Meeting Old Friends, and New, in Tortall and Other Lands

When I did my end-of-year round-up of reading, I also mentioned the book I was most looking forward to in 2011: Tortall and Other Lands, by Tamora Pierce.  I finished it recently, and was pleased to find that it didn’t disappoint.

I admit I was a little worried about that “Other Lands” part of the title.  I was hoping she wouldn’t throw us one Tortall story, and then write about unfamiliar places for the rest of the collection.  But I should have had more faith–she gave us a great collection with a high number of stories in Tortall (or nearby countries), and the ones that were in other lands were good ones too.

The book is probably most appealing to people who already know Tortall, as several of the stories, especially the longest ones, revisit characters we’ve already met.  For fans of The Immortals series, Kitten the baby dragon gets her own story.  For fans of her Trickster series, we get to read a story about Nawat, Aly and their children.  Other stories feature minor characters from other books, or at least recognizable creatures–the Darkings, wonderful, funny inkblot-like creatures, are back in force.

The non-Tortall stories didn’t make a huge impression on me, but I remember them as enjoyable.  And how do you create a world as vivid in twenty pages as has been created in, let’s see, going on 18 books now.  Two of the stories, the last ones in the book, are set in the…well, I hate to say “real world” because it seems insulting to these other so vivid worlds, but let’s say the world you and I (I assume!) live in most of the time.  One was, I think, the first non-fantasy thing I’ve ever read by her–and I’ve read everything (really–I just checked her website bibliography to make sure!)  The other was a fantasy in the present-day, and darker than most.  A small warning that I think this one had an older target audience than most.

That story led me to an interesting observation on the distinction between Juvenile (or perhaps young YA) and higher level YA or adult fiction.  For the younger readers, people will still be shot by an arrow, but it will be in the shoulder, or just a vague, unmentioned place that may cause death.  In older-level books, you’re more apt to have someone be shot in the eye.  Or really any specific, gruesome location.  I never thought about that as a distinction before, but I think it’s true.

But I digress.  So watch out for “Huntress,” it’s dark.  And I highly recommend “Nawat” and “The Dragon’s Tale” and “Lost.”  And really all of the collection, but those three were my favorites.  And I enjoyed a little snippet of background on how Tamora Pierce wrote The Song of the Lioness quartet to begin with.

I would have loved a short story about Alanna, the heroine of The Song of the Lioness, but no such luck.  I’ve been hoping for a story about Alanna and her squire–they’re in The Protector of the Small series, and seem to have had wonderful adventures–but I’ll have to go on hoping for that.

No matter.  It’s a wonderful collection all the same.  If you’ve read my gushing earlier post about Tamora Pierce’s books, I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that I felt that way!  A fun note also–that best friend I mentioned in that post, who I met because we both were reading Tamora Pierce, loaned me Tortall and Other Lands.  So we’re both still reading her, almost ten years later.

Author’s Site:

…and Blog: Just discovered this while I was writing this review!  (I swear I’ve tried to find a blog by her in the past…) Kind of thrilled to discover it.  🙂  And to discover that she uses her cat as her avatar…

3 thoughts on “Meeting Old Friends, and New, in Tortall and Other Lands

  1. You’ve just reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read more Tamora Pierce for… four years now? I played around with a few of her books, really enjoyed the first two Alana stories, and just kind of quit when I got wrapped up in other things. I must remedy this.

    1. Yes, I thoroughly recommend reading more Tamora Pierce! At least finish the Alanna series, 3 and 4 are excellent. But really I don’t think you could go wrong with any Tortall book. 🙂

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