Wild Magic – Tamora Pierce

“Each year, at the end of March, a great fair was held in Cira, the capital of Galla.”

When horse-wrangling Onua takes on a new apprentice, she gets more than she bargained for in Daine. As the two travel towards the capital and meet some familiar faces from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall-set works (the Alanna aka Song of the Lioness series was written before this), it becomes apparent that Daine’s ‘way with animals’ is so very much more.

The Immortals quartet has been re-realised following the new Tortall book, Tempests and Slaughter, which I hadn’t realised until now was a prequel, telling the early days of Numair aka Arram Draper – who appears here as a fully-fledged magician. He realises that Daine has ‘wild magic’, and takes her under his wing as the trio face an influx of immortals – creatures from myth, trapped for centuries in the realm of the gods, and for some unknown reason making appearances all across the land. Some – gryphons, undines – aren’t unwelcome, but more are the stuff of nightmare.

Tamora Pierce writes for a younger audience, so this is a gentle tale, with a young lead I would have adored back in the day. Daine is more shy, more of an outside, than Alanna – the only of Pierce’s books I was lucky enough to find when I was a pre-teen. Wild Magic has aged well, often a problem with 80s and 90s fantasy fiction, although it might be a tad unchallenging for those who prefer George RR Martin or Lord of the Rings.

I enjoyed the light read. I could easily imagine younger me envying Daine’s way with animals, and the way that helps her be accepted by so many important adults.

The author has added an afterword which I really liked – not least because it shows she uses the same ‘casting’ for her characters as I do in my own scribbles: picking famous actors to serve as reminders for physical appearance and mannerisms. It’s rare to see with such clarity the visual the author had in mind – certainly, picturing Numair as Jeff Goldblum has changed my mental image entirely!

NetGalley eARC: 400 pages / 10 chapters
First published: 1992
Series: The Immortals book 1 (of 4)
Read from 29th October – 5th November 2018

My rating: 8/10

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