January 10, 2018

Abbreviations #41 | Battle Magic, The Prince and the Dressmaker + The Language of Thorns

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Reforged #3
Previous Books in Series: The Will of the Empress, Melting Stones
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source: Purchased the Kindle book
Buy the Book: Book Depository | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

I’m really mad at myself for not reading this one sooner! Battle Magic is a belatedly written prequel (complicated, but Macky explains it in this video) that centers around Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy as they visit the Yanjing emperor’s palace, uncover his plot to invade Gyongxi and find themselves in the middle of a war and forced to do what they can to aid their allies and to survive. If this story sounds like it would make for a heavy read, well, you wouldn’t be wrong. It was difficult to read about the hardships and trauma that all three characters experience during the war, and even moreso considering how emotionally invested I am in all three members of this found family. But I couldn’t stop once I’d started, and that, I think is enough proof that it’s another compelling story from Tamora Pierce. I’m also quite impressed by how much Pierce has grown as a writer, as her grasp of storytelling is much stronger (even though it’s always been great in all the books I’ve ever read from her). It was, without a doubt, one of the best installments in the Emelan/Circle series and the strongest in terms of storytelling. If you’re at all invested in the Emelan/Circle world, in Briar and Rosethorn and Evvy, you must read this one for sure.

Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Source: Paperback received from the publisher (Thanks!)

This graphic novel is so wonderful, friends! It reads just like a fairytale. It centers around two characters – Sebastian, a prince looking for a bride and a boy who simply likes wearing dresses, and his best friend Frances, a girl who happens to be a talented dressmaker and dreams of being known as one of the greats – and the secret that is the central conflict of their story (and relationship). I was smiling a lot as I read this one, bolstered by the light tone, lovable characters and the simple yet compelling plot. I genuinely found it to be a gripping read! Plus, I thought it was a clever exploration into identity, and a fun look at fashion. I adored the way Jen Wang illustrated the tale. It’s definitely a graphic novel I would highly recommend that everyone pick up a copy of when it comes out next year!

The Language of Thorns book cover
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Imprint
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Source: Purchased the hardcover

I was really eager to get my hands on a copy of The Language of Thorns because it combines two things I absolutely love – Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and fairy tales. I’m so pleased to report that this collection of stories is just as wonderful as I’d imagined they would be! Filled with magic and mayhem, these tales do have familiar elements and plots but become special with Bardugo’s spin on each one. I also have to give a little shout-out to the illustrator Sara Kipin, whose beautiful artwork added a whole new dimension to this collection. All in all, I thought it was a very strong selection of tales and would highly recommend any Grishaverse fan check it out! (Plus, I wouldn’t be averse to reading a second collection should one come to exist…)

If you’re curious about my thoughts on each individual story, I’ve included that (and my rating) below:

  • Ayama and the Thorn Wood (3.5 stars) – I love that this reads so much like a classic fairytale, but with a monstrous twist. It definitely has the elements I love – a strong female protagonist, a situation where perspective shifts change everything and a clever storytelling aspect.
  • The Too Clever Fox (4.5 stars) – This one reads more like a fable, as it has a clear moral to the story. I loved the mischievous, intelligent nature of the fox, and I liked the way it wrapped up by the end. It was one of the more engrossing tales included!
  • The Witch of Duva (4 stars) – I’ve actually read this one before, but I had totally forgotten how this story plays out. It’s very terrifying and dark! It was still compelling, and I liked the magical aspect of it a lot.
  • Little Knife (4 stars) – I’m a sucker for a task-driven story, and this one is no exception. I’m even more pleased that it’s a tale that gets turned on its head and is entirely different by the end.
  • The Soldier Prince (3.5 stars) – I have yet to read such a fascinating and terrifying take on the Nutcracker tale. It was magical and disturbing (in the same way The Witch of Duva is), but I definitely liked the fairytale vibe.
  • When Water Sang Fire (5 stars) – I LOVED THIS STORY SO VERY MUCH! It’s my favorite of the collection. It was so lovely, and such an excellent twist on a fairytale that I already loved. 


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