Book Review

Tempests and Slaughter—Tamora Pierce

tempests and slaughter

Cover flap text: Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness—and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “left-over prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms.

As Arram’s education continues, he discovers a disturbing dark side of the Carthaki Empire—one that not even his powerful masters at the university can protect him from. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.


Numair is smart. Ozorne is too far down the line to ever possibly be emperor—oops, wait! Sebo hits a crocodile god and doesn’t get eaten. Lindhall’s love of animals is eternal. Varice just wants to make pretty things and live in Ozorne’s house.

working title

NUMAIR. Also, fuck Ozorne.

moisturize summarize me

Young Numair Arram Draper is attending the University at Carthak. He meets a young gladiator named Musenda after he falls into the gladiatorial arena, because of course that would happen to Numair Arram. After a brief oops in class, he comes to the attention of the Masters and is given specialized training as befits the future badass he is. He’s roomed with massive asshat Ozorne, who at this point is just an innocent spare heir and meets Varice, who just wants to make pretty things, but isn’t yet allowed to. As part of his training, Numair Arram “accidentally” meets the crocodile god Enzi, who “accidentally” borrows a bird that belongs to Mithros, and then decides that Numair Arram is just the person to take care of it while he finds a suitable gift when he returns the bird. Shenanigans ensue. Numair Arram doesn’t want to be a war mage. He wants to heal. He doesn’t want any dealings with gods. He briefly thinks he’s a tree. Shenanigans of a more deadly variety ensue. People are killed.

getting down to business [to defeat Ozorne twenty years later because, seriously, fuck Ozorne]

So. Ozorne. I’ve been waiting 24 years for this book (probably like… 19; I was 4 when Emperor Mage came out), and I come at it with a deep love for Emperor Mage and a deep, abiding hatred of Ozorne because… well, because Emperor Mage. Honestly, I don’t think that requires more explanation than I’ve given you. I can’t say Tempests and Slaughter gave me any less of a reason to hate him—we get him as Man Who Believes He’s God in Emperor, after all—but I’m more sympathetic to him as a child now than I was when I started.

Just to quote myself, because I was channeling my most true self when I wrote this: “Even Ozorne grew on me the way a particularly awful child grows on you and you want the best for them but you also want them kept far from power and maybe just give them some birds and a little farm for the rest of their life.”

But the conversation Ozorne has with Numair Arram at the end of chapter 19—where Ozorne details his plans for world domination, beginning either with Tortall or the Copper Isles—is chilling. And Numair Arram begins to get suspicious, but not suspicious enough. Literally, this man is going to be responsible for trying to kill you a couple times and trying to kill your future wife.

(Can I just talk for a second about Ozorne “I always wanted a Stormwing”? Because I think I hurt myself laughing.)

Now, I hate Varice. I have hated Varice since I read Emperor, and I realize this is not her fault. I saw her through the eyes of Daine who is also not an unbiased observer. This is not a rational hatred, but, oh boy, I hate her. I expect as this series continues, my hatred of her will diminish, especially if her parting with Numair Arram is in some way beneficial to him. In Tammy I trust.

Numair Arram Numair is one of my favorite male characters of all time and I am so excited to finally have his backstory. How did he get out of Carthak? Why did he have to leave Carthak? What exactly did he do to Ozorne? Why did he have to hide in Tortall? How did he get to Tortall? Why didn’t Varice go with him? Most importantly after reading Tempestshow did Ozorne not realize that he was killing Numair’s simulacrum after spending years learning how to make them with Numair?! That is what kills me. This man trained alongside Numair for years and suddenly he doesn’t realize that Numair (a black robe mage) is at least theoretically capable of doing this? Now, I know Numair explains it away as Ozorne not understanding that there are people more powerful than him but… ugh, Ozorne, stop. (Also, like, don’t stop. Things may have been different if you had realized Numair’s simulacrum wasn’t Numair.)

But I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of sadness for Numair every time he wants to be something other than what we know he ends up being. He doesn’t want to be a war mage (except, you know, when you’re that powerful are you going to not fight?); he wants to heal (well, he does that a little); he wants to be left alone (that just does not happen); he doesn’t want gods meddling in his life (oh, honey).

One last note: I spent the whole book terrified for Musenda. I knew he was going to die from the very beginning. I knew it. He was going to die heroically somehow—defending Numair Arram when he was working at the arena or… or something. Every time he was mentioned, I knew the next sentence would be “and then he died.” But it wasn’t! It wasn’t and he survived and he’s Sarge!

I was in public when I read the reveal, and I barely managed to keep control of myself while scrambling for my phone. I literally just typed “SARGE. FUCKING SARGE” with so much excitement that I spelled Sarge wrong. I was so excited for Sarge. And that Musenda survived. That Sarge is Musenda and Musenda is alive and everything is fine.

Tempests and Slaughter HUD


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