Blog Tour: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (Review & Aesthetics)

“There was always someone with more power.”

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy 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 danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Tempest and Slaughter is a new prequel series from the legendary fantasy writer, Tamora Pierce, that tells the early years of one of the greatest mages of Tortall, Arram Draper or most know from other Tortall books as Numair Salmalin.

Arram Draper is a talented young mage. At the age of ten he went to studies magic at the Imperial University of Carthak. Arram loves to learn new skills and he excel in his studies. When he accidentally flood his classroom during one of his lectures, Arram was given an advanced classes instead of suspension. At a young age his masters saw the great mage that he is. From then on, Arram honed his natural talent in magic, learning from the university masters. Being the only kid in higher classes is not easy for Arram, but he eventually found his closest friends with Verice and the young Prince, Ozorne. The three of them become inseparable since then. Together they start to carve their paths in the world of magic and politics.

“Learn it now or learn it later,..But a wise man does learn it.”

It’s been a while since I last read a novel from Tamora Pierce, and I am gladly surprised that she is finally writing from a point of view of a male character in Tempest and Slaughter. To those who haven’t read Tamora’s other fantasy series, Tamora is known for her kick-ass heroines. She always created a champion in them. Girls who are not only feminine but also warriors. I drew inspirations from her characters and from her as an author. Her books shows girl-power and a lot more. Her male characters, though not the main narrators are also well crafted, and to have one of them tell a new story in this latest fantasy novel, Tempest and Slaughter is surely a welcome experience for Tamora Pierce’s followers like me.

Tempest and Slaughter is a character driven novel which may easily feel dragging, especially to readers who are not yet familiar with the Tortall realm. But if you fall into that category, I dare you to continue reading, because not only Arram is really an interesting character but also Tamora Pierce offer a wonderful world of magic and myth in Tempest and Slaughter. Even if you haven’t read her other fantasy books, there are many things to love and to enjoy in this first instalment of a new prequel series from Tamora Pierce.

“If a little power doesn’t do what you want, think of something else before you try using a lot of it.”

Arram’s character development is interesting to follow. From his inner struggles to fit-in with his classmates, the challenges he encounter in learning more about magic, and using what he learned to help people around him. His inner thoughts shows his true character, like how he questioned the life around him, the slavery, and role of mages in politics. He maybe young but he is learning not only about magic but also other important things around him. I look forward reading how he transformed from Arram Draper to the powerful Numair Salmalin in the future.

Tamora Pierce also introduced a rich mythology in this book. The presence of Gods in different forms, like Enzi, the crocodile god of Zekoi, and other powerful beings that shows their interest to Arram are all wonderful addition to the story. Even if you haven’t read the other books of the Tortall world, Tempest and Slaugther will give you enough background to fully grasp the fantasy world of mages.

Overall, followers of Tamora Pierce will surely love this new addition to the world of Tortall, as they read new things about the familiar character, Numair Salmalin. It’s like rediscovering the greatest mage and loving him more than we never thought is possible.

It’s really an interesting read to discover the beginning of many familiar characters in this book. I am looking forward to see more about Arram and his friends, Verice and Ozrone as well as the other mages in the next book of Numair Chronicles.

* This review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher, Penguin Random House International.


Here are some aesthetics for Tempest and Slaughter to entice you more into reading the book.

@credit to owners / artists

Ruined by Amy Tintera


“Make people fear you… Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do. Make people tremble when they hear your name. Fear is your power.”

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Ruined is a strong start to a new fantasy series by Amy Tintera. It introduces a world where people with especial abilities or power called Ruined are hunted and killed to extinction by neighboring Kingdoms, Lera and Vallos. Emelina Flores is one of the Ruined and she wants revenge.

All Emelina’s loved ones are taken from her – her parents were killed, her sister Olivia was kidnapped and taken as a prisoner, her country is being destroyed, and her people are hunted one by one. She has nothing left but a goal to make her enemies pay. With an elaborate plan of deceit and lies Emelina will do everything to achieve her revenge. Her plan — she will pose as the Prince’s betrothed, while trying to get information about her sister and free her, and then kill the whole Royal family of Lera.

The story is well plotted that ensures readers to keep turning pages after pages. There are more than enough of plot arcs and twists to get lost into. Between waiting for Emelina’s identity to be revealed, her plans of killing the Royal family, her relationship to Cas, saving her sister, helping her people without them knowing, and her alliance to the other Kingdom there’s so many things going on and many are at stakes.

People dies, trust broken, sacrifices are made in this powerful story of revenge.

Amy Tintera introduces Emelina Flores to readers as the cold-blooded heroine. Just few pages from the start readers will find Emelina killing a Princess so she can take the Princess’ place as the Prince’s betrothed. From there Emelina will remove every obstacle on her path to get her revenge and have her sister back. She’s not exactly ruthless but she is non-apologetic. She is very determined and will do anything to survive. For someone who doesn’t have powers like her own people, Emelina is pretty skillful. She does what she can with what she has.

Prince Casimir started as a sheltered and naive Prince. He is unaware of how his father is ruling their Kingdom. But when he met Emelina with her unfiltered opinions and thoughts, Cas then started to see things differently and begin to questioned his father and the way they treat the Ruined.

The ending won’t exactly leave readers hanging over the edge of a steep cliff, but will surely want to know more what’s next to Emelina Flores, her sister Olivia, her people, and her Prince. It actually promise a darker story and leaves a foreboding remarks for readers to eagerly anticipate the next installment.

The only mild complaint with this book is the world building or the lack of it. For fantasy book, I really like when I can easily picture the world or surroundings where the story is set up. I do get that there are four Kingdoms in this book — Ruina, Lera, Vallos and Olso but the relation of these Kingdoms to each other and their actual land positions are pretty vague. Also, the reasons of why Lera and Vallos are targeting Ruina, and the Ruined powers wasn’t explored that much. Let’s just hope that Amy Tintera will tackle all those and more in the next installment.

All in all, Ruined is a fast-paced, thrilling, and riveting story. With lies, secrets, betrayal, murder and well written action scenes this new fantasy series by Amy Tintera will surely keep readers hooked from start to end.

* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Legacy of Kings

“Weakness, he has learned, isn’t in the arm or the leg or the back. Weakness is in the mind.”

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…

Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…

Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.

And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the shocking details of real history, New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known, Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Personal Thoughts:

Historical fiction is always a tricky read for me simply because I cannot disregard some facts about where the story is based which makes reading full of comparisons instead of just enjoying a new tale.

Legacy of Kings though fiction with added fantasy is actually based from real person, Alexander The Great. I don’t have much knowledge about Alexander the Great except for those details I got from my history class during middle school and few movies I have seen before. But with those little details I formed a bit of expectations for Legacy of Kings even before I started reading the book. I expected some familiar characters to appear, places to see, and few known facts about Alexander The Great but with considerations of the time-line since this one is set during Alexander The Great’s teenage life.

Eleanor Herman version of Alexander the Great’s teenage life is pretty well done. Clearly she did her research well enough to weaved a new story that readers will enjoy whether they knew or not the real Alexander the Great. The settings and characters are detailed in a way that readers will surely feel that they are in the real era where the King of Ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon lives.

Legacy of Kings has six point of views. Six characters who are all connected to Alexander in some way. As much as I like getting more informations of what is happening to everyone, the multiple point of view actually is one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy the story that much. Though their voices are clearly distinct, I feel like they are also stretched too thin. Normally, I don’t get irritated when scenes are cut in order to give way to other characters but in here I got frustrated. I feel like not everyone’s story is that interesting or at least not really that important to make the plot move. Not everyone’s point of view are necessary to the story, at least not yet in this installment. Maybe the author is planning to expand them in the next books but the way it was put in this first installment, they become more of the unnecessary pause for readers than introduction or developments to characters.

But there are three characters that stand out of me – Alexander himself, Kat and Cyn. I think the story will still work the same even if it was told just from two perspectives – Alexander and Kat. The other points of view can be omitted or mixed together with those two, after all, they are all connected in a way.

With so many points of view, the plots goes into different directions but mostly all are just set-up for a whole series. Nothing much is clear except for characters’ motives and actions which for sure will be expand more to the next installments.

The fantasy part of the story actually works with the historical part. It’s not overly magical which makes them quiet believable and even fitting to the era and settings. Nothing made my eyes rolls or questioned the existence and reality of them in the story. A very welcome addition to this version of Alexander’s life.

With all that, Legacy of Kings is still an interesting read in-spite of some slow points and unnecessary details. I think it is best to read this from the perspective of a series, as the book is clearly plotted with the other installments in mind. So if you want to read this fictional with touched of fantasy version of Alexander The Great’s life, I suggest for you to wait first for the other installments of this series or at least expect this book to be a grand set-up for a whole series.

Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

Night Study

“…there will always be sharks in the water. Nothing you can do about it except be careful where you swim.”

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

Personal Thoughts:

As always, Maria V. Snyder deliver another outstanding novel in Night Study. Just like the other books of this series this new addition to Yelena and Valek’s story is a thrilling and riveting read.

While Study series is Yelena and Valek’s story, the previous installments are undeniably centered to Yelana. Valek character though strong and interesting remains mysterious in the previous books. Those little snippets from Valek’s time with Yeda or with the Commander are not enough. We don’t really know him as much as Yelena. Valek’s past, his family, and the reason for his immunity to magic remain untouched until now.

As Maria reveal more layers of Valek in this installment, Valek’s character becomes more reachable and maybe even relate-able. Maria open Valek to readers making him more human than the dark and dangerous assassin every followers know from the previous books.

It is no surprise that Valek has a soft side, after-all he managed to fall in love, but seeing him vulnerable and even powerless is a risky twist for this series. Much more when he started to sound less of the most dangerous assassin and become the caring heart mate of Yelena. I don’t mind it at first since reading a happy couple is always a treat but somewhere along the way I fear for Valek’s character. What if Maria push him too much on the soft side, will that still be realistic for an assassin? Specially since Valek is not just an just ordinary assassin, he is the King Killer, his name alone can make everyone feel fear both in Sitia and Ixia. Then I realized, there’s one valid reason for Valek to be more caring than usual (it’s not Yelena), but the reason is more than enough to make any one in his position to show his soft side.

As Maria focus on Valek and his journey it also means that Valek has to go through the wringer. There are lots of hard choices for him – between Yelena and the Commander, his work and personal life, Ixia and Sitia, his immunity and new-found power things are really tough for him. If I didn’t know he is the fearless assassin I would probably say enough to Maria and just give the guy some break. But as always Valek do what is best or at least try his best. When Yelena drop the bomb at then end of Shadow Study I expect Valek to have some major reactions or at least different reaction than what he shows in the first part of this book. But then I realized this is Valek we are talking, the fearless assassin who is always calm even in the most dangerous times. So why am I expecting him to be suddenly different because of a news that isn’t even confirmed yet?

“But that was the problem with grief. No one ever asked for it. It arrived with its bags packed for an extended stay. It settled into your best guest room and demanded to be waited on all day long, and which it finally shuffled out the door, it left behind permanent scratches on your furniture.”

Anyway, lots of things happened to Valek but that doesn’t mean the other characters are forgotten. In fact everyone is busy with a lot of things that are happening – Cartel group, disappearing magicians (and no! it is not just magic tricks), Yelena’s lost power and condition, the Commanders being indifferent, the looming war. With those things and more, everyone are either busy figuring things out, analyzing people and situations, saving the day, saving themselves, or just trying to survive. Dangerous time for everyone and times like this usually leave casualties. I won’t say anymore about that, you just have to read the book and find out yourself.

Overall, Knight Study is another fantastic addition to this fantasy series of Maria V. Snyder. With non-stop actions, more risk, and impressing character development, Night Study is a gripping and  completely engrossing read that will surely thrilled readers.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Mira Ink UK.

Check my interview with Yelena here.

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Shadow Study Front Cover

“The best way to distribute information was to classify it as secret.”

Once, only her own life hung in the balance…

When Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. She survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia.

Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek. Suddenly, though, dissent is rising. And Valek’s job—and his life—are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover her enemies, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked.And now she must find a way to keep not only herself but all that she holds dear alive.


‘A compelling new fantasy series’ – Rhianna Pratchett, SFX on Poison Study

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads

Personal Thoughts:

Shadow Study is a start of a new fantasy series by Maria V Snyder that is set in the same world of Study series with the familar characters, Yelena and Valek. This couple is back again with more adventure to take, villains to kill, and stories to tell.

Maria V Snyder waste no time in putting Yelena and Valek into action. Right from the start, our heroine is put in danger which eventually blocked her magic. Without her power and lots of people who wants her dead, Yelena’s life is so much at risk. Valek on the other hand is busy doing his task as the Commander’s personal security chief in Ixia while trying to track down a smuggling operation.

The narrative is well written. The tree different point of views gives not only different sides of stories but also smoothly deliver a flowing connection in the end. Though it frustrates me that narration is sometimes cut in the middle of revelations or when something big is happening, I still think that Snyder successfully use this type of narrative to elicit reactions from her readers.

The best part of the three point of view is having the chance to read Valek’s thoughts. Not only because his point of view reveal another angle of the story but also every back-flash offers new revelations about his character. I particularly enjoy reading about his life under Hedda’s roof. How he become a highly skilled assassin,  and everything he did and sacrifice before he become in charge of Ixia and Commander’s security. I think those flash backs of Velek’s life will be helpful to new readers in catching up the details of this lovely series. Though I still recommend to read first the Study series before this one.

As for Yelena, losing her magic shows her vulnerable side but doesn’t makes her weak. In fact, she triumphantly showed that magic is not the only thing that made her. As a heroine, she is brave, smart and very capable even without her magic.

“I realized my magic had influenced how I viewed the world. I barely remember how I had interacted with my world without magic. I wouldn’t have thought I relied on my power so much or used to it to connect to the people around me in the past six years. Yet, I felt as if I’d been wrapped in a thick black cloth from head to toe. The cloth has holes for my eyes, ears, nose and mouth, but the rest of me remained swaddled.”

Besides with Yelena and Valek, readers will also treated with Janco’s point of view. As expected he provided the light tone of the story together with Ari. They are really fun together.

Onora, the new girl in the story is a feisty assassin who make an appearance by threatening Valek for his position as the Commander’s right-hand. When you make an introduction like that for a new character, who won’t approved? Right there, I am already intrigued with Onora. I set a hawked eye in her hopping that she will surprise me or at least shows that she is worth following for, and she didn’t disappoint. I’m looking forward to see more of her in the next installment of this series.

Yelena and Valek are separated majority of the book which kinda sad but I still felt necessary. Being apart somehow shows more of their individual strength which I think highlighted their characters more. And even if they are separated they both constantly thought of each other which just show how much they love and care for one another. So romance readers, don’t worry this couple doesn’t disappoint when it comes to giving you sighing moments.

As for the ending, I kinda anticipated Yelena’s revelation with the mention of her blood cycle one time during her visit to Healer Hayes at the early part of the novel. At that time I even assumed that Yelena’s lost/blocked magic has something to do with it but halfway reading I eliminate that theory to the list of possible cause of Elena’s condition. Which I ‘m really glad because it’s too weak to be the case.

With political intrigue, magic, danger, secrets, actions, and romance Shadow Study is a thrilling and engrossing fantasy novel from Maria V Snyder. Her fans will surely be delighted to this additional series, especially those who are eager to see more of Valek and Yelena again.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Mira Ink. Check out the rest of the tour below ShadowStudy BLOG TOUR HOR3