Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Devotees of Tamora Pierce's The Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets will welcome back Sandry and her friends from Winding Circle-Daja, Tris and Briar-in The Will of the Empress. Here the Empress of Namorn, older cousin to Lady Sandrilene fa Toren, attempts to virtually imprison Sandry in Namorn and marry her off to a noble. Can Sandry count on her friends (and their special talents), in spite of how estranged they have become? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-Noblewoman Sandry and her foster siblings Tris, Daja and Briar, must contend with The Will of the Empress (Scholastic, 2005). Working with a well-chosen cast, author Tamora Pierce narrates this extension of her two fantasy series, "The Circle of Magic" and "The Circle Opens." After two years apart, the four gifted magicians are often at odds, but they share the desire to use their unique talents to prove themselves as adults. Their visit to Sandry's estates brings them to Empress Berenene's kingdom where the ruler intends to marry Sandry off, acquire the young woman's lands, and draw the three other young mages into her service. Confronted by Sandry's abduction by a disgruntled suitor and challenged to escape the Empress's domination, the four bring together their weather, metal, nature, and stitching skills to triumph over all. The novel's misunderstood madman, cousins, courtiers, and commoners are nicely portrayed by a cast of 22, and Pierce's narration adds a special dimension to this well-done recording. Appropriate music opens and closes each CD. Issues such as sexual identity and personal independence are seamlessly woven into the rich fabric of the fantasy, making this title a solid choice for high school and public libraries.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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 2005 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Middle School) Now sixteen and beginning to think of their futures, the four mages of Pierce's Circle Quartet are reunited after their separate travels (recounted in the Circle Opens series). Briar, Tris, and Daja escort Sandry on a visit to her estates in Namorn, but the powerful empress of Namorn has plans to make all four of them remain there under her control -- and she's not used to taking no for an answer. As the court intrigue unfolds (the empress sics several suitors on Sandry in order to keep her in Namorn; Daja surprises herself by falling in love with the empress's wardrobe mistress), the familiar characters demonstrate why they're so popular with tween readers: gruff exteriors invariably hide tender hearts; strays are always collected and cared for; friendship and loyalty triumph over riches and position (but riches and position come along anyway). Although the foursome's eventual escape is never in doubt, Pierce has some fresh surprises regarding each mage's powers, and through danger and repose she keeps the story rolling merrily along. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.