Book Review: Battle Magic (Circle Reforged #3) by Tamora Pierce

Posted 12/06/2013 by alicemarvels in Fantasy
Book Review: Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce




Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Page Count: 440


new insight into beloved characters; realistic depiction of war; beautiful, yet simple writing


an unnecessary subplot distracts from the more compelling aspects of the story

A beautifully written, if flawed, Emelan fantasy that reinforces Tamora Pierce’s talent for brilliant character development.

First, a disclaimer: I am a HUGE fan of Tamora Pierce’s fantasy novels, and I grew up with her Tortall books on my nightstand. They were a gateway into more fantasy reading, much in the same way I think Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson’s novels are for a lot of YA readers these days. Her Emelan book series doesn’t quite have the same place in my heart as her Tortall books do, but I’ve still thoroughly enjoyed the ones I have read. Battle Magic, the third book in the Circle Reforged series, is one of those Emelan books that I enjoyed, but never quite fell in love with, unfortunately.

That’s not to say there wasn’t much to admire in this book, because it IS Tamora Pierce, after all. She once again displays her phenomenal talent for characterization, and a smart, thoughtful treatment of relationships, war, and complex political struggles. We delve into the traumatizing events in Gyongxe that have plagued Briar and Evvy in prior books, and they are as horrifying as you could possibly imagine. Evvy’s experiences especially broke my heart. The Emperor is invading Gyongxe, intent on acquiring the temples and their treasures in the hopes of becoming even more powerful than he already is (and we are shown during a visit to his summer palace that he is nearly unrivaled in the region). None of the scenes of war are candy coated, but they are also not unnecessarily dramatic or maudlin. Pierce has an even-keeled, effortless writing style that makes you feel like war is unfolding around you, and it is unstoppable and brutal as you’d expect, but in a realistic way (as realistic as war involving mages can be, of course). I love the inventive and beautifully rendered magic of Evvy, Briar and Rosethorn, and seeing their relationships develop and strengthen through their trials.

If the plotting and pacing had been a bit tighter I would have adored Battle Magic. Evvy, Briar and Rosethorn spend too much time like war tourists, meandering around, contemplating leaving, arguing about whether to stay and fight a bit longer, and alternately fleeing and fighting the imperial army.  Rosethorn also takes a long and distracting side journey to achieve a magical end that seems rather inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.

Overall, in spite of a few distractions that prevented my total love for this book, Battle Magic confirms that Tamora Pierce is still an incredible writing talent, and I can never not read her books.




    I’ve heard so much about this book and series! I can’t believe I haven’t even read book one yet. Even if this book isn’t your fave, you still really enjoyed it and that speaks so well of this author. Must find that first book!


    Hm…i should try Pierce it seems


    I have never tried this author but I am super curious about her work now.

    Great honest review like always Lauren!!


    My favorite part of this book was the relationship between Evvy, Briar and Rosethorn. How they banter, how they support each other and how they really love each other — it’s fantastic.


    I have never read a book by this author. Sounds like she is one I need to try. It is too bad though that the subplot gets in the way of the magic!


    Sadly I have only read one of her books, which is just ridiculous. And that was years ago. I wish I had many more hours in my day to read because so many of these fantasy authors I am DYING to read but they are older books or series and they tend to get pushed aside. One of these days…


    I cannot believe I haven’t read any book by this author and it seems to me I’ve been missing a lot. I haven’t heard of this one but just one look at that cover would make me wanna read it. I’m sorry it had flaws but also glad you enjoyed it overall :)


    I’ve only read a few Tortall books but not the Emelan ones – the meandering doesn’t sound appealing although I’m curious about the magic. Thanks for sharing!

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