Tamora Pierce’s books are a huge part of my childhood. I loved the Circle of Magic books (and some of the Circle Opens ones). That is pretty much exactly what I want out of a series. I like magic as long as it’s ordinary for the setting, but when the protagonists start developing vanishingly rare and incredibly powerful talents, it gets boring as hell because the story stops being about the challenges they face and starts being about how special and cool they are.
I overidentified with Keladry as a kid, and I still really love those books. Getting through the vicious sexist bullying in the book is hard, but there’s a lot in the book that’s worth it to me - an unattractive and stoic female protagonist that plenty of people dislike, who has no special innate abilities to make things easier for herself, who isn’t important to anyone until she makes herself important, and who owns the surliest horse in existence. She is my anti-Disney-princess, and I love her for it.
Never took to Alanna, though. The crossdressing, the love triangle, the red hair and purple eyes, the Chosen One stuff, the lack of female supporting characters, all the shit the goddess threw at her to help her out - it smacked of Mary Sue rookie writing. Took a while for Tamora Pierce to get past that - I don’t reread the Immortals series either for that reason.
I’ll check out the Green Rider series, thanks!
[Things of note: Spoilers to those who haven’t read the series.
(I-I’m not super knowing on how or when to mark things with TW so my apologies if I did it incorrectly.)]
Same here on both the big part of childhood and in the Circle case as what I like in a series with magic. Tamora Pierce’s books (I started with PotS and didn’t read the SotL series till… Threeee years ago…?) were a part of why I really, REALLY want to write stories with female characters as the leads. They’re sort of what taught me ‘Oh my gosh you don’t have to have an insanely powerful magic user or the character to be crossdressing to have a kickass female lead and it can be /great/!’ since most of the books I read before them the females had to be borderline gods to get anything done. u_u
Emelan’s approach to magic is pretty much my favourite. It’s everywhere! Yeah it’s still uncommon enough to be seen as a gift, but common enough that, well, it’s not seen as this super-duper rare thing.
I don’t mind if a character has rare magic, or even if it gets powerful (gotta be some limit though you know?) but when it becomes ‘LOOK HOW COOL I AM’ it’s just… Sigh. Give me creative uses of magic, like Sandry’s! Give me situations where the character has to THINK through what they’re going to do - not just blast their way through it time and time again. Give me characters who /make mistakes/ and have to come at a problem from a different angle! Give me magic that is more powerful when you /know/ things than it is just by making it a powerhouse. If straightforward magic use can solve everything then what’s the point of reading the story?
I think you worded things better than I could have ever concerning Keladry. Just, that’s one of those times I didn’t mind reading through the sexism, especially since if memory serves one of the things she did was flat out /call it out/. Something along the lines of “Yeah these people are bullies here and now, do you think the moment they’re out of training and in the world they’re magically going to be upright citizens they’re supposed to be? No. I don’t think so, and I’m not going to sit back and be complacent.” but I could be mixing two different quotes up.
Oh man, I’d actually forgotten the chosen one stuff and the Goddess sending stuff her way. I didn’t mind the love triangle too much, but then again that’s in part because she didn’t end up with the royal - something I’m actually REALLY persnickity about, I’m tired of everything always being about some prince (though, admittedly the other option is 75% of the time the Rogue, so it’s not much better from a trope perspective, I just REALLY have a thing against princes as the love interest). I’m also not bothered by the red hair and purple eyes thing, but that’s probably because red hair appeals to me and I’m so used to odd eye colours I don’t think them terribly special. In hindsight that’s probably one of the reasons I am hesitant to suggest it to people… Like, it gives some history stuff that has made me appreciate later things more, but at the same time you can tell it was her first series both by the writing style and the content.
I have a love-hate relationship with The Immortals series. It is one of the few series with telepathic communication between humans and animals where it’s the /human/ that’s special that I’ve not outright hated. But at the same time the 4th book sort of makes me groan. The others were fine enough - I have a soft spot for Daine and the dinosaurs thing which may or may not make me a little biased for book three - even though they have a LOT of problems, but the 4th one… I love the Darklings, but the majority of other stuff in it just leaves me all :/ Especially how there was a proposal before the end and felt out of nowhere in comparison to the rest of the series - especially with the magic thingy at the beginning being a “And a thought occurred to him that never had before” or whatever that pretty much said ‘yep, they’re gonna be together by the end of the book’.
… And the Minotaur stuff. Just. Nnno. Especially with how her rant about them ended up being more or less “Well maybe if you made female minotaurs they wouldn’t HAVE to rape human women, now would they?” and. No. No. I’m not sorry when I say that just feels very gross. Yes, it’s a fictional creature, but it’s being implied if not outright stated that it is literally in its nature to rape people. And that it’s on some level excusable because it’s in their nature. I know that’s not what was INTENDED, but, yeah. That’s sure as heck how it came across, especially with how so much emphasis on how the Stormwings being what they were didn’t by default make them evil.
I was automatically biased against a series that had telepathic communication with animals, since they typically fall into a BUNCH of tropes I reallyreallyreally don’t like, but a bunch of stuff in book four just left me… Disappointed at best, and squicked in several places I guess? At least Daine wasn’t all ‘LET’S GET MARRIED TOMORROW’…
Erm, sorry about the ramble…!
I hope The Green Rider series will be to your liking, though thinking back I remember there was some sort of prophesy and now I’m a tad worried since that typically implies a chosen one regardless of whether they’re stated in the first book or not.
I’ll also try to remember other series. I know I’ve read a few others with ‘Magic is ALL OVER’ and with badass normals, it’s just remembering the names of them.