My thanks to Harper Collins UK and NetGalley for a review copy of this one.
While I’d heard of Tamora Pierce’s books, I didn’t really know what genre she wrote in, but when I noticed these books on NetGalley, and the description, a fantasy which involved a girl who could communicate with animals, I decided to put in a request. Wild Magic, the first of this quartet (the Immortals) was first published in 1992. This is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl, Daine (Veralidaine Sarrasi), who doesn’t have the “Gift”, magic that the rest of her family and community has but has the power to communicate with animals, to the extent that they do as she asks, though at times, they even put themselves in danger to help her as well. She herself however, doesn’t seem to consider that at par with the others’ magic. After her family is killed, she leaves her home and takes up employment with Onua, horsemistress to the Queen’s Riders, female knights and riders who ride with the Queen of Tortall. Here among her new friends, her talents are appreciated and she finds love and acceptance, but she is carrying a secret about her past which she is reluctant to reveal. Her new friends including the mage Numair Salmalin, begin to help her understand her true powers and the wild magic that she has and get some measure of control over it. When they find themselves under attack by enemy forces, which include not only mages but mythical monsters who were believed to be trapped in another realm for some centuries, it falls to Daine to come to the rescue of her new friends.
While the plot of this book sounded interesting, I was a little sceptical about reading it since it is more or less a full-blown fantasy, and at times I find these difficult to wrap my head around. However, I needn’t have been worried,because I got into the story almost immediately and didn’t feel lost or struggling to understand the world or how it worked at any point. The first two characters we meet, Daine, and Onua I took to immediately, and the others we meet in the Kingdom of Tortall were very likeable as well. It was fun seeing Daine’s bewilderment (more than that, the fact that she spoke out her thoughts)in a world where the people don’t seem to behave as they’re supposed to—the nobles aren’t haughty but just like any “normal person”, the power structures don’t seem to work as she expects them to, and more than that everyone is welcoming. Things in this world are far from stereotypical, especially as far as the gender roles are concerned, which was good to see. I could also really connect with Daine because I could relate to her feelings vis-à-vis animals which were very similar to my own and I wished I could have her powers to communicate with them as well. Plus, at times of trouble, the heartbreak and gut-wrenching feelings that she goes through for her animal friends was something I could understand.The story which is obviously only the first of many challenges that Daine and her friends will face was fairly enjoyable as well, giving us the back stories of the characters and the idea of the problem/battle that is unfolding. I can’t wait to read on to the next instalment and see how the story progresses and what lies ahead for the characters. Very enjoyable read, of which my favourite element was the animals and Daine’s friendship with them. Four and a half stars.