Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales is a selection of ten short stories from Tamora Pierce. This young adult collection puts Pierce’s ability to draw the reader into the lives of her characters on display perfectly. Pierce consistently writes compelling tales for children and young adults that make the readers really care about the characters and the bigger picture of the world that they live in. While eight of the stories in this book are fantasy, taking place in Tortall and surrounding lands, there are also two works that take place in the real world. Fans on Pierce will be thrilled to see some stories about favorite characters, and some new characters. There are also two stories that take place in modern time and real places, rather than the fantasy realm of Tortall. I count myself among Pierce’s fans, and fully admit to suggesting her work to many people when they ask for reading recommendations for their children or themselves.
For readers that are not familiar with Pierce’s writing, Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales would not be a bad place to start. While there would be a slight spoiler to the Trickster trilogy, it is not enough to really ruin the story if you went back to read Pierce’s previous works after this anthology. Pierce consistently includes strong women in her stories, though not necessarily as fighters, many hold traditional roles. Her characters include dragons, students, teachers, normal people that simply have an inner strength and desire to do what it is right despite the challenges and obstacles in their path. I do not really want to give away anything about the short stories because I would not want to spoil the joy I felt at discovering each one. I loved getting to see the aftermath of two storylines, the effects that strong magic had on the world, and the versatility of Pierce’s writing skill.
I highly recommend Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales, and to be fully honest anything that Pierce has written, to everyone. All but one of the stories is appropriate for preteens and younger children that love Pierce’s writing. However, in the ‘Huntress’ story set in New York City there is language and action that is better suited for teens and adults only. If you normally do not care for fantasy but enjoy coming of age stories and characters that really come to life as you read, then you will enjoy her work. If you do not believe me, start with Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales and explore the short stories before jumping headlong into her books.