I was actually very disappointed by this one. I had high hopes – I love Tamora Pierce. I’ve read almost all of her books, and reviewed several of them on this blog, most recently Tempests and Slaughter. I was hoping the Timeline would place the actual books in the timeline, but it’s written completely in character, so only notable figures are named. (Beka Cooper, from the Mastiff trilogy, was not notable enough to get a mention, which I am quite sad about.) I knew this was going to be written in a guidebook style, not a novel, so I was prepared for that, but it still just didn’t mesh well.
There were certainly amusing parts – the Spymaster taking an inordinate interest in someone stealing the royal Chef’s recipes, because he loves the man’s soups, for one. Also infuriating points, like the letters between the King and the man he asks to become the new Knight trainer – a man who really dislikes Alanna and female knights in general. I found the “threat-level profiles” on characters to be mostly rehashing of things we already knew.
The few mentions of Emperor Ozorne do make me want to go reread The Immortals War set of books, which I’d already somewhat wanted to do after reading Tempests and Slaughter. Now that I know they also deal with Ozorne, I want to read them again even more!
So I don’t know. I could see it being a useful reference guide, but it’s not really a good read. I’m pretty ambivalent about it. I would read any other Tamora Pierce book rather than this one.
From the cover of Tortall: A Spy’s Guide:
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!