Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce (The Immortals #1)
Thirteen-year-old Daine has always had a special connection with animals, but only when she’s forced to leave home does she realize it’s more than a knack—it’s magic. With this wild magic, not only can Daine speak to animals, but she can also make them obey her. Daine takes a job handling horses for the Queen’s Riders, where she meets the master mage Numair and becomes his student. Under Numair’s guidance, Daine explores the scope of her magic. But she encounters other beings, too, who are not so gentle. These terrifying creatures, called Immortals, have been imprisoned in the Divine Realms for the past four hundred years—but now someone has broken the barrier. And it’s up to Daine and her friends to defend their world from an Immortal attack.
TITLE: Wild Magic
AUTHOR: Tamora Pierce
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
LENGTH: 362 pages
AGE: Young Adult
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
Daine meets and then travels with Onua, the horse mistress of the Queen’s Riders, beginning as a hired hand for the journey to the palace and quickly becoming indispensable. She has wild magic so strong that she’s in danger of losing track of herself when she connects with animals (the People). They meet the mage, Numair Saladin, who becomes Daine’s master in her magical studies. The plot revolves around Daine connecting with People and with two-leggers, gradually feeling like she can belong again after having traumatically lost her home and family before the events of the book. I like almost all of this book, I just wish it didn't lean quite so hard into Daine's crush on Numair (a man twice her age and her mage master, besides).
There’s a new threat to Tortall: the immortals which were sealed away for several hundred years. Some of them seem to have been in on the return plan, working with enemies of Tortall. Others were unceremoniously plopped in the Mortal Realms with no forewarning and are making the best of it.
In characterization, this focuses nearly as much on animals as humans. Daine connects with many wild animals and enjoys meeting new kinds of creatures (especially on her first visit to the ocean). She also communicates with some of the immortals, particularly the ones with animal forms. I like Cloud, she’s technically an animal sidekick character but she is written much more like a human traveling companion in temperament and tone. She never feels like a gimmick, but is a full person with Daine.
For anyone who’s read The Song of the Lioness quartet, WILD MAGIC occasionally leans into a “where are they now” roundup of beloved characters from those earlier books. If you read this without those, it completely makes sense and doesn’t require background knowledge from that series in order to have 99% of its emotional impact. Usually it just means that readers of Alanna’s quartet may recognize returning characters by their descriptions a paragraph or two earlier than when Daine learns their names.
I like the big battle at the end, it fits the characters and gives a chance to show how much Daine has changed over the summer.
Graphic/Explicit CW for animal death, death.
Moderate CW for grief, ableism, blood, violence, body horror, medical content, parental death.
Minor CW for mental illness, alcohol, kidnapping, domestic abuse, fire/fire injury, excrement, vomit, gore, medical trauma, slavery, suicide, murder.