By Tamora Pierce.
This is the first book in a second series taking place in the Tortall universe, and takes place maybe 15-20-ish years(?) after the Alanna series--or at least she's all grown up by now. This series features a teenage girl named Daine who moves to Tortall after her entire village was massacred. Daine's an unusual girl-- she doesn't have the traditional Gift that people in the previous series had, but she has "wild magic," which is something different entirely. What it seems to boil down to is that Daine can communicate with and heal animals and her powers work differently from other folks with magic. It's implied that her father wasn't human and neither is Daine uh, somehow. Animals seem to consider her one of their People, anyway. Well, if you've never met your dad, it'd be hard to say.
Daine gets a job helping to take care of the royal horses, and falls in with Alanna, Jonathan, his wife, his wife's soldier trainees, etc. through that. She makes a lot of new insta-friends, including a powerful shapeshifting mage named Numair that she uh, hits it off with on some level.
And then come the Immortals. Well, they don't seem to be immortal, but they ain't from this realm. All those magical creatures you don't normally see hanging about in the world have suddenly flown in. Some don't have evil intent, are just in distress, lost, what have you. Others, on the other hand, are looking to do a takeover of Tortall. Specifically the Stormwings, which seem to be the obvious villain of this story. Especially after Daine kills some, one of them in particular targets her. While everyone else is saddling up to go to war while magically neutralized, Daine has to (a) figure out how to work her powers better, and (b) figure out the ethics of the situation. Once she meets/bonds with an animal, she considers it a friend, and she doesn't feel good about asking/ordering animals to die for her. But her friends are all, "Hey, their home is being attacked too, they might have a vested interest in this themselves." So a war goes on.
I don't feel strongly about this story one way or another. It's okay, I guess. I don't want to say that Daine is a Mary Sue exactly, but she seems a bit too well-liked by everyone immediately for it to seem like she's a real character to me. (Even Alanna has run into problems with the occasional person not liking her.) She fits in immediately like a glove, which also seemed a bit too easy. I dunno...I guess other than her backstory, it doesn't seem like Daine has a ton of personality or plot going on quite yet beyond the animal stuff. Which is almost all of the plot anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter. But despite the plot, I guess things seem a little...simple and easy to me here, somehow. I think this might be the whole "this story feels too young for me to be reading at the age" thing again I ran into with the previous series.
I'll give it three stars, and say that most people will probably love it more than I did. But at worst, it's a pleasant read.