Book Review: Tamora Pierce’s Battle Magic

Posted October 28, 2017 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 Battle Magic

Battle Magic


Tamora Pierce

It is part of the , series and is a action & adventure, fantasy in Hardcover edition on September 24, 2013 and has 440 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
(This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.)

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, Melting Stones

First in The Circle Reforged subseries and ninth in the overall Emelan fantasy series for middle-grade readers and generally revolving around four young people who gained their magic medallions very young. The focus in Battle Magic is on Briar Moss, his student Evvy, and Dedicate Rosethorn.

If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Emelan books on my website.

A few cautionary notes. Evvy is captured, stripped naked, and tortured. She’s also very clever at avoiding answering and in how she escapes. It’s not nice, though, in any way. There is a lot of death as a result of battle, but nothing gory during battle.

My Take

I do NOT know what is or was going on when the numbering for The Circle Reforged was going on, but THIS is the story in which Evvy meets Luvo. The Will of the Empress, 2 (10), and Melting Stones, 3 (11) follow AFTER Battle Magic.

I’m rather confused about Parahan’s situation. Oh, it’s obvious enough that he’s been sold into slavery, but his father is the king and still alive. How could his uncle have gotten away with this? Another thing I’m confused about is the emperor locking up all other religious orders. If he is locking them down, why did he let Rosethorn go? I’m also questioning a comment Luvo makes about Fort Sambachu in which he says that the “land and its guardians do not care for … those who would bring good things here.” I can understand their not liking intruders who would damage and kill, but they don’t want good things either?

This emperor is such a spoiled brat!! Someone needed to spank him early and often. Too bad they didn’t. That incident with the rosebush. What he did to the gardeners!?? The way he’s treating Parahan? What kind of an idiot is he? I find that I’m hoping Briar and Rosethorn left a latent spell on that Weishu Rose to spout poison at the idiot.

There are a lot of lessons in this: go with the flow, as Evvy and Briar try to tell the emperor’s mages; respect other people, their beliefs and ways of thinking, and their religions; don’t be greedy; place plants where they will thrive; don’t judge a book by its cover; don’t get cocky and think yours is the only way; and, more. Evvy has her own lessons she learns. Some are good, others are simply lessons she takes to heart. The one in which she compares her “awful” life to that of the God-King is very eye-opening.

What was with that stupid mage? If he could detect Evvy doing magic, shouldn’t he have been able to see that she is reinforcing the fort’s walls?

Ooh, sneaky! Evvy, Rosethorn, and Briar have been using the cats to distract guards and soldiers, lol. I’m thinking the painted gods are Gyongxe’s way of distracting people too. They are so funny, and the kids will probably get a kick out of how naughty they are.

Hmmm, turns out those border paintings of gods are actually portals to their homes.

I do have to laugh. Those prideful mages at the emperor’s court who thought they were all that. Who put down Briar and Evvy for their “so-called magic”. They were the ones who forced the magic to go against its containers, itself, while Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn work with it. Yep, they go with that flow.

I think Parahan will miss Rosethorn very much.

The Story

While visiting the God-King and the First Circle temple in Gyongxe, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy are invited to visit the emperor’s summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxe, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion.

As the three mages rush to Gyongxe to warn its citizens of the impending attack, they meet up with the prize captive who escaped the emperor, and with the Imperials hot on their trail, he, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle.

But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the Imperial Army and win the war?

The Characters

Briar Moss is a sixteen-year-old plant mage and former street rat, now a fully accredited mage of the Living Circle school. Evumeimei “Evvy” Dingzai is his student, a stone mage, and a former slave. She goes everywhere with her seven cats: Monster, Mystery, Asa, Apricot, Raisin, Ball, and Ria. Dedicate Initiate Rosethorn (her birth name was Nivalin Greenhow) is another plant mage and has been their mentor. All three work with ambient magic.

Gyongxe is…

…a country poor in land and very rich in spiritual closeness to the gods. Garmashing is its capital city. This two hundred and ninety-eighth God-King is an eleven-year-old boy who is very wise. First Dedicate Jangbu Dokyi, a stone mage, is the head of both the Gyongxe’s Living Circle Temple, and ALL Living Circle Temples. Rosethorn’s vows are to the Living Circle Temple. General Sayrugo leads the God-King’s armies. Zochen Brul is a baby cave snake.

Assorted shamans from different tribes appear throughout, including the Skipping Mountain Goat Tribe; Servant Riverdancer plays a big part.

The Drimbakang mountain ranges are…
…the husbands of La Ni Ma, the sun goddess. Snow King, Ganas Rigyal Po, is the east mountain; Talking Snow Mountain King, Kangri Skad Po, is the one in the middle; and, Snow Leopard King, Ganas Gazing Rigyal Po, is the west one.

Luvo is the 18″ fluorite “bear” who saved Evvy. He is the heart of the mountain called Kangri Skad Po, a.k.a., Talking Snow Mountain King. He’s absolutely fascinated by this little creature who is part meat and part mountain. Each time he speaks with her, she presents a new idea or problem to a being who has seen nothing new in ages. And he does mean ages. Diban Kangmo is a six-foot peak spider goddess; her daughter healed Evvy’s feet. Big Milk is a queen yak.

Parahan’s twin sister, Princess Soudamini, is a general and managed to escape the uncle, I think. Jimut will be assigned as Briar’s orderly. Some of the captains include Lango and Jha. Atori is an archer. Glacier Cracks is a western chief.

Fort Sambachu is…
…the border fort where Captain Rana escorts Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy. And where they split up. Sergeant Kanbab is part of Rana’s company.

Musheng and Dawei are two of the Yanjingly soldiers who torture Evvy.

The Temple of the Sealed Eye is…
…the only temple that can hide the four sacred Treasures of the Living Circle. Yesh Namka is the High Priest. Tegene Kess is the warden of the gate.

The Temple of the Tigers is…
…guarded by a pair of tiger statues, orange and white. I love these guys, lol. Melanoma is a four-headed god (who has a green bum with four cheeks!?!).

Countries close to Gyongxe include Inxia and Qayan.

Yanjing is…

…where Emperor Weishu Maorin Guangong Zhian, sixth of the Long Dynasty, rules and plots to take over as many other countries as possible to plunder and loot. His gardens are famous throughout the world and Rosethorn would love to see them. General Fenqi Hengkai is a Great Mage and the Commander of the Imperial Armies. Jia Jui is one of the imperial mages and is very friendly. In the Winter Palace. The Mistress of Protocol has become a secret ally. I think the Magistrates of the Vigilant Eyes are the emperor’s police. The only truly allowed religions are Yanjing: Kanzan, the goddess of mercy and healing, and Tuyan, the god who was heaven itself.

The emperor is quite confident when he appoints General Jin Quan in command of the Imperial Army of South Gyongxe.

Prince Parahan of Kombanpur is the latest imperial amusement whom the emperor keeps in chains during the day and chained in a cage at night.

Changdao is the master of the caravansary. The Trader caravan Rosethorn and company will join to escape Yanjing is led by Rajoni, ride leader of the Twenty-eighth Caravan Datta. Nisha is her mother. Grandmother is the one who thinks of the cats needing a disguise.

Back home in Emelan…
Duke Vedris rules, and the trio will learn to appreciate what an amazing leader he is. Winding Circle is there as well, where Briar learned to use his mage powers, and where Rosethorn lives with Lark in Discipline Cottage.

Nanshur and prebu are words for mage. Tiyon is a common language most people can speak. Zayao is what Briar and friends refer to as “boom dust”, a.k.a., gun powder. Sky burial is leaving the bodies open to the air. Mila and the Green Man are the gods Rosethorn calls on most often.

The Cover and Title

The cover is DARK, though not as dark as the tunnels Evvy traverses! Instead it’s a deep brown with roots and vines of golden browns and blacks arching to create the impression of tunnels. An ancient and short blade stands upright in the middle and is encased in a swirling red foil grape vine representing plants and stones.

The title is what is needed, Battle Magic to save Gyongxe, to save themselves.