Tempests and Slaughter

13 CDs. 15:54 hrs. (Numair Chronicles). Listening Library. Feb. 2018. $70. ISBN 9780553552379. digital download.
Gr 9 Up—Small in size and often the youngest in his classes, 10-year-old Arram Draper surprises his magical instructors—and himself—with the strength of his powers. His talents put him in advanced classes, where he makes friends with his teenage roommate Ozorne and the clever and independent Varice. The beginning chapters see the trio develop their gifts, deal with spells gone wrong, and dabble in discussions of puberty and class distinctions. The final third of the story delves deeper into Arram's healing ability and his stomach-churning apprenticeship patching up gladiators, whose brutal fights are seen as sport. Pierce sets the tale in her Tortall universe, and some readers will recognize Arram as the younger Numair Salmalín from her "Immortals" series. Narrator Ariadne Meyers finds distinctive voices for Arram, Ozorne, and Varice and adds dimension to their teachers, compassionate gladiator Musenda, a powerful crocodile god, and a troublesome bird named Preet.
VERDICT Pierce devotees will revel in the adventure, occasional humor, and promise of romance in this new series opener. The story stands alone and would fit well in any YA fantasy collection.

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