Parents' Guide to

Tortall and Other Lands

By Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Short stories feature strong heroines, some mature content.

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A Lot or a Little?

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

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Is It Any Good?

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If your teens like short stories, there's lots to enjoy here, whether they're longtime Pierce fans or new to her work. The stories set within the Tortall universe are entertaining in their own right, as well as fun for fans who are always eager to read more about characters they know and love. Fans will appreciate being able to see things from Kitten's point of view in "The Dragon's Tale," for instance, since her previous appearances in Pierce's books have never given readers her perspective. And the darkings are always great comic relief. The least successful -- and longest -- of the Tortall-set tales is "Nawat"; the pacing is off, and some of the plot points are a bit murky/confusing. "Elder Brother" offers a pointed-but-not-overdone message about what it really means to be human; its follow-up, "The Hidden Girl," is more heavy handed but will have a lot of resonance in today's world.

Among the non-Tortall stories, "Plain Magic" (which is one of Pierce's first fictional pieces) has echoes of the themes that would appear later in her Circle of Magic series, while "Time of Proving" and "Mimic" are entertaining, if not stand-outs. "Huntress," which takes place in our contemporary world, is one of the most violent of the stories; it's exciting to see Pierce tackle a different type of fantasy, but those who know her Tortall books are likely going to keep their fingers crossed that she chooses to keep returning to that land. Which circles around to what may by the book's single biggest flaw for existing Pierce fans (and/or those who don't gravitate toward short stories): Just when you're getting back into the groove with characters you enjoy, the story's over.

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