Mark Reads ‘Battle Magic’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of Battle Magic, IS THIS WHAT I THINK IT IS??? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start Battle Magic

Oh my god, I WAS WRONG ON A LEVEL THAT IS UNPRECEDENTED. Is this not true? If the clues provided here are any indication of the setting of this book, THEN I AM SO TERRIBLY, HORRIBLY WRONG.

Briar moss was the older of the two, sixteen and a fully accredited mage of the Living Circle school in Emelan.

Sixteen? Sixteen??? That means this takes place TWO YEARS BEFORE THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS. Initially, I just thought I was confused as I usually am, but NOPE. I truly read this correctly, and IT DOES NOT TAKE PLACE AFTER MELTING STONES.

After nearly two years in Evvy’s company, Briar knew limestone when he held it.

Two years. Oh my god, what is Tamora Pierce doing to me??? It’s an interesting choice for a novel, but I don’t even know if this entire book will take place during one period of time. What if it jumps around? What if there’s a reason we’re seeing this? Is this really a full explanation of what happened during the war against the Yanjing emperor???


Neat piles of broken stone grew from the falling rock on either side of the rectangular gap int he cliff. At its heart stood a pair of embracing, human-like, stone skeletons. As the heaped boulders and chips in front of them shifted to either side, the twenty-foot-tall skeletons walked out of the cliff.


Briar was almost afraid to breathe until the younger boy blinked and straightened. Rubbing the back of his neck he looked at Briar sheepishly. “Did I go off? They never give me any warning, you know. I’ve told them and told them that it frightens people when they grab me, but gods and spirits don’t really understand fear.”

How many Tamora Pierce books have I read at this point? 25 or so? And here we are, in the final book of hers that I’m reading for this site, AND SHE CAN STILL SURPRISE ME. We’ve got a form of stone magic in a religious ritual that’s responsible for the massive stone statues in Gyongxe. We’ve got an eleven-year-old king who ROUTINE CHANNELS THE ELEVEN GODS OF GYONGXE. Just randomly!!! Oh my god, this is so exciting because it’s so strange.

However, it’s very clear that the events of this book are going to be leading to the inevitable. Unlike every single book I’ve read, I know the ending. I know major plot pots. I know the Yanjing empire wages war against Gyongxe, practically everyone dies, Evvy finds Luvo at some point, Evvy is tortured, and EVERYTHING IS THE WORST THING IMAGINABLE. It’s nerve-wracking! When the God-King speaks of not hearing from the king of Inxia, it made me nervous. That’s the start of this, isn’t it? As Briar points out, “…if Inxia falls, Gyongxe is next.”

OH GOD, IT’S ALREADY NEXT, ISN’T IT? I’m utterly fascinated by this because I’ve never really read a book like this for the site, have I? If it truly sticks with this plot the whole time, then this is the first time I’m getting a book-long flashback. It’s kind of cool all by itself, and I love that I get to see Briar bicker and fight with Evvy. IT’S SO ENTERTAINING. I feel it’s also a little strange because Melting Stones gave us such a huge development for Evvy, and now we’ve rewinded two years, and she’s back to who she used to be. She’s still entertaining, but it’s a very jarring experience.

Regardless, I’m already curious what sort of things Pierce will do to surprise me. I felt a parallel to The Will of the Empress when Rosethorn read the invitation to visit the emperor’s palace and gardens. Oh god, I already can’t wait to re-read that book after I’m done this one, as I imagine it’ll shed more light on the emotional context of Briar’s behavior. But what exactly will cause Emperor Weishu to turn on them? When does the chase begin? Oh my god, I’m already nervous, AND I’VE ONLY READ 22 PAGES.

What is wrong with this book.


Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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