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Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales    by Tamora Pierce order for
Tortall and Other Lands
by Tamora Pierce
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Three generations of my family have enjoyed Tamora Pierce's many YA fantasy series, from Magic Circle, The Circle Opens and Protector of the Small to the more recent Daughter of the Lioness and Beka Cooper series. Pierce's myriad of fans will enjoy finding familiar characters from several series (while also meeting new ones) in this short story collection, Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales.

It's a mixed bag but, as always in this author's work, each story features young people (mainly young women) dealing with adversity. In the first (my favorite) Student of Ostriches, young Kylaia teaches herself martial arts through observation of the animals around her (learning to kick from ostriches). In Elder Brother, a tree magicked into a man befriends a woman masquerading as a man in a society in which all women are veiled. The Hidden Girl takes a different look at that same society, from the point of view of a young woman who works towards change from behind the veil.

I enjoyed spending time again with Aly (from Daughter of the Lionness) as she and crow shapechanger Nawat deal with triplets. In The Dragon's Tale (another with familiar series characters), bored young dragon Skysong pulls humans into her own magical adventure. In Lost, a brilliant young mathematician is helped by darkings to escape her abusive father and embark on an engineering career. In Time of Proving, Arimu goes against her people's customs to help a bull man who proves himself totally inept in the wilderness.

In Plain Magic, a peddler who is more than she seems saves a young woman whose village plans to sacrifice her to a dragon. In Mimic, another dragon teaches a young healer by example to live up to her talents and responsibilities. Huntress is something different from the others, a modern urban fantasy, in which a young woman (from a family that has long worshipped the goddess) finds herself hunted and needing help. The final tale, Testing, is another modern story about a home for girls who test - and rid themselves of - successive housemothers.

Finishing off this entertaining and diverse collection is a sneak peek at the next Beka Cooper novel, Mastiff - can't wait!

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