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Book Review: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce (with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, Megan Messinger)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness. This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall!

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My Review:
Before I begin: I say I’d recommend it to others, but a part of me is also hesitant to recommend it to who isn’t familiar with the other books based in Tortall. Not just for the sake of understanding what’s written herein, but to avoid potential spoilers (although the timeline is graciously missing important plot points). I just want others to be able to make the most out of reading this book because it was so good.

Anyway…

This was amazing to read – perfect for every Tamora Pierce fan. I loved that the pages were transformed to look like a bound collection of guides, profiles, definitions, sketches, and letters. The addition of ink stains on the pages and (2D) wax crests was a nice touch. This guide provides inside knowledge – a behind-the-scenes, if you will – to various events (mundane and crucial) into the lives and people of Tortall and neighboring lands.

It’s a lot of information to adsorb. And if you’ve read all the Tortall universe books prior to this, it will make your head (pleasantly) spin as you recall fond memories of old. The lot of it really makes you think, especially about how to craft characters in terms of behavior and intrigue.

Although it’s not a chronological collection of papers and such of happenings, there is a feel of a narrative and a reasonable order which the authors chose to present each new tidbit. I love that the book concludes with a complete chronological timeline of Tortallian events.

I am curious as to why there is only a brief paragraph referencing the Beka Cooper series, which takes place a few centuries prior to Alanna: The First Adventure. If it’s a matter of importance to the realm’s security and persons of interest, then I can see why it might be excluded. However, I would think there’d be pertinent information included in the end-section timeline, such as when Beka was born.Or would this all be pointless since her books are dated as journal entries?

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this, even though it’s “written” by one of my favorite fictional characters, George Cooper. But I really enjoyed reading more about one of my favorite fantasy worlds. It was a pleasant and delightful reading experience – so compelling I could hardly put it down.

One reply on “Book Review: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce (with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, Megan Messinger)”

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