Admittedly this was a long time coming. My reading was interrupted, first by a terrible book before this I did not finish and then by an overwhelming amount of crucial assignments. Thus this next book was a much slower one to try and finish.
That’s not to say the third instalment in Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic series was bad. Not at all.
In this book Wild Magic user Daine travels South to Carthak. There she tends to the Emperor’s animals and explores the culturally different atmosphere the realm has to offer. Meanwhile, her royal peers try to resolve conflicts the Emperor might start. Then Daine is told by the gods looking over her that she must be weary for what else is in store, more importantly their wrath.
An improvement from the last book in the series, the already introduced characters were mentioned and suitably active. Although it sounded like the events in the previous book a lot of the time were insignificant, aside from Daine learning her shapeshifting abilities. This seems to be a problem across the series, where many of the events don’t appear to correlate across books. This book had less problems occurring with that than the previous ones though, with characters from book one returning with purpose, even if it is minor.
The world building and character interactions linked together well in this book, granted it was one of those “new land” kind of storylines. I have to give props for the variation in settings used to build the world, taking on Eastern cultures to inspire the land of Carthak. There were a handful of moments where it felt like whitewashing was about to take place in the book, but the way that Daine and Kaddar handle it and discussed it as the book progressed wound up sensible, with Daine suggesting societal improvements without depriving Kaddar’s culture. The way these two altered each other’s perspectives worked really way, making me enjoy the chemistry between the two.
The plot was the strongest it has been in the series yet. It was engaging to work out the various mysteries and how they all connected, from the Graveyard Hag to the Emperor’s suspicious behaviour. The buildup was incredible and had me hooked each time, by far Pierce’s strongest plot type compared to her journey and infiltration plots in previous books.
Now comes the biggest issue, the one addressed in the title. Daine ends up in a rage over an event that happens in the climax, a very rare occasion for her. She creates an army of animals to storm the Emperor’s palace in vengeance with the intent to kill him it seems. She does a fantastic job of wrecking the palace, but then she gets to the Emperor. Does she cause any form of physical harm to the Emperor herself? Nope. Other characters do it for their own personal reasons. Then is turns out the event that Daine thought happen didn’t happen due to an illusion? And all she does is get embarrassed for her rage? No. I’m not happy with that. Nothing paid off for Daine in the end. It didn’t feel like a victory despite how obvious it was because her goal was not fulfilled.
You know what they say about an ending making or breaking a book? That applies to me.
The Emperor Mage gets a score of 3.5/5. A filling book with a bad aftertaste, so let’s just imagine that Daine actually resolved the plot herself.
Yours in writing