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The Will of the Empress Paperback – Oct 1 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; Reprint edition (Oct. 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439441722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439441728
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #306,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up–This novel begins two years after the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series. Readers are reintroduced to the four characters who made the other series so popular: Sandry, who has worked at her uncle's these past two years; Tris, who has developed a new power that she is afraid to share; Daja, who immediately renews her link with Sandry; and Briar, who is afraid to open up because of his memories of the war. Sandry still holds the circle that binds these four individuals together, creating a strong whole out of four very diverse parts. When the book opens, they refuse to reopen the link that has made them stronger due to changes in their lives. Sandry discovers that the lands she holds for the Empress will be given away unless she returns home. Her uncle talks her friends into accompanying her. She hopes to visit her lands and leave by fall, but the Empress has other plans for her, including marriage. After the Empress meets her friends, she devises plans to keep them all. Readers will enjoy being reacquainted with these older but still very well-developed characters. This book stands alone, but readers unfamiliar with the earlier books will be asking for them after finishing this one.–June H. Keuhn, Corning East High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 8-11. How well word-mage Pierce understands what her audience wants, and how ably she provides it in this epic postscript to her two Circle quartets. Powers in full flush after stints of wayfaring, precocious ambient mages Daja, Briar, and Tris have finally reunited with left-behind Sandry. But nothing is quite what it was, and the 16-year-olds begin to question their telepathic connection: "As adults, we keep our minds and our secrets hidden, and our wounds. It's safer." It will take a common foe to shake the cobwebs from this partnership. Pierce provides a formidable one in Namorn's charismatic empress, who does battle with silken weapons of courtly politics to compel the mages to live and serve in Sandry's native land. Subplots deepen characterizations in ways reflective of the teens'increasing maturity: Daja discovers she is a "woman who loves women"; Sandry must confront her high-born heritage and stave off forced marriage by means of an archaic bride-stealing custom. A few threads seem to dangle in ways that cloth-mage Sandry would scorn, but little will deter readers from reveling in the elemental magics, or from sympathizing with the prickly young adults'nostalgia for the easy companionships of childhood. A standalone tour de force, this will gratify Circle devotees and ensnare new readers for the series. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This review is specifically for the audiobook but I will also talk about some of story.

Plot synopsis: Sandry has to deal with some diplomatic issue in a foreign country and is reunited with her mage foster sisters and brother. They have to overcome their flaws and differences again to defeat an unknown enemy.

Audiobook: Characters are voiced by different actors and the story is narrated by the author, Tamora Pierce. Tamora Pierce slowly articulates her words which may be too slow and dry sounding to some. The character's voices are slightly exaggerated in a stage theater style. Overall, a good production.

Plot review:

The characters and settings are distinct in the usual Tamora Pierce style. She creates tension and suspense very well through her narration but sometimes tension sounds forced through dialogue. Sometimes it the solution is obvious to the reader but characters are blinded by anger. There are interesting lines of dialogue as well as corny lines.

The 4 foster siblings have a realistic companionship along with all the sibling infighting. After a long line of fleshed out heroines, it is always a pleasure to have some male heroes from Pierce, namely Briar Moss, who is dealing with some sort of post traumatic stress.

Politics are in the forefront of the plot, and PierceAs the child mages mature, so do their hormones develop. There are multiple relationship subplots, but sex is only hinted at. This should be suitable for all ages.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was so amazing. The details that she uses when describing people are great. You find yourself hating someone one minute and the next liking them. There are interesting adventures that await the four. Adventures that are unique only to Tamora Pierce. This book is my favorite of the "Circle" books so far. It's a wonderful read. Enjoy.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent story line and easy to follow. Perhaps future books will continue this story line I would recommend this book,.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9a8a8978) out of 5 stars 107 reviews
117 of 125 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b27a510) out of 5 stars AMAZING! April 27 2005
By Bianca Muller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I work at a bookstore so I got an advance copy of this book. I read it in one sitting. This is just so amazing. Tamora is writing toward an older audience in this book (more like how the Alanna books are written if not a bit older). All four of them have grown up, and it shows in how they act toward each other and other people. I learned some new things about Lark and Rosethorn, that I guess I was just oblivious to previously. Its so frustrating reading about them not getting along in the beginning. Each of them is afraid of admitting what they did before (in the Circle Opens books). Its painful seeing them fight. But when they make up, of course they have to, its wonderful. Its hilarious seeing them astound adults with what they can do. Its touching seeing them stand up for each other and really watch out for each other.

This book brings new characters and developes the old ones much more. I can't even begin to explain everything that happens, and it would ruin it for you anyways. This book is amazing. If you like any of Tamora Pierce's books, you'll like this one. Even if you didn't like the first set of books or the Circle Opens book, you'll like this one. If you have never read any Tamora Pierce before, I strongly suggest reading the first 8 books before this one. You'll get a lot more out of it if you have watched the characters grow up and grow together.

So read this book when it comes out. You'll be missing out if you don't.
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b27a564) out of 5 stars Flawed, but it keeps you reading Jan. 12 2006
By Liz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had to really think about what rating to give this. On one hand the book is very flawed but on the other, I didn't want to put it down.

Just as a bit of a disclaimer, I do know that this particular series by Tamora Pierce is not geared towards my age group, and that's likely part of the problem. But as with her continuing _Lioness_ series, this latter book is much more readable to the older audience.

So, the adventures of Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar continue as the latter three return from their travels to discover that, once reunited, they've grown apart. It's a bit of a shock to them, but not to any of the readers who are over 18 (the age of our protagonists) or have spent any significant time away from close friends. As people grow, age and experience life, they change, and it's hard to reconnect with people who haven't had those same experiences, especially if they were traumatic. And all of them, Sandry included, have experienced their share of trauma.

Their ways of dealing with it set them even more apart. Sandry retreats into her "titled noble" facade, Tris has her own cold and remote mask to hide behind, Briar goes through woman after woman with no attachment to any of them, just so he doesn't have to be alone at night. Daja is the best adjusted of the group, but she's feeling out of place as well. No longer allowed to stay at Winding Circle for free due to their age, she's forced to buy a house of her own that she really didn't want. Nothing's at all the same for the four friends and none of them know how to deal with it.

But, of course, a solution arrives in the form of accompanying Sandry to Namorn for a visit that her cousin, Empress Berenene has practically ordered (financial blackmail). The reader already knows that it's not likely to be a trouble free visit and what they go through up in Namorn will forge them together as friends again, but even knowing that, the story is entertaining enough to make you want to stay with it.

What follows is no surprise at all. A glittery, shiny court and a seemingly friendly empress-cousin, which is, of course, little more than a shiny facade covering up all the conniving, scheming and backstabbing you'd expect in a setting like that. It's something that takes the four friends a bit too long to grasp, to my way of thinking, given how worldly some of them are. Oh, Briar thinks he knows, but he still allows himself to be snowed over by the extensive gardens and greenhouses.

Anyone who reads the inside flap of the book knows that the empress wants to marry Sandry off and thus, keep her lands and money for Namorn (herself, really), so when Sandry finally realizes that, it's, again, no surprise to the reader. Still, Sandry does try to make the best of it, as do her friends, even while they're still in-fighting.

One pleasant development in the book is Daja's romance. It was something that had been hinted around but seeing it actually happen definitely put a smile on my face.

Of course, it all comes together when Sandry is put in danger and needs her friends to rescue her. Then all arguments are thrown aside and they band together to get her out of there and themselves out of Namorn. Not that the road out is smooth (big surprise), but it's nothing four genius mages can't handle, and, once again, nothing the reader didn't expect.

One of the major flaws in the book, the biggest, I'd say, is that every single piece of the plot is spoon fed to the reader. Every major and minor character's view point is shown at some time in the narration, so there's never any surprise when something happens, you always know it's coming. Absolutely nothing is left to the imagination, and there's no build up of mystery or suspense; you always know what will happen, and given who these four are, you always know they'll find a way out. It's a major weak point and if Ms. Pierce had stayed with only the viewpoints of the four mages, she might have had a much, *much* stronger book.

That said, it's still an entertaining story, even knowing everything that will happen. It doesn't get boring and although you already know that the four mages will find a way out of whatever predicament they're currently in, you still want to stick around and see how they do it.
36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b27a99c) out of 5 stars Good with a few notable flaws. Sept. 30 2005
By S. J. Hawrysko - Published on
Format: Hardcover
***Note: There are spoilers in this review***

I have long been an avid reader and fan of Tamora Pierce's books, at least until Trickster's Choice came along. That book was enough to cause me to not have even the slightest interest in reading its sequel. However, I did look forward to The Will of the Empress and hearing from Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar again.

For the most part, The Will of the Empress didn't dissapoint me as much as Trickster's Choice did. I particularly enjoyed seeing how realistic they are as adults; their travels have caused them to have secrets they no longer want to share in the once very open bond they shared through their magical connection.

The four mages have several new personality traits that were not as apparent in their younger days, with the possible exception of Sandry (she remains the noble-minded, perfect, "let's all be friends"-type character she always was). Tris, for example, became even more irritable and sometimes downright nasty to everyone. Briar, however, became exactly the way you could predict for a young man around 18 years or so: he was very flirtatious and apparently with quite a developed reputation with the ladies. As for Daja, I hadn't thought she was much different, until a scene where she kissed another female nearly made me fall out of my chair. I hadn't expected Tamora to be so open about one of her characters being a lesbian (in the past, she usually just drops a few hints here and there, like with Rosethorn and Lark), so this was quite surprising.

One flaw of the book was that if you've read Tamora Pierce's other books, you would see many obvious similarities to other books in her series. For example, Sandry hired a maid that had been badly abused, in a scene that struck me as suspiciously similar to the chapter in Lady Knight where Keladry hires Tobe. And did anyone else notice the Empress's extreme similarity to Emperor Ozorne from the Immortals series? The chapter with her touring the green houses with Briar struck me as nearly identical to the chapter of Daine touring the bird sanctuary with Ozorne. In both cases, Briar and Daine were charmed by the Emperor/Empress and their seemingly good heart concerning animals/plants. I wasn't impressed at all by the Empress, or her so-called strong will, either.

The book also had far too many kidnappings and mentions of kidnappings. By the end of the book, there were no less than three kidnap attempts on Sandry. If it were me, I'd have been out of there with the first attempt (this one didn't progress much past the threatening stage, but it still would have been enough), but Sandry remained quite unconcerned until the second (she DID try to leave after that one, fortunately).

The climax of the book was very long and drawn out, involving the four mages trying to leave Namorn and being stopped by the Empress's mages, accidents that nearly killed them, and yes, yet another kidnapping. I was starting to wonder at this point if the Empress wanted to keep the mages there out of pure spite, because if they were indeed forced to stay, I can't imagine they'd be willing to just settle down and live happily in Namorn after all of that nonsense.

To conclude, I do recommend this book to people who are a fan of the Circle of Magic and Circle Opens series, because it does tell us very nicely of who the characters have become, and what they can achieve. It is a nice conclusion to their story. The book does keep you interested and doesn't introduce too many new characters that will leave your head spinning with trying to remember them all (an excellent example of this would be Trickster's Choice, but I digress). The flaws I mentioned are really not enough to make you throw down the book in disgust or anything, so overall, the book is quite good.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b27ad5c) out of 5 stars The Empress Fails to Impress May 19 2006
By Arthur W Jordin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Will of the Empress (2005) is the ninth volume in the Circle series. These novels relate the stories of four young ambient mages: Sandrilene fa Toren, Daja Kisubo, Trisana Chandler and Briar Moss. In the Circle of Magic quartet, these youngsters were rescued from distressing situations by the great mage Niklaren Goldeye, who recognized their talents and arranged for them to be trained at Winding Circle. Living together in Discipline Cottage, they learned to control and apply their inherent magics and developed very close relationships. These mages were granted their Medallions at the most unusual age of thirteen.

In the Circle Opens quartet, three mages -- Briar, Daja and Tris -- accompanied their mentors on separate wanderings while Sandry remained behind at the Citadel to help her uncle the Duke. All of them encountered both good and bad circumstances, but they also improved their magical abilities and social skills. After several delays, the three travelers returned to Summersea.

In this novel, Sandry impatiently awaits the return of the wandering mages. They have been out of range of her mental communications for some time and are very much overdue. The Duke is also awaiting their return.

As the wandering mages gradually come back to Summersea, they gather at Number 6 Cheeseman Street, where Daja has rented a house with attached forge. After all have returned, the Duke visits to ask that one or more of them accompany Sandry to Namorn to visit her estates. She has been under increasing pressure by the Empress of Namorn to visit there, but she should not take too many guardsmen with her lest the Empress be angered by the apparent lack of trust. However, her fellow mages could provide sufficient protection.

All volunteer to go with her and they travel with a Trader caravan to Dancruan, the capital of Namorn. Despite her lack of entourage, Sandry soon settles into the formalities of the court. But the Empress completely ignores Sandry's desire to return to Emelan at the end of the summer. Sandry gradually becomes aware that the Empress wants all three of them to remain in service to Namorn. The Empress has a strong will, but she badly underestimates these four mages.

In this novel, the three wanderers fail to resume mental communications with Sandry or each other. They all have reasons to keep their thoughts private, but this mental silence precludes the merging of their talents. The Empress is aware of their mental solitude and counts on it to further her plans for acquiring their services.

Briar has bad dreams of the war in Gyongxe and doesn't want to spread the horrible images (and smells) to his mates; he also resists the idea of consulting mind healers. Daja has bad images of her own that she doesn't want to share with her siblings. Tris just doesn't want them to know that she can see visions on the wind. Even Sandry has had some bad experiences. Each is afraid of rejection by the others, though such withheld images and thoughts are only significant to their fellows for the hurt they cause the possessor.

While these young mages retain their basic personalities, they also display some positive growth in self-esteem and social behavior. Even Tris shows some consideration of others. But only Briar has developed any skill at intersexual relations.

Although actions taken against these young mages are foreshadowed, the details of their reactions are often surprising and usually overwhelms the Empress. Even Ishabal Ladyhammer, the archmage, tries to tell the Empress that they may have overreached themselves. Yet hubris makes the Empress continue to work against Sandry and her magical siblings.

Highly recommended to Pierce fans and to anyone else who enjoys tales of court intrigues and magical talents.

-Arthur W. Jordin
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b27ae40) out of 5 stars Lacking in areas, but not a complete waste of time. March 27 2006
By Diana M. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Tamora Pierce brilliantly realized that the audience that was with her in the original Circle of Magic books grew up. As a result, not only have the characters grown up, but the books is definitely, definitely geared toward an older audience.

The book doesn't take long to read. Unfortunately, that isn't a compliment. Parts are a struggle to get through, tedious and predictable. You keep going, however (a point in Pierce's favor) because despite the fact you can easily predict most of the outcomes, you still want to see how the characters go about doing what you know they'll do.

Sandry's struggling to keep her freedom in a country where the Empress is determined to keep the wealth of the richest heiress in the country. It's a clearly political theme, where Pierce champions women's rights. I agree with the need to do so, but her male (key word, male) villains are lackluster and uninspired. You dislike them, but there's nothing to make you remember even the horrible things they did- they're two-dimensional and forgettable. Even Sandry herself seems to lack what made her so lovable in the earlier books. She has traces of the vibrant character she was, but she slips off into a less likable persona throughout this book- a sort of character devolution. Empress Berenene is the only `villain' that makes you actually think, whose reasons for doing what she does at least have reasons behind them rather than stupidity and greed and a desire to make life difficult for traveling mages.

Briar, Tris and Daja are, of course, along for the ride. They all four returned from their various adventures (which, especially in the case of Briar, go rather beyond just the ones in the Circle Opens series) to discover they're too old to stay in Discipline, and have to go move elsewhere. They do so, and shortly after, are called to Namorn by Empress Berenene. Tris and Daja don't get as much time as Briar and Sandry, but it is nice to see the four characters at least in the same book together. Tris has become guarded and cold(er), and there is a clear set-up for her future (meaning Pierce has told us what the next book will be about). Daja's character takes a few...interesting turns, some of which are quite surprising, but at least unexpected.

Briar is the character I have always loved most, and in this area, Pierce did not disappoint. For me, his character and actions are what kept me from putting this book down. It isn't his story, but he plays some important roles.

You may not like some of the changes in the characters, but that's one of the interesting points this book has. The characters *themselves* don't like the changes in each other. You can see how they've drifted apart, to the point of purposely blocking the mental connection they had as kids. If nothing else, that fact will keep you reading- you want to keep going and try to see if they become close again.

The plot may trite and predictable, the clichés may be there, but it isn't a hopeless read. If you loved the characters from the earlier books, even a little, pick it up and try it. If you're like me, you'll be glad you did...but you'll be rather apathetic about whether or not you should wait anxiously for the next one to come out.