*Received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
One of the reasons I took so long with this one was because, as you may or may not know, I am a MASSIVE Tamora Pierce fan. Even if I hadn’t been ridiculously excited to receive this as an ARC (which, OMG, I was!!) I would have wanted to do this justice- but I also had more mixed feelings about this one that made me hesitant to put pen to paper.
This didn’t stand out to me as the best Tamora Pierce book- though even “not the best Tamora Pierce book” is still a good shout. What Pierce is famous for, and delivers here, is good, traditional fantasy fare. There’s plenty of adventure to be had and it was above all a lot of FUN- which is exactly what you want from a Middle Grade series opener!
In some ways, it was what I’d come to expect from Pierce- and yet there were also some innovative elements to the world building, which made it stand out from some of her other works. The setting alone added complexity to the story and transformed the tale into a more unique saga. In particular, I loved aspects like the crocodile god and hints at an intricate religious system.
While I did enjoy most of the narrative, I did feel much of it felt more like set up than plot. On the positive side, it made me feel like I’d love later books more- but this particular book felt a little overlong.
One other question mark I had was over the more educational aspect of the book, where Pierce attempted to show male puberty. I felt like this was adequately done, but I will admit the choice of the word “member” was somewhat off-putting and I wondered at the target audience’s response.
Overall though, I liked the characters and bully antagonists. The relationships between characters were well done and the romance, though not swoonworthy, was sweet. I definitely want to pick up the later books in the series and see where it goes!
Rating: 3½/5 bananas
Have you read this or Pierce’s other works? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!