Series wrap-up: The Immortals by Tamora Pierce

Once again, I need to thank my amazing daughter for her never-flagging enthusiasm for Tamora Pierce and the world of Tortall. After seeing her obsession with these books, starting in her tweens and continuing into adulthood, past college and grad school, I just knew my involvement was inevitable. I re-read (and loved) the Alanna series over the summer (see my thoughts, here), and thanks to a reading-order list supplied by my helpful daughter, I decided to continue onward.

So, following the list, my next stop on the Tortall adventure was The Immortals, another quartet, set roughly a decade after the end of the Alanna books. The Immortals introduces new characters, settings, and challenges, but retains the familiar Tortall at its center and keeps some familiar faces in the mix — although it’s decidedly odd to see our previous teen hero, Alanna, through the eyes of a younger girl, so that Alanna is viewed as an accomplished, brave, grown-up. (Which she is, but it’s a big jump from hearing the story through her teen voice.)

The story of The Immortals:

In book #1, Wild Magic, we meet Daine (full name Veralidaine Sarrasri — isn’t that gorgeous?). Daine is a young girl of about 13, orphaned after raiders killed her mother, who signs on as an assistant to the horse trainer who supplies horses to the Queen’s Riders, an elite fighting force serving the kingdom of Tortall. Daine has an unusual skill with animals of all sorts. When she meets the mage Numair, she learns that it’s not just a skill — it’s magic. Wild magic, to be specific, a rare and unusual gift that allows her to connect with animals and speak with them mind to mind. Later on, as she learns to use and expand her magic, she’s even able to inhabit animals and shape-shift at will, giving her powers that enable her to triumph in the most dangerous of situations.

Daine becomes a key player in the kingdom, working with the King’s forces and range of allies to combat enemies who wish to overthrow him. In book #2, Wolf-Speaker, a fiefdom within Tortall has taken disturbing steps to shield themselves from the rest of the kingdom, using the mining of unusual gems to establish a magical connection with the Emperor Ozorne of Carthak. And in book #3, Emperor Mage, Daine travels to Carthak with a Tortallian delegation to negotiate peace between the nations, only to find herself enmeshed in the Emperor’s sinister schemes.

Finally, in book #4, The Realms of the Gods, there’s the ultimate showdown between Tortall and Ozorne, although Daine and Numair spend much of it literally in another world, having been brought into the realms of the gods for their own protection. Much of the 4th book is spent on Daine and Numair’s quest to find a way back to their own world, in order to fight alongside their friends and defeat Ozorne once and for all.

 

I really and truly enjoyed this series, although (and I hate to say it), the fourth book was somewhat weak in comparison to the earlier three. I love Daine as a character: She’s fierce, talented, and strong. We see her development from a young girl who’s been wounded by life, full of guilt and self-doubt, into a young adult with the confidence to use and control her gift, but who never abuses her own power. She’s devoted to the animal world and respects all creatures, coming to understand that even animals that humans find repellant have a purpose and a right to their lives. Daine is a loyal friend, who loves unconditionally and pursues what she feels is right, even at risk to her own life.

My problem with the 4th book is right there in the title. By removing Daine and Numair to the realms of the gods, too much of the book is spent with them outside of the central arena of the story so far. They’re isolated, encountering new beings and places on their quest to return home. This takes them out of Tortall for way too much of the story, so that they’re only there for the final showdown. Yes, while in the realms of the gods, Daine learns important facts about her parentage and her own powers, but it’s not a great way to wrap up the series.

 

 

 

I can’t talk about these books without mentioning the amazing animals and gods Daine befriends. There’s Skysong, also known as Kitten, an orphaned baby dragon whom Daine rescues and raises; the badger god, who becomes Daine’s patron and mentor; Tkaa, the basilisk, a strong ally; Cloud, Daine’s pony, and so many more. Because Daine can converse with animals, we get to know all of these as people with their own minds and attitudes, and it’s quite fun and fascinating to see how the author chooses to portray them.

 

 

I listened to the audiobooks — such a treat! The Immortals was recorded by Full Cast Audio, who specialize in full-cast recordings of children’s books. Tamora Pierce herself serves as narrator for the series, and each character gets his or her own voice actor. This was a bit of an adjustment for me at first, as I’m not used to listening to audiobooks with more than a single narrator. Once I got into it, though, it was really a great experience. I particularly loved the voices for Daine and Numair, but also really enjoyed the voices used for their animal and immortal friends.

The Immortals was a terrific listen and a great adventure, and I will absolutely be continuing with my Tortallian quest! Next up (after a pause to catch up on some other audiobooks) — the Protector of the Small series!

_________________________________

Book details:

Wild Magic – published 1992
Wolf-Speaker – published 1993
Emperor Mage – published 1994
The Realms of the Gods – published 1996

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18 thoughts on “Series wrap-up: The Immortals by Tamora Pierce

  1. I’m happy you liked the books so much 🙂

    But I have to agree with you about the last book. I was waiting for Daine to leave the realms of the gods as well!

    All in all though, it was a lot of fun and all the animals made it even better 🙂 I am a big fan of animal companions.

    • I really love all the conversations between Daine and the animals, and the fact that she and they refer to them as the people, as opposed to the two-leggers.

  2. I think I’ve read every Tamara Pierce book to this day. I started back in middle-school, and I’m now nearing my 30s. I’m crossing my fingers that this is one of the many series that Netflix picks up and turns into a fantasy tv show, because that would be pretty epic to watch!
    Mercedes Lackey is my other automatic go-to author. Both of these female authors have so much world-building, it’s astounding. Mercedes Lackey also deals with animals and magical abilities, in case you weren’t aware, and her stories generally have some LGBT characters, though there are some darker scenes in them too.

    • Ooh, a Netflix series would be amazing! There’s so much great world-building, and the characters really are terrific. I’ve never read any Mercedes Lackey, although she’s been recommended to me more times than I can count. Where would you recommend starting for a newbie? She has so many books that I don’t quite know what to read!

      • She is quite the prolific author, I agree. I hope to one day have at least half as many books published as she does! (Currently I have none, sadly.)
        If you want to start in order, I can provide the link to the recommended reading order list on her website. It’s very detailed, and helpful for newbies.
        Or if you want a personalized suggestion, I have two of them. I warn you however: the first one is quite dark, angsty, and has multiple triggers such rape, abuse, child abuse, harsh language, and even attempted suicide. It’s the first trilogy in the long tales of the Valdemar books (my favorites by Mercedes Lackey) and my first experience reading gay characters in fiction when I was a young teen. It tells the tale of Vanyel and how he wants, more than anything, to be a Bard like from the stories. And it progresses from there. I can give you a more detailed warning label, if you need it.
        The second I recommend is NOT set in Valdemar, but I still love the series that started out as a trilogy but has expanded into now six/seven? books and may still be going is The Obsidian Trilogy. It’s got demons, unicorns, magical spellbooks that can hide themselves, and also some really cool magic. It’s a bit more adult, and eventually also may have trigger scenes-there’s demons involved, so it does get fairly dark too.
        Let me know if you need more information on both, and I’ll be happy to help! =) I hope these warnings don’t deter you away, because even though they’re dark, they’re still very well worth reading!

  3. It’s great that you enjoyed the books. I’ll be starting the second one soonish. When I read these books in my teens, I felt the same about the fourth novel – that it’s not as great as the others. I can’t recall why I thought so because I liked that they got to visit the realm of the gods. Back then, the third book was my fav.

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