(The Immortals: Book 1)
384 Pages, Published in 2005
By Tamora Pierce
"Daine looked at her hands. They were laced through with strands of reddish light, almost as if her veins had the power to glow. Intertwined with the red were strands of copper fire. She looked at the owl, at the vole, and at her hands - all the same shade of copper." (p.161)
Daine is thrust into a new life when she finds herself orphaned at the age of 13. On her way to the Kingdom of Tortall, Daine signs on as an assistant to Onua, a K'miri who trains horses and recruits for the Queen's Riders, an army made up of men and women from various classes.
We soon discover that Daine has the unique ability to communicate and heal any animal. Under the guidance of the mage Numair, she learns to control and direct her magic, all the while building friendships and establishing trust within her new community.
Meanwhile, trouble brews in the Kingdom as numerous evil mythical creatures begin to surface and attack the common people. Daine's strength is tested when she must aid in the defense of the Kingdom while visiting Pirate's Swoop.
Will she defeat the demonic creatures, and protect her animal and human friends?
This book does NOT have lust, a strong romantic strain, does not employ the first person perspective, and is not about a hidden world about which us average humans remain ignorant.
BUT, the story is able to pull at strings in the reader's imagination, so that both the reader and author weave together a world of adventure and magic.
When I was in junior high, I became hooked on the 'Alanna' series by Tamora Pierce. The entire quartet remained high on my list of favorite books for a long time.
Remembering my love for those books and reading a few reviews that use Pierce as a pedestal for judging newer young adult novels, I decided to revisit this author with a different series than what I had previously read.
This story at base level envelopes the reader in a fantastical world set back in time, in a Kingdom that defies traditions with its young King Jonathan and his wife Queen Thayet, and female Champion Knight Alanna.
Although a bit slow to start, eventually the reader is caught up in the adventurous spirit of the novel, flipping through the pages to soak up what happens next.
At a more in-depth examination, this novel also address the issues of belonging and the importance of a community. Daine has never known her father and has no family left when her mother and grandfather are killed. She is able to appreciate the memory of them having always been there in support of her, but cannot survive on her own without the love and friendship from the other characters that 'adopt' her. The novel is also about the strength of the female, and the promotion of young girls learning to be confident in who they are, and independent in their actions.
Overall, I enjoyed reading a novel where the focus was the plot and the development of the main characters, and not a dramatic love/lust story. We are given time to get to know the characters, all the while being treated to a rich portrayal of a world where magic, kingdoms, and battles for freedom are the norm.