Review: Tamora Pierce – Tortall and Other Lands

Tortall and Other Lands
Tamora Pierce

This is a collection of short stories all written by Tamora Pierce. Six are easily identifiable as belonging to the Tortall universe. Three appear to be short stories of a different universe, but possibly could also be from Tortall. The last two don’t fit in with the explicit fantasy theme at all, although one has a touch of magic.

‘Student of Ostriches ‘ is the first short story in this book, which I recently read and reviewed from the book Young Warriors, edited by Tamora Pierce.

‘Elder Brother’ is the other side of the story for the tree who has become a man, after Numair changes an evil mage into an apple tree (see the Wild Magic Quartet – to be reviewed soon). Qiom has no idea what to do as a human, and Fadal decides to help him adjust to his new life. It is hard for both of them because Fadal has secrets too. I really enjoyed this story, both as a supporting story for the other quartet, and for exploring Fadal’s character. The land they are in sounds somewhat like a Muslim country to me, because all women must be veiled tightly, and only protected by their menfolk.
‘The Hidden Girl’ overlaps with ‘Elder Brother’. The protagonist encounters Qiom, and happens to be teaching in the same town in which Fadal is almost burnt. Teky is hidden behind her veils, and through that she tries to teach the real voice of the Oracle, that says veiled women should not be powerless. The last line of this story really gave me a giggle! Very enjoyable.
‘Nawat’ is told from the perspective of Nawat, Aly’s crow friend. Before reading this story, it is important to have read the Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen book so that you understand about crows (and don’t spoil their relationship for yourself!). It’s a longer short story, well written and hearttouching. I did have problems with the way the birthing was presented and also that the 6 month old was able to say understandable words. Otherwise, yay, another Aly story!
‘The Dragon’s Tale’ features Kitten, the dragon daughter of Daine! Yay! Kitten is unable to talk, but she still gets her message across well. Kitten is on tour, and is totally bored. Instead she finds someone in need with rare two toned magic just like Numair.
‘Lost’ has a darking in it. I’m fond of darkings, and they are so clever. It’s a story many people may be able to identify with, being beaten for things that they cannot be blamed for. The ability of Adria for her mathematics is wonderful! I love hearing about someone who is excellent at what they do, but yet is not aware of it.
‘Time of Proving’ involves a being of some kind that I couldn’t identify. It shows the importance of helping a friend, even when that friend is rather unworldly.
‘Plain Magic’ also has a dragon! My favourite. It appears that Pierce enjoys writing about Dragons as much as I enjoy reading about them. Once again, someone who shows great skill is held back by others who are frightened of her abilities.
‘Mimic’ has a different type of creature. When compared to Kitten, it doesn’t seem to be the same. Saying too much more is would ruin it for you. I did enjoy the growing up theme, and also the benefits that are reaped by the protagonist for caring for something that appears to be dying.
‘Huntress’ and ‘Testing’ do not belong with the rest of the short stories. ‘Huntress’ seems quite jarring after the enjoyable short stories from before – a little too serious to belong with the rest, and with an entirely different type of magic. Personally I found ‘Testing’ to be a good general teen novel. I sympathised with the protagonist, but I didn’t really understand why Pierce had given her panic attacks – it didn’t really contribute to
An enjoyable read. The majority of these stories are valuable additions to the Tortall universe. Recommended for teenagers. Some I would say were ok for children, but others (particularly ‘Huntress’) are unsuitable.

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