Book Review: Tamora Pierce’s Melting Stones

Posted November 10, 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 Melting Stones

Melting Stones


Tamora Pierce

It is part of the , series and is a fantasy in eBook edition that was published by Scholastic on February 1, 2010 and has 322 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, Shatterglass, The Will of the Empress, Battle Magic

Second in The Circle Reforged subseries and tenth in the overall Emelan universe in the fantasy series for middle-grade readers and revolving around four very young mages in magic. The focus here is on the former student of one of those mages, Evvy. It’s been four years since Evvy arrived in Winding Circle, and it’s taking place at the same time as The Will of the Empress, 1 (9). If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Emelan books on my website.

My Take

What I loved about Melting Stones was the fantastical idea Pierce used for explaining how volcanoes formed. Using Flare and Carnelian’s actions to explain the earth tremors was brilliant. It was a nice blend of science and Pierce’s own magical world of Emelan. It also helps to showcase how thoughtlessly impulsive Evvy is.

Yep, Evvy is what I hated about Melting Stones. She is so obnoxious and bratty. Considering her beginnings as a slave and then a street rat, she is amazingly unthinking of consequences. Oh, her intentions are good, but she is too impulsive. To be honest, she acts more like an eight-year-old.

It is fun to see Myrrhtide evolve from the rude, fussy, disbelieving, envious mage to a more understanding one.

“Oswin sounded very innocent in the dark. ‘Azaze gives a decent meal to almost everyone.'”

What is making me nuts is that whole Gyongxe business. Pierce kept referring to it in The Will of the Empress and now in Melting Stones, and I feel as though I’ve missed an entire book!!

It’s rather fun getting Luvo’s take on this outside world. After two years, he still loves watching “the glory of the dawn”. Makes me think of how much I take for granted.

There’s a important lesson in this for Evvy, and it’s laid out by Rosethorn when she explains about the two classes of people: the destroyers, and the builders. Another lesson is that mages learn from their mistakes.

The Story

At fourteen and unable to hold back her temper, Evvy is on a punishment voyage 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.

It turns out to be lucky for Starns and everyone else that Evvy is along. It’s her gift for stone magic that helps Evvy uncover the truth. Now, with the island on the brink of disaster, it’s up to Evvy to avert the destruction that looms ahead.

The Characters

Evumeimei “Evvy” Dingzai is the stone mage Briar found in Street Magic, 2 (6). Luvo is a volcano god who has manifested himself as an eighteen-inch tall deep green and purple clear crystal bear. He encountered Evvy on the Gyongxe trip when she approached his home in the Heaven Wind Mountains of southern Yanjing.

Dedicate Rosethorn, a great mage whose gift is with plants, is one of Evvy’s guardians at Winding Circle. The other is Dedicate Lark whose gift is with weaving. They all live at Discipline Cottage. Dedicate Fusspot, oops, I mean, Dedicate Myrrhtide is a water mage whose assistance will be needed on Starns. Briar Moss is one of the four young people who are now great mages.

Moharrin on Starns is…
…a small village on one of the Battle Islands. Sustree is the port at which the Winding Circle trio land. Oswin Forest is their escort and a man of all talents. He’s also a kind man for he has taken in all the pirate orphans including Treak who wreaks havoc, Nory who keeps house and order, Mereyem is one of the cheeky young ones, Lexa, Natan, Jesy who needs special glasses, and Deva. Jayatin “Jayat” Holly is apprenticed to Tahar Catwalker, the village’s mage and healer. Spark is the horse that Evvy rides.

Azaze Yopali is the headwoman of the village and runs the inn. Some of her employees include Firouze and Mila. Other people of importance in the village include Master Smith, the Master Herder, and the master miner. Dubyine and Karove are part of a small, greedy group. Squeak has kittens.

Mount Grace is…
…a mountain on Starns where the fire spirits live in a pool of flame. Flare and Carnelian are two of the flame spirits, the children of the pool, who first encounter Evvy.

Levit, Margret, Lore, Karl, Sotat, and Sustree are some of the other Battle Islands. Heibei is the god of luck whom Evvy frequently calls upon.

The Cover and Title

The cover is not so much dull as drab. I’m guessing it’s to reflect the state of the island with that volcano about to burst. It’s Evvy in her deep purple kerchief with strands of black hair escaping, the deep purple strap of her bag over one shoulder, and she stands in her black dress, facing an acid pool, dying grasses, and dead branches under a murky green sky.

The title is what Evvy encounters, the Melting Stones so eager to to find escape.