A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tempests and Slaughter is the first book in a new series by best-selling author Tamora Pierce, set in her medieval fantasy world of Tortall. Best known for her strong heroines, Pierce builds this story around a male lead character, Arram, who's 10 (and lying about his age) when we first meet him as a student at the Imperial University of Carthak, where he's developing his magical powers and studying the healing arts. There's a lot going on in this page-turner: war, poisoning, slavery, gladiators hacking one another to death, heirs to the throne getting murdered, lots of magic, a couple of gods who take an interest in Arram -- and likable, kindhearted teens dealing with the challenges of puberty and romance. Issues like slavery are heavy and intense, and there's frequent gore and violence in and out of the arena. But there's also a lot of humor, positive messages, and relatable situations in the adventures of these young student mages.
What's the story?
TEMPESTS AND SLAUGHTER finds young, magically gifted Arram Draper narrowly escaping death, thanks to a gladiator, just before he takes up his studies at the Imperial University of Carthak. There, the studious 10-year-old (who says he's 11) becomes best friends with two slightly older students: pretty Varice, who's especially good with potions and looking out for her friends, and Prince Ozorne, a formerly insignificant royal who keeps getting closer to the throne as the other heirs meet untimely deaths. Over the next several years, the three develop their skills, pursue their studies, and keep a strong friendship while dealing with hazards that range from murder and palace intrigue to puberty and crushes, with assorted adults and the occasional god taking an interest.
Is it any good?
Tamora Pierce returns to Tortall with a promising new teen magician series, as young Arram and his friends deal with murderous plots, magical forces, social injustice, and the perils of puberty. Tempests and Slaughter is an exciting, entertaining ride, with serious issues along the way, epic conflicts, frequent laughs, and a satisfying conclusion that sets up the next installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why stories about magical academies, and the kids who study there, are so popular. What other examples can you think of? How does Tempests and Slaughter measure up?
Author Tamora Pierce is best known for her strong female heroes. Why do you think she decided to make her main character here a boy -- and how do you think she did?
Does the treatment of slavery in Tempests and Slaughter give you any new insight into that real-life period in U.S. history? What's life like for enslaved people?
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