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Parents' Guide to

The Will of the Empress

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Mages gather to deal with politics and love.

The Will of the Empress Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 12+

Great read

While I feel that this book isn't as strong as her others, there is a some great writing here. It does have a slow start and I was a bit annoyed by the way the main characters were arguing all the time - but this is a realistic portrayal of what happens when people grow apart and how they are able to get back together. I think the message of family always sticking together is really strong. There is a lesbian romance here but this was one of the best parts in my opinion. I think it is very important to expose children to a more accepting view of differences. However, be warned if this is not something your family wants to read about. It is very tame - there is only kissing. However, it is implied that Briar is sleeping around. There are very strong themes of women's rights based around the tradition of kidnapping women and marrying them. The main characters are very much against this and oppose it in the book. This could lead to discussions of other forced marriage situations in today's world.
age 14+

Disappointing False Advertising

When I picked up this book, I read "romance" on the back and thought: "Gee! Isn't that great? Tamora Pierce, an accomplished author, is writing a serious teen book with adventure AND romance! What could go wrong?" Unfortunately, the only "romance" involved was the aforementioned tame lesbian relationship. The enticing (read: only interesting) prospect near the beginning that seemed set up specifically to allay all the silly (yes, I said it, SILLY!) gripes revolving in the four main characters' heads, and it flops. Not only does it flop, it festers, shrivels and disperses into ash, taking with it the only salvageable and interesting part of the story... oh, except for a surprise kidnapping which managed to actually seem emotionally wrenching for a few minutes or so. Parents would be ill-advised to blindly let their children read this book. Tame though the lesbian relationship may be, it comes off as manipulative and downright creepy, as it's only barely possible one of our "heroines" isn't being just as tricked as we are, not to mention there are still families in this world who DON'T approve of such things, and there is no hint at it on the cover to warn readers what they're getting into, whatsoever. Moreover, I take issue with the way the book tries to sell itself as "romance," with "marriage" as part of the pitch, and only touches lightly on a sort of relationship far from expectation and unsatisfying to anyone who was in it to see the reports of "forced marriage" turned on their head by something genuine and beautiful. Instead, there's an oddly slipshod attempt at "brother and sisters," which is rarely strengthened as the characters spend most of their time cross with one or the other of their "family." There are moments of good writing, but the only reason I finished this book was so my mind would stop coming up with hopeful endings to combat this pile of absurdity. Any kid who wants to read this better be well prepared for a sickening letdown after coming to trust traitorous characters, but if they're old enough, they may be able to handle it on their own, thus not needing the coaching. Definitely, though, there should be serious consideration on who's ready to read this thing.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This book is a gift to author Tamora Pierce's legions of fans. Its pleasures derive from knowing the characters and enjoying seeing them reunited and in command of (and showing off) their considerable powers. Those who have not read the previous two quartets (see Related Books below) will be able to follow along, but will miss many of the allusions and may wonder what the fuss is all about.

This very long book is not a grand fantasy -- no battles, no good vs. evil, not even any deaths. It's more of a humorous lark: the first hundred pages consist mainly of the main characters bickering, the second and third hundred mainly flirting, royal entertainments, and some devious manipulations by the empress. The real story, such as it is, doesn't even get moving until the second half, when the heroes get to show off their intriguing powers a bit, though they are never in serious danger. Fans will eat it all up, newcomers are advised to read the quartets first.

Book Details

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