This is a story of greed and conquest, death and blood. But it’s also a story about the power of good people who refuse to accept tyranny and evil. Sounds heavy, right? Well, it is. I think this may be the darkest of Pierce’s novels to date. There’s truly no way to explore a theme of war and conquest without going a bit dark, but Pierce handles the subject with sensitivity to her audience. While the wrongness comes through, it isn’t so graphic that incidents overpower the entirety of the novel.
As with all really good books, the plot of Battle Magic is layered with subplots, making a richer tapestry for the reader. Battle Magic contains not only war and evil, but sections devoted to the growth of Briar and Evvy. Even Rosethorn, who seems much too old for personal growth, has a spiritual quest that must be completed by her and her alone. Additionally there are numerous likable and very disagreeable (and even downright evil) secondary characters that are so well-drawn that I need a new designation - something between primary and secondary - to describe them.
Battle Magic is a different style of book than the first novels Pierce wrote for teens, though she has never shied away from the darkness of life. I always enjoy her novels because I get pulled into her world so thoroughly. Sometimes that means celebrating with characters, other times it means shedding a few tears with them. In Battle Magic I did both. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who wants to lose themselves in a fantasy realm for a few hours.
Pierce, Tamora. Battle Magic. New York: Scholastic, Inc. 2013