Author: Tamora Pierce
Originally Published in 1996
Review by Miriam Atkinson
Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals Quartet ends with the novel Realms of the Gods. The kingdom of Tortall is at war. Now humans, animals and Immortals must all choose which side to fight for. While running for their lives wild magic blessed Daine, her friend and teacher the human mage Numair, and her young dragon ward Skysong are all pulled into the Realms of the Gods. The trio must travel across the Realms and make their plea to the higher Gods to save Tortall before it’s too late.
So, the big question – does Realms of the Gods deliver an epic conclusion to The Immortals Quartet?
Realms of the Gods is a good conclusion which wraps everything up and provides answers to unresolved plot threads – for example, questions about Daine’s heritage. It certainly feels like the conclusion to a series but I don’t know if I would go so far as to call it epic. In my opinion Realms of the Gods is disappointingly the weakest book in the Quartet.
But let’s focus on the good points first.
In the previous three novels we see Daine learning and developing her magic. In this final instalment Daine must utilise everything she has learned up to this point in order to survive and save her friends. It was very satisfying to see all of that training coming together as Daine uses all of her skills, such as her shape-shifting and her link with animals, in ways that benefited the story and progressed the plot.
Following in the style of the previous novels, the fourth book focuses on a new location which we, the reader, get to explore for the first time with our protagonists. As the title suggests, the majority of the novel takes place in the Realms of the Gods. The Realms are populated by the higher and lower gods as well as Immortals like the dragons and stormwings. Pierce clearly put a lot of thought into the creation of the Realms and there are many areas and characters that make up this new setting. It was a lot of fun to see the world Pierce created expanded yet further.
However the setting does have an unexpected side effect. All four books follow a strict ten chapter format (not including prologues and epilogues). With so much of the fourth book taking place within the Realms, little time is left at the end to reconnect with the characters we’ve met and grown to love over the series; such as Cloud, Oona and Alanna. While I understand why the novel was set out in the way it was, I do feel it would have benefited from an extra chapter or two at the end.
In my previous reviews, I’ve praised The Immortals Quartet for developing and questioning ours and Daine’s ideas about whether humans and Immortals are good, bad or something in between. In the first novel, Wild Magic, good and evil is very clearly defined but in Wolf-Speaker and The Emperor Mage character motivations are more ambiguous. Disappointingly Realms of the Gods does not continue this theme. Once again character motivations are very clear. Although this does make sense within a story that is set to a war backdrop, I nevertheless felt that the plotline for this novel was more simplistic compared to its predecessors due to the lack of plot twists and ambiguity. In some ways the third book felt the more ‘epic’ story because, as Daine and the reader have no idea who to trust, the stakes are higher if she makes a mistake
The one part of the novel, and in fact the whole series, that I truly disliked was the tacked-on-at-the-end romance between Daine and Numair. Although no exact ages are given, it is estimated that by the end of the Quartet Daine is approximately seventeen while Numair is twenty-eight. I’m not a fan of teen/adult romances and in addition to this the pair also have a strong teacher/student bond. Honestly the whole love story sub-plot (end-plot?) is very unnecessary and without it the story would be exactly the same. I’ve never felt the Quartet needed or was missing a romance storyline. That said, I believe Prince Kaddar (from The Emperor Mage) would have made a much better romantic option for Daine. The pair are closer in age and their relationship develops from resentment to respect to friendship over the course of the novel.
So…the conclusion? There’s no denying that Realms of the Gods delivers in terms of scale and a mostly satisfying resolution to the book series. While it may not be perfect, the novel does make sure our heroine Daine remains the same strong-willed character we met in the first book.
As for The Immortals Quartet as a whole – I’ve been a fan of this series for a long time and as an adult I still get enjoyment each time I read them.