Rampant, Wild Magic, Trickster's Choice, Trickster's Queen, Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage, Realms of the Gods, First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight, Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff, Daja's Book, Sandry's Book, Tris's Book, Briar's Book, Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire, The Will of the Empress, Melting Stones, Battle Magic

Fourth in The Circle Opens fantasy series for middle-grade readers (and eighth in the overall Emelan Universe) revolving around a circle of four friends. The focus in Shatterglass is on Tris and Keth Warder.

My Take

This is the conclusion for this second quartet of stories in the Emelan Universe. I’m hoping that the next, The Will of the Empress, finds the friends back together.

I’m with Tris. I don’t like these people with their obsession with cleansing and the untouchable. With torturing the prathmuni from the start. Their sense of equality is definitely skewed. And she gets her own revenge at the end…ROFLMAO…wait’ll you read that!

Tris certainly has a different take on government, decrying the “democracy” of Tharios in favor of one person being in charge. So everyone knows where to point the blame. Yeah, it’s still an idealistic viewpoint, but how wonderful if that were how it worked!

Dema gets his own street education when he discovers that all that studying to become a credentialed mage isn’t worth squat in the eyes of his coworkers and superiors. He carries his own prejudices with him; however, he’s intelligent enough to know when his city’s policies are wrong. He does try to get around them, and if it weren’t for Tris and Keth, his career and the reputation of his clan would have dropped like a stone. Yet another example of religion run amuck and paying no heed to the truth of the seed of their religious practices.

Those crazy cleansing-obsessed priests jump right in and cleanse everything: clues, traces of magic, everything that could help find the killer. I’d bet anything that if the giladha were being murdered, the Keepers would close the Khapik district in a heartbeat.

Tris has the same problems in Tharios that the other three have had with adults in their stories. No one wants to believe that such a little girl could have such power or be credentialed. Or if they do believe her, they’re intimidated. Keth is doubly handicapped. Tris has him terrified with her lightning, and she’s just a little girl. What could she possibly teach him?! It takes awhile, but Keth’s attitude will change.

Living in the Khapik district in a house populated with entertainers, Keth is emotionally involved in finding who is murdering the yaskedasi, and his new abilities cause him to appear involved. It will leave an even worse impression on Tris, who will insist on moving in to help care for Glaki, who reminds Tris too much of her own childhood.

This is a great story — well, hey, it is a Tamora Pierce! — and has good moral lessons for your kids.

The Story

Kethlun Warder was a gifted glassmaker until his world was shattered in a freak accident. Now his remaining glass-magic is mixed with lightning, and Tris must teach him to control it (if she can teach him to control his temper first).

But there’s more at stake than Keth’s education. With his strange magic, he creates glass balls which reflect the immediate past and expose the work of a murderer. If he can harness his power properly, he’ll be able to see the crimes as they take place.

It will be a race against time as Keth and Tris go up against the local authorities to identify a killer who is living in plain sight.

The Characters

Trisana “Tris” Chandler has a gift for weather, and an ability to direct the breezes which comes in handy in a hot climate. Those breezes also bring back snippets of conversation. Chime is the glass dragon with the lightning blood whom Kethlun blew to life. Little Bear is the big, shaggy, white dog the kids adopted and who has accompanied Tris on her travels. Her starling, Shriek, took off to join a flock of starlings. Great-uncle Murris is primarily in charge of the Chandler family natron imports.

Niklaren “Niko” Goldeye is the teacher who found them, a mage whose specialty is seeing magic and has credentials in glass magic, teaching magic, seer’s magic, and star magic. Dhasku Jumshida Dawnspeaker, First Scholar of Mages’ Hall and Second Scholar of Heskalifos, is their hostess in Tharios.

Kethlun Warder is a journeyman glassblower who had been caught in a freak accident during a thunderstorm. He has slowly been recovering from it, but the lightning strike jumpstarted some unexpected power — even as it left him with slow speech, a stammer, and a slight clumsiness. Before the storm, he had been a brilliant glassblower on the fast track. Now, he’s having to relearn what he used to know and do instinctively.

Keth lives at Ferouze’s Lodgings on Chamberpot Alley in Khapik and his housemates include Yali, who will take in Little Glakisa “Glaki” Irakory whose mother, Iralima, was murdered; Xantha a northern dancer; and, Poppy.

Antonou Tinas is a fourth cousin once removed who owns a glass shop in Tharios. He prefers to work on the finishing touches as he waits on customers, so he welcomes Keth into his shop to work. Keth’s homeland is Namorn (Daja’s story, Cold Fire, 3 (7), took place in Namorn), and Guildmistress Hafgwyn suggested he explore outside Namorn and learn new techniques.

Tharios is…
…the city, renowned for its glassmakers, Tris and Niko are visiting, partly for the glass and partly for the symposium on vision magics. Heskalifos is its university. Here people wear a stole the color of their profession: mages wear blue, shopkeepers green, priests red. Noskemiou is the city’s hospital for the poor; Thanas is the wing for the dead. The Keepers rule the city from Serenity House.

It’s also a city obsessed with cleanliness after a disastrous experience during the fall of the Kurchal Empire. The priests of the All-Seeing are quite industrious. Aethra Papufos is the high priestess of the All-Seeing. University mages who work in glass include Vishaneh Amberglass, Dhaskoi Rainspinner, and Jumshida.

Dema Nomasdina is a new investigator mage, an arurium dhaskoi, assigned to the Fifth District at the Elya Street aururimat for law enforcement. Brosdes and Magnuna are two of the arurimi, policemen.

The victims, so far, wear the yellow veil of the yaskedasi, the licensed entertainers in Khapik: Nioki was a tumbler, Farray a dancer, Ophelika a musician, Stenatia a courtyard yaskedasu, and Zudana a singer besides the two from Ferouze’s.

The Ghost is what the poor of the city call the murderer.

Prathmuni are the invisible ones. Despised for handling the bodies of the dead and night soil. If a giladha, a visible person, someone who counts, sees a shenos, a foreigner(s), speaking to a prathmun, the shenos must be ritually cleansed while the prathmun will be whipped. Deiina is the patron goddess of Khapik, the entertainment district. Baoya the Golden is the Queen of Khapik, a dancer.

Ambient magic is the magic inherent in all things around us. It’s not a common sort of magic at all and very difficult to test. A dhasku is a female mage. A koris is a male mage. Lark is a thread mage in Winding Circle Temple and one of Tris’ foster mothers.

The Cover and Title

The cover is so very Tris with her so-very-intricate pattern of braids, her glasses, and her lilac gown with a teal sash, standing in profile but with her head turned to Chime, a glass dragon. Her right arm is upraised with a dish of colorful lightning lighting up her fingers against a backdrop of a golden wall of shelves filled with a variety of blown glassware in muted pastels, the wall punctuated by a beautiful, arched, stained glass window.

The title is what Keth does, Shatterglass, as he doesn’t understand that he even has magic.