Eleven short stories make up Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales. The promotional blurb for the book claims the tales are made up of “unknown characters as well as old friends.” However, as it’s been awhile since I've read most of Pierce’s novels, my description is “naggingly familiar characters and characters I hope are new ‘cause otherwise my memory is letting me down more than usual.” Fortunately a good memory is not necessary. Pierce is a talented writer who has always been able to pull me into her world and it appears to be no different in her short story writing.
I won’t talk about all eleven of the stories, but I do want to mention my favorites. Student of Ostriches is the story of a girl who learned to be a warrior by watching the animals of the great plains as she herded goats. The Dragon’s Tale finally gives voice to Skysong/Kitten, Daine’s young dragon ward. The tale is told from Kitten’s point of view, and being inside her head is a wonderful and enlightening experience. In Plain Magic, Tonya learns that magic, and dragons, are rarely what they seem. Mimic was another dragon tale, but not in the way you might think. This story exemplifies Pierce's incredibly skillful use of anthropomorphism. Huntress, though it was not my favorite, brought Tortall into contemporary times, overlapping the two worlds and threading their plots together.
This book has been on my reading list since it came out in 2011, and I'm so glad I finally made time to lose myself in it. I still prefer Pierce’s full-length novels to this collection of short stories - mostly because I want to stay in Tortall as long as possible whenever I visit - but this was a nice side trip while I await her next novel. Overall it was a quick read, and one I recommend to anyone who has been to Tortall or is thinking of traveling there in the future.
Pierce, Tamora. Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales. New York: Rndom House, 2011. 4 Stars.