My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I REALLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK. And I’m not going to do blanket content warnings since it’s a bunch of short stories. Instead I’ll give you individual warnings. I’m also going to try to review each story independently.
Student of Ostriches:
Content warnings: fighting, slight misogyny.
I REALLY REALLY REALLY enjoyed this story. I adore the idea of a young girl learning how to fight by watching animals and adapting their styles to her own body. And then fighting for her sister’s honour against a boy who wants to sully her name by saying she bewitched him into marrying her. That’s really ALL I can say without spoiling it. But it’s a great story of if you’re determined enough and put your mind to it, you can do anything.
Content warnings: violence, sight misogyny, religious fanaticism
This story goes along with Wolf-Speaker (the second book of The Immortals quartet). IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK, SKIP THE REST OF MY THOUGHTS ON THIS STORY BECAUSE SLIGHT SPOILERS. This story takes place after the mage battle in which Numair has turned the other mage into a tree. He’s told Daine that by doing so it’s turned a tree into a human. This is the short story about the tree being turned into a human. It shows the cruelty of human nature towards each other especially when one is poorer and not as skilled as others. It also shows how the smallest acts of kindness can forge great friendships and help people out. I’m not going to spoil more of it than I have but it’s really good.
The Hidden Girl:
Content warnings: violence mention, religious fanaticism, slight misogyny.
This story kind of goes along with Elder Brother. Some of the events that have happened in Elder Brother are explained from a different viewpoint in this story. In fact, if you haven’t read Elder Brother because of the spoilers for Wolf-Speaker this will still make perfect sense. This story shows just how skewed religion can be presented to keep specific people in power and others not in power.
Content warnings: violence, mentions of defecation
I almost want to say that this needs a warning for cultural elitism because that kind of happens but I’m not entirely comfortable saying that. It is there though. In which on culture (the crow culture) finds themselves to be better than the other culture (the human culture). Huge generalisation but that’s the best way to explain without spoiling it. Shape shifting crow marries human woman, human woman gives birth and conflicts arise from how crows raise their young and humans raise their young. Some of it is humourous and probably meant to be so. Others just show that different cultures raise their young different ways and that just because you think your way is right doesn’t mean that’s true.
The Dragon’s Tale:
Content warnings: abuse, social ostracism.
This is another book that goes along with The Immortals quartet. You can read it if you haven’t read it, but some of it makes a little more sense if you’ve read it. It follows the adventures of Skysong and how bored she is one day. And her quest to be able to feel useful and not be bored. Great story of friendship and people surviving through adversity.
Content warnings: verbal abuse, victim blaming mentality from the victim themselves.
This was hard for me to read. As someone who has survived and put up with more abuse than I should have in my life it really hit close to home with some things. Luckily my home abuse was never that bad. This story follows a girl in her path to trying to follow her passion (which happens to be my least favourite subject mathematics). I’m very happy with how the story turned out. It basically turned a bad thing into a good thing. And that was great and wondrous.
Time of Proving:
Content warnings: mentions of slavery and abuse
This is a good story on placing value in help. And not letting people take advantage of your help. It’s partly a coming of age story of a young teen learning to be a leader and partly a story of learning what your help is worth (I really like the bargaining of help for help; help surviving in exchange for help with better drawn maps).
Surprisingly no real content warnings. Unless you need one for descriptions of injuries. Then there’s that. But even that isn’t a real big thing. Girl meets an older woman travelling through her village who offers to teach her better magic than what the village elder is willing to teach her and subsequently “saves” the village from dragon attack.
Another dragon story. I LOVE dragon stories. Really and truly. Girl finds hurt dragon and nurses it back to health. By turns of events dragon saves village, leaves girl, and she gains part of dragon’s gifts. Including the ability to communicate somewhat with animals.
Content warnings: violence, rape mention, death
The only thing I’m going to say about this is it was very good and shows how bad “pack” mentality can be amongst humans.
Testing (and Comments on the short story Testing):
Content warnings: drug mentions/use, acts of violence to a person
This was a very interesting short story (including the foreward Comments on the Short Story Testing) about some of the things the author actually went through/observed when she wasn’t writing. Another bad “pack” mentality type story, but also shows how people from bad homes can act/react towards lots of change.
Overall this was a very good collection of short stories that I enjoyed and actively want to know more about some of (particularly The Dragon’s Tale, Nawat, and Lost). It was very enjoyable to read and easy to read. If you enjoy Tamora Pierce’s writing, I highly advise it.
Buy it here: