Reading this book I felt thirteen years old all over again: Daine's uncertainty, awkwardness around men in their twenties, useless frustrating tears. Oh how I remember! It can be a dubious pleasure to revisit this age, but Tamora Pierce makes it so darn exciting. I was worried that I wouldn't get the same pleasure from Pierce's books this time around, but I needn't have worried. I had a ball.
Wild Magic is set about a decade after the end of the Song of the Lioness quartet. Alanna, star of this earlier series, is all grown up. She features heavily in this book, as does Queen Thayet. Alanna has paved the way for women warriors, but there is a heavier focus on magic in these books than the earlier quartet (if I remember correctly; it's been even longer since I read the Alanna books). Daine and Numair are two of my favourite Pierce characters. They're funny and sweet together, have a great scenes--and I make no secret of the fact that I have a big dirty crush on the tall, dark and handsome mage. "Stork-man", as Daine's pony calls him.
This isn't so much a review as a gush: I could sooner chew off my left arm than say bad things about this book. I loved reading it again! If your unfamiliar with the world in which Pierce sets her novels, you could start with The Immortals, but preferably with the Song of the Lioness quartet and learn about the history behind Alanna, Jonathan, the King of Thieves and all the other characters, not to mention the complex world Pierce has created. The first book is Alanna: The First Adventure.
This is one of my many favourite scenes in Wild Magic, early on when Daine's still learning and everyone's a bit twitchy because of all the Immortals crashing around:
Thayet yelled, trying to get Daine's attention. Daine turned, but before she could answer a heavy form slammed into her. Down she went, mouth filling with brine. Trying to rise, she was slammed again and thrust deeper into the water by the animal's impact. She opened her mouth to scream, and breathed seawater.
Miri and Evin later said she popped into the air to hang upside down from an unseen hand, pouring water as she fought ... Then the hands that weren't there whisked her to the beach where Onua waited with a blanket. Daine was put gently on her feet, but her knees gave.
Numair strode down the beach towards them, his face like a thundercloud. Black fire shot with white light gathered around his outstretched hand. Sarge grabbed a quiver of javelins, Buri her double-curved bow. Both raced to attack the brown creature lumbering up onto the shore.
Daine saw them just in time. "No don't!" She threw herself in front of the animal. "Don't!" she screeched when fire left Numair's fingers, flying at them. He twisted his hand, and it vanished.
The Immortals quartet was published between 1992 and 1996 and isWild Magic, Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage and The Realms of the Gods.
Now go. Go and read them.