Cover of Tortall A Spy’s Guide: designed to look like a journal with gold accents and two criss-crossed keys in the middle

About the Book

Title: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide
Published: 2018
Series: Daughter of the Lioness

Cover Story: Journaling
Talky Talk: Faithful Companion
Bonus Factors: Inside Look, Official Timeline
Break Glass In Case Of: Undying Devotion

Cover Story: Journaling

The physical book has a nice feel to it, literally: the keys and the title on the cover are raised up. It looks like a nice journal to jot your thoughts in (and teenage Steph loved her some blank journals) except George has already gotten there first. Some pages are done up to look like old parchment inside. It’s a respectable looking addition to put next to all your other Tamora Pierce series.

The Deal:

Alanna has some unexpected news for George, and it prompts him to clean out the storage room next to his home office. As he goes through boxes, he finds old papers, notes, and such that make up the contents of this book. In between these pages, you’ll find a history of the kings of Tortall, written with sidebars from a ten-year-old Thom (Alanna and George’s son); a layout of the kingdom’s spy network and some practical advice on blending in, lock-picking, and building your own Mind Palace Liar’s Palace; bits of the journal of the head cook to the king and queen (random, I know, but kinda fun to see in the head of a “normal” Tortall citizen); Kel’s mom’s notes to the future queen, Princess Shinkokami, and much more.

Talky Talk: Faithful Companion

You’re not picking this book up if you’ve never read a series set in the world of Tortall before; heck, you may not even look twice at it if you only read one quartet. This right here is definitely for the super-fans. I’d liken it to one of those Star Wars or Harry Potter companions people buy because when there’s just so much world-building to keep track of, you get a little confused and want a reference guide. I am not usually a reference/companion guide person, so there were parts of this I really liked and others I skimmed a bit—like, for example, the descriptions of the immortals; perhaps because my favorite of the series is the one all about the immortals, much of this information was already known to me and it felt like a rehash. BUT there were parts that tickled me (see below), so grab this up if you are really into world-building and would love to see more Tortall, no matter what form it comes in.

Bonus Factor: Inside Look

Woman holding a magnifying glass up to one eye

My favorite part of this companion, which is set after the end of Trickster’s Queen, is the little snatches of “current” Tortall we see. Notes between George and Alanna, George and his spies, even some cute correspondence from then ten-year-old Alan, Aly’s twin brother, who hasn’t really had much presence, overall, in the Tortall landscape. All of this serves to show us how life is going for our old friends, which makes me feel like a thirsty woman finding a small oasis in the desert, especially since there’s no series currently planned to pick up after Aly’s story left off (that I am aware of, at least). The only downside for this super-fan is that there wasn’t nearly enough about Daine/Numair and their new brood.

Bonus Factor: Official Timeline

White background with words that say "an official chronology of Tortallan Events"

Another great feature is the official timeline at the back of the book. Pro-tip: Keep a bookmark or a finger back there to keep it handy for when you need to flip back and forth between it and whatever missive or note you turn to, because the contents are in no way in any kind of chronological order. The timeline is full of great highlights from every book and is broken down by season, plus it contains official birthdates.

Break Glass In Case Of: Undying Devotion

How old is Tamora Pierce? How is her health doing? I just had this vague sense of panic when I realized that one day she will stop writing and I may never get a chance to see what new adventures my friends will go on. Knock on wood that she has many years left, and that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Tortall’s future.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Random House. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Tortall: A Spy’s Guide is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.