Book Review – Circle of Magic

Title: Circle of Magic (Sandry’s Book, Tris’s Book, Daja’s Book, Briar’s Book)

Author: Tamora Pierce

Format: Paperback

Date: 1999-2000

Due to moving last week (and spending the two weeks before that packing and visiting my newborn niece and nephew), I haven’t had much time for reading, so I’m going to do a bulk recap of a series I’ve reread recently, the prequels to Battle Magic (See review). New books will return next week!

The Circle of Magic books follow the stories of four young mages, Sandry (a stitch witch), Tris (a weather mage), Daja (who has power with metal and smithing), and Briar (plant magic). In Sandry’s Book, we’re introduced to the four, and they are brought together at Winding Circle Temple where they learn that they are all mages. They are forced to learn to coexist (easier for some than others) and to learn to control their powers, something made both harder and easier when they are caught in a huge earthquake while under the Temple. Sandry (hence the book title XD) spins their powers together to make them stronger, and the book ends with them alive and recovering.

I enjoyed the book (even on re-read) because the characters are all interesting and yet very different from each other. They’re not perfect (Tris has a temper and major prejudices, Briar is still a street thief at heart, Sandry expects to get her way all the time, Daja is a little too dismissive of people who are not Traders), but that only makes them more interesting.

In Tris’s Book the four mages have learned to live together but now pirates are attacking their home. The four are working their magic in ways that they never imagined, and they end up destroying the pirate fleet. This leads to changes in all of them, but especially Tris, who has learned what truly happens when she attacks without thinking (I especially liked that this comes up again later in Shatterglass and The Will of the Empress).

Daja’s Book focuses on Daja. Declared unlucky by her people due to surviving the shipwreck that killed the rest of her family and outcast from them, she is forced to face them head-on. While this is happening, the four young mages are losing control of their powers due to Sandry spinning them together in the first book. Sandry must disentangle them, which brings up parts of Daja’s teacher’s past that she never knew about. The book ends with Daja performing such a huge act of magic that the Trader caravan they are dealing with actually pays to have her name “cleaned” so that she can deal with them. Daja must choose between her new family and smithing or going with her people and ultimately chooses to stay.

Briar’s Book brings an epidemic to Winding Circle. Briar and Rosethorn are first put into quarantine, but as the disease spreads, they return to the Temple, where they work with Dedicate Crane (sidenote: he’s one of my favorite characters. Judging by him and Tris, I like the crabby characters) to determine a cure. Tragedy strikes when Rosethorn is infected, though, and Briar and the girls must go to extremes to bring her back. The fact that Rosethorn nearly dies, again, comes up in later books, and I like that Pierce is consistent in allowing the consequences to remain.

In reading the books, there are a couple of things I didn’t care for. In each book, an explanation of the word “kid” is brought up (the first time was fine, but in later books, it was not necessary), and in several of the books, the problem seems to be too quickly resolved.

All in all, I enjoyed my reread of the books, and I would recommend them for somebody looking for a YA series that involves magic but no romance.

3/5 pages

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