Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce

melting-stones2

Melting Stones is the most recent addition to Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic world, which started with the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets, and was continued later on with The Will of the Empress.  I have to admit first and foremost that I’m not wildly crazy over any of those nine books.

The series is about four young friends who learn they each have a certain kind of power (one has it in weaving, one in plants, one in metalwork and one in weather) and follows them as they grow up and face challenges with their powers.  While the concepts are pretty awesome, I really don’t like the way the characters are handled for the most part.  I don’t know what it is specifically, something about the writing style and the way the characters are handled just doesn’t jive with me.  The books get a really formulaic feeling to them if you read them all in a row as I did, and each book is through the perspective of one of the four kids—so if you don’t like one’s narrative over another, as I didn’t, then some of the books are really difficult to get through.

Why then, did I go on to read Melting Stones?  Well, it interested me for a few reasons.  Firstly—and I know, I know, but this really was a factor—the cover is simply gorgeous.  Pretty Asian girls are going to draw me in, I admit it.  And secondly this book is the first that’s not centered around the four original characters, it’s centered around Evvy, a student of one of the four, and she was a character I remember from the earlier novels and really enjoyed.  Her magic is, in case you didn’t get it from the title, in stones.  And that’s another reason I was interested—I’ve always thought rocks were pretty cool.

In reality, this follows a very similar formula as the original books—visits a new place in trouble, happens to figure out what the problem is, has to prove self to the local color and authority figures, ends up saving the day.  But maybe because it’s been a while since I read the others, this wasn’t as tiresome to me here as it was earlier… or maybe I just liked Evvy more.  It’s still a little stiff in the handling of the character—we see maybe a seventeen/eighteen year old girl on the cover, but the Evvy in the narrative is definitely and stubbornly a kid, with a kid’s views, short-sightedness, and prejudices, which makes for a bit of a bore because it’s stuff we’ve seen in the Circle books before over and over again.  And it continues a theme that I personally find disturbing of the main characters finding it fitting and almost enjoyable for their enemies to suffer violently if they were given the chance to repent of their ways and refused.

I have to admit, though, that this book was definitely my favorite of the series so far.  I especially liked Luvo, Evvy’s friend who’s a small living rock, the heart of a mountain (you can see him riding tucked into her back there, that purple-green rock thing).  Luvo was a fantastic character, with the wisdom of ages—and yet some really endearing shortcomings.  Seriously, this book is worth reading for the talking rock alone.

And Evvy isn’t quite as hard-boiled as she makes herself out to be, which is something Pierce executes better in this book than in any of the previous Circle books, in my personal opinion.  It ends with some really encouraging signs that she’s learning and growing.

So all in all, I give this about a B+.  A high B+.

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About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently working on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

4 responses to “Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce

  • Katie

    I LOVE Tamora Pierce, though I do prefer the books set in Tortall (Song of the Lioness, Immortals, Protector of the Small, Trickster, and Beka Cooper – all series!) to the Circle books. Are you aware that Melting Stones was first published as an audio book by Full Cast Audio? They even had the author herself as one of the characters! Also, Evvy may look older, but she’s only about 13.

    • Lisa

      I’m starting the second in the Song of the Lioness series now, and already I do like it much better. Tamora Pierce was actually a voice actor when she started out, I hear! I didn’t know she’d participated in this one, but that makes sense. And yes, I know she’s only about 13 in the book, I just think it’s a bit unfair when the cover sets you up with an idea or expectation that doesn’t hold up in the actual book. I’m too much of a visual dependent, I guess.

    • Isabelle

      That is REALLY cool! Ha ha. I really want to start getting into audio books, but not the ones that are read just ordinarily. I want ones that voice all the characters and like are really TRYING to act it out. I’ve heard a few that sound like someone got paid to sit and read it and I was majorly disappointed.

      13 is SO young. I would guess somewhere between 15-16 judging from the cover. I think Lisa is right, that is a little deceptive.

  • Katie

    I guess I’ve just learned to ignore cover art – in addition to fantasy, I read a lot of romance and covers are often just totally wrong in that genre! Plus the cover on the audio version is different (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Melting-Stones-Tamora-Pierce/dp/193418005X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254655668&sr=8-2)
    Isabelle, Full Cast Audio sounds like exactly what you’re looking for!

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