Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Power in the Storm

Tris's Book
~Tris's Book~
Circle of Magic
Book 2
By Tamora Pierce
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

Earthquake damage leaves Winding Circle vulnerable to pirate attack, so everyone—including the young mages-in-training Tris, Briar, Daja, and Sandry—is working to strengthen the community's defenses. When Tris's cousin Aymery comes to visit, he advises the "weather witch" to return to the family that exiled her, but she doesn't wish to leave her friends to face the threat without her.

As the onslaught begins, two things become terribly clear: the pirates have a powerful new weapon, and they have an accomplice within Winding Circle. But the attackers have failed to reckon with the fury of a young mage betrayed once too often and her very stubborn, very loyal friends...

I've always related to Tris the most out of the quartet (or any of Tammy's characters, for that matter). She's bookish, intelligent, very much a realist, a bit chubby and insecure, but loyal and strong when she needs to be. That she has the most power in terms of destructive properties of the bunch only makes her more inspiring, having such a weight on her shoulders. But her friends are not about to let her carry it alone. And they're all stubborn enough not to take 'no' for an answer.

There's a ton more action and magic at play here, and not even the adults have all the answers. I think that's what makes the adults here so relatable and strong. Even with all their training, knowledge, and strength, they're not above listening to and learning from their students. And even adults can have a sense of humor. So even though most of them are over 30, they're just as much fun to read about as the kids.

Tammy always does a great job in setting up strong female characters in all her stories. But even more impressive is the equally strong emphasis she gives the males. She doesn't place her women among idiots, but gives them the ability to shine next to equally strong men. Briar and Niko are excellent examples. Briar is crafty and loyal, but he sometimes needs a little female common sense to keep him from getting into trouble. Niko is one of the most renowned mages in the world, but even he isn't invincible or limitless in his abilities. Even Frostpine admits when dealing with seasickness, "I need faults, to accent my excellence—otherwise—I would be too wonderful to live with" (pg 92). Brains, brawn, and humor? Count me in!

I remember on my previous reading thinking about how dark this book really was. It's a pirate attack, so the violence is much more prominent than before, though still not very graphic. Obviously I'm no authority on this kind of thing, but I was a little surprised thinking about 10-year-olds reading about characters getting stabbed, ships exploding, and floating among the dead... Then again, I didn't remember any of that from my first reading when I was in 8th grade, so perhaps it's not as prominent as the magic and humor of the characters.

Overall I'd highly recommend this to lovers of fantasy and strong females. Young characters and absence of strong language or romance still put this safely at Middle Grade level, but I believe it's just as enjoyable for Young Adult and older readers. If you haven't been hooked by these marvelous, magical characters yet, you surely will in Tris's Book.

Approximate Reading Time: 3 hours

Whisper Stories in My Ear

Read by Tamora Pierce, Bruce Coville & Full Cast Audio
(click for cast names)
Length: 5.6 Hours
Listened at 1.8x Speed

Having picked up this sequel only a few hours after reading the previous, I found it obvious that one of the voice actors had changed. Briar was voiced by a Spencer Murphy in Sandry's Book, while here he is played by a Carolin Murphy. Related perhaps? I'm not sure the reason for the recasting, but other than being aware of the change, I didn't find it particularly distracting.

All the other characters' voices reprise their roles, and are joined with a few new unforgettable voices. Each is distinct enough to tell apart even without he said/she said tags, though they are included as a reminder if a voice hasn't spoken in a while.

I particularly love the use of music and sound effects. Music plays as an indicator of breaks and chapters, and it changes somewhat depending on the mood of the text it follows. Clear distinctions through sound modulation are made between when a character is speaking, thinking, or communicating through magic, which happens a lot more in this book. Thought-voices were made a bit more echo-y, and magic-voices had an underlying music with them. I was never confused as to what was out loud and what was internal.