Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Page Count: 260 pages
Copyright Date: 1992
"No, I do not have the Gift." Daine says it once, and she says it again. She says it every time someone suggests that she has magical powers. What she has is a knack with animals. They come to her, listen to her, obey her. It is at least partly because of that knack that now, at thirteen, with her mother and grandda killed by raiders, she has no home, no place she can call her own. People who know her are afraid of what she can do. But Onua, horse mistress for a special police group in the neighboring country of Tortall, does not fear her; instead she welcomes Daine as a valued help in driving a herd of ponies back to Tortall.
It is on that journey that Daine discovers, in a time of great peril, that she not only has power over animals but has the power to sense the presence of dangerous immortal creatures who are beginning to appear all over the land. It is then- and later when she meets King Jonathan and Queen Thayet; the king's champion, Alanna, and her husband the baron of Pirate's Swoop; and mostly when she meets the mage Numair- that she discovers that she has to learn to use her magic, that the fate of a kingdom might depend upon what she can do. The question then becomes whether she can learn enough, and whether her skills with animals and her ability to deal with immortals will prove strong enough when the test comes.
Those who have read Tamora Pierce's earlier series, The Song of the Lioness, will be glad to meet the characters they have come to know in those books. But the new readers and old will find these new adventures exciting and value Daine for the special person she is.
I was a shy, book loving 6th grader who spent every morning before class in the school's library. One morning, I had finished all of Meredith Ann Pierce's Birth of the Firebringer trilogy and was in the slump that happens after completing a reading marathon- the feeling of emptiness that hollows out your insides and leaves you wandering the aisles, and wondering what you could possibly read next to fill the void. I went to the fiction section, in the P's to see if I had missed any other books by Meredith Ann Pierce that I might be interested in, and came across another Pierce: Tamora. There was only one book there but the title piqued my fantasy loving brain, Wild Magic, and the cover cemented my interest when I got an eyeball on it.
Wild Magic practically jumped off the shelf into my hands. It's cover had everything a 6th grade Stacy could dream of- a girl about my age as the main character, a horse on the cover fighting alongside it's master, a castle and a monster! My absolute gratitude goes to the librarian of my middle school who ordered Tamora Pierce's other books for me when I asked for them. I love Wild Magic for introducing me to Tamora Pierce, whilst my favorites of her books are the Song of the Lioness quartet that include, Alanna: the First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant.
I feel like who I am as a person was shaped by reading about Alanna's adventures in Tortall, and it's no real surprise that Tamora Pierce's Tortall books are my favorites. As a now 36 year old, I am re-reading my Immortals quartet to re-familiarize myself with Numair Salmalin's character so that I can read Tamora Pierce's newest book out, Tempests and Slaughter, which is a story based on Numair's time as Arram Draper in the Empire of Carthak. I am super excited to read it, and honestly, excited to re-read The Immortals, as it has been YEARS since I have read Daine's story.
I'm going to share my favorite scenes from Wild Magic next, so there may be some spoilers, if you haven't read the book. As I read the book, I marked every part where I felt either choked up or excited. The first is where I first heard about the character of Alanna:
'"At the end of the road-we'll see. We're bound for the capital of Tortall-"
The girl's face lit up. "Where a lady knight is the king's champion, right? And they let girls in the army? That Tortall?"'
The very next scene that I marked on my reading is my first real introduction to my all time favorite character, and I literally cried while reading this, probably because I was overly emotional due to the time of the month, and because I'm a sap when it comes to Tortall books and characters.
'Daine gaped at the company that approached. Mail-clad warriors on beautiful horses rode in four rows, their white, hooded capes flapping grandly at their backs. The earth shook with the pounding of their steeds' hooves. Before them came a standard-bearer, his flag a silver blade and crown on a royal blue field.
Beside him was a full knight in gold-washed mail, his gold helm mirror bright. He bore a lance; on his left arm was a red shield with a device like a gold cat rearing on its hind paws. The knight's horse was larger than those of the white-caped warriors, though not as large as the chargers normally used by those who wore full mail or plate armor. It was as gold as the cat on the knight's shield, with a black mane and tail.
Together the company made a picture out of legends. "Oh, glory," whispered Daine.'
'She looked back: the men of the King's Own were in the saddle. "Forward!"
Daine, in awe, watched them go. This was what she'd dreamed when Onua said they were going to Tortall. Well, some things are different, she thought as the riders retreated from view. Pulling the badger's claw out of her shirt, she polished it with a thumb. She's shorter than I expected. And I never thought she'd swear, or make jokes. She's a legend, sure enough, but she's so human.'
About Daine, there were things that I wished I could do like Daine. What am I kidding? I wanted to be her too. Who wouldn't want to be able to talk to animals and heal them with magic?
'You may look like a human, but you aren't. You're the People: the folk of claw and fur, wing and scale.
"Impossible," the girl said flatly. "Look at me. I'm pink, my fur's patchy, I walk on two legs. I'm human, human all over."
On the outside, the pony insisted. Not inside. Inside you're People.
I have over 15 places marked in Wild Magic that I was going to share, but it would make this blog post too long! I look forward to moving on to reading Wolf-speaker next, and finishing up with Emperor-Mage and The Realms of the Gods. I'm interested in doing a video about Wild Magic, or maybe I will wait until I have finished all of The Immortals and do a full review there, as well.
I was thinking the other day, that Tamora Pierce knows everything about Alanna, and she must know how she dies, and that made me sad and envious, that I don't know more about Alanna, the Lioness. I think after The Immortals and Tempests and Slaughter, that I just may re-read Song of the Lioness, as well.
Damn, I love these books.