Tempests and Slaughter was the Tamora Pierce book I wasn't sure I needed but ended up really loving.
I adore Tamora Pierce. I've been reading her since the age of ten, and her books dominated my early teens. Among my favourites was her Immortals sequence, in which we first met the powerful mage, Numair. Tempests and Slaughter is the first installment in a series that will reveal his backstory - and that of Ozorne, the Emperor Mage, and Numair's greatest enemy.
I was worried to start off with. I would have been happy to let Numair's past remain a mystery - but I couldn't NOT read it. The boy Numair (referred to in this series by his birth name, Arram) has lots of power but no safe way to use it, so the first couple of chapters seemed light on magic and heavy with childish uncertainty.
What we did establish, however, was Numair's friendship with Ozorne, who shows few signs of the tyrant he will become. As they and their friend Varice catapult into their teens, their abilities increase and they all become much more interesting. Arram starts to attract trouble, usually in the form of magical creatures - and these have always been a highlight of Pierce's books, as they are full of personality (and since they often talk, snark).
The later chapters take a dark turn, which may be a little bit of a shock to younger readers but will gratify older fans. I'm eagerly awaiting the next instalment! Pierce definitely still has it!
- Amy, QBD Strathpine