Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles #1) by Tamora Pierce

tempestsFinally, my first Tamora Pierce book and surely not my last! Arram Draper is the star of the show and apparently he has appeared in previous books, known to readers as Numair Salmalín.  This is where his story begins.

The setting here is predominantly the Imperial University of Carthak where readers follows three friends as they study to become mages.  Arram is a young student who has been advanced due to his magical potential.  As the story sets off we witness his ‘gift’ in action as he accidentally fills the classroom with water and nearly drowns his fellow classmates and master in the process.  From there forward Arram is removed to more intensive studies with 1:1 tuition provided by a number of masters who will now attempt to teach him better control.  Of course, being singled out in this way does nothing for his popularity with the other students but fortunately Arram finds himself luckily situated in that two of his fellow students, also very gifted and similarly advanced in learning, befriend him and soon the three become inseparable.

Firstly, to address the elephant in the room – Hi Nellie, I see you over there waving your trunk.  Yes, this story obviously contains a number of similarities to Harry Potter.  A magical school, a standout student and a tight friendship with two other students, but, that being said I wouldn’t really say the two are alike other than on a surface level.  Magical schools are popular tropes for a reason and this is no exception and makes for enjoyable reading.  I found myself easily absorbed into Arram’s life at Uni and the constant ups and downs of student life.  Where this differs greatly from HP is in terms of the time period covered which advances quite quickly – I think we first meet Arram around the age of 11 and by the conclusion of this first book he’s over 14 years old.

There is a definite charm to this book and Arram makes a very easy subject to read and engaging character.  To be honest the actual plot is very light and yet it wasn’t until I’d advanced some way that that really occurred to me.  I would definitely say that this book is a set up book but I don’t really mean that in a negative way.  I’m simply pointing it out because I think if you pick this one up it’s best to be aware that the story is a little meandering and quite slow paced.  It certainly didn’t hamper my reading any, probably due to the writing style which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In terms of the other characters.  Arram’s two close friends are Ozorne.  Ozorne is a prince but with a long line of people ahead of him in terms of succession he’s known rather disparagingly as the ‘leftover’ prince.  Varice is beautiful and clever and Arram finds himself falling for her as the years pass by.  Musenda was a favourite character.  He’s a gladiator slave, I really enjoyed the chapters in which he took part and could happily read more from his pov.  On top of that we have some interesting masters, a crocodile god and a rather cute young bird that Arram undertakes to take care of and eventually seems to wow everyone that it comes into contact with.  Plus – the Hag – what a wonderful creation, a God who Arram seems to have drawn the attention of, maybe something he will live to regret, or maybe not.

Did I have any criticisms.  A couple.  I did experience a slight feeling of everything being too easy for Arram.  Things just fell into his lap, everyone seems to think he’s wonderful and I never really got a sense of him having to strive for anything – which given his incredibly punishing timetable is something of a surprise.  My other niggle was a sense of things feeling a little obvious – although tbh, at this stage, my theories on how this might go forward could be completely wrong.  I’ll find out with the next instalment I guess.

Otherwise, I found this a very good start to the series.  I imagine that for readers returning to a beloved world and a favourite character this must be an absolute treat and for others, like myself, who haven’t read this author before and so don’t know how Arram’s story will eventually pan out, this seems like a good starting point.  I look forward to seeing how Arram’s develops and hope that on the strength of this series I’ll be curious enough to pick up more stories from this world.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.