This review will cover the entire Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce.
About the Series: As young Daine finds love and acceptance among her new friends, she comes to accept and grow into her powers—powers she must use to defend her new home, the freedom-loving kingdom of Tortall. High Fantasy; Children’s & YA; published 1992-1996.
This series was one of my favorites, growing up, and it’s still a great choice for children and teens today. With its complete worldbuilding, unique magic, medieval action and winning characters—including a relatable and sensible young heroine—The Immortals quartet is one of Pierce’s best series (in my opinion, of course). I reread it recently and decided it was high time to write a review.
Strengths: (1) The best thing about Tamora Pierce’s three earliest Tortallan series (which I’ve always considered her strongest), is that each book builds up the Tortallan universe. Following Pierce’s debut series “Song of the Lioness,” this later series takes place in the same universe and is improved by the author’s growing experience. It boasts more carefully crafted worldbuilding and (2) more nuanced enemies. The whole cast of this series, in fact, is even stronger than that of the preceding series: Onua the horsemistress, the animals and even relatively minor characters such as Maura of Dunlath are pleasantly complex, as compared to the simpler background cast of Song of the Lioness. Numair Salmalin is my absolute favorite Pierce character of all time (which makes the news of his upcoming origins series REALLY VERY EXCITING).
Weakness: As is usual in Pierce’s early work (I haven’t read much of her later work), the plots are mostly contained in each book, instead of stretching across the entire series. However, being a character-driven reader, myself, I don’t mind; questions of character—such as the mystery of Daine’s father—tie the books together just fine for me. The openness also leaves room for further installments.
Overall: The Immortals series is one of my favorite female-driven fantasies of all time.
Recommendation: Good for anyone, including adults who enjoy fantasy—but especially great for children and teens.
For those interested, here are premises and ratings of each of the four books:
(I) Wild Magic: Thirteen year old Daine learns how to defend her new home—and her new friends—using the wild magic that once threatened her sanity. *****
(II) Wolf-Speaker: New danger threatens Daine’s animal and human families, and she responds with greater powers than anyone realized possible. ***
(III) Emperor Mage: When the Emperor of Carthak threatens Daine’s kingdom and friends, she fights back with the help and vengeance of the gods. Along the way, she learns something important about herself and her “Da.” *****
(IV) The Realms of the Gods: When Daine and her teacher, Numair, are transported into the immortal realms during a fierce battle, they journey home through many dangers just in time to defend Tortall against Carthak and its allies. ****