Sandry's Book: With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic - and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home. Can Sandry weave together four kinds of magical power and save herself, her friends, and the one place where they've ever been accepted?
Tris's Book: Earthquake damage leaves Winding Circle vulnerable to pirate attack, so everyone - including the young mages-in-training Tris, Briar, Daja, and Sandry - is working to strengthen the community's defenses. When Tris's cousin Aymery comes to visit, he advises the "weather witch" to return to the family that exiled her, but she doesn't wish to leave her friends to face the threat without her.
As the onslaught begins, two things become terribly clear: The pirates have a powerful new weapon, and they have an accomplice within Winding Circle. But the attackers have failed to reckon with the fury of a young mage betrayed once too often and her very stubborn, very loyal friends....
Daja's Book: Outcast Trader Daja, along with her fellow mages-in-training, journeys from Winding Circle to the Gold Ridge Mountains, where drought threatens widespread famine. There, Daja creates an astonishing object: a living metal vine, and Daja's dealings with her former people reawaken a longing for familiar ways.
Daja must choose - should she return to the Traders or remain with the Winding Circle folk who have become her family?
Briar's Book: Four elements of power, four mages-in-training learning to control them. In Book 4 of the Circle of Magic Quartet, former "street rat" Briar leads a comfortable life at Winding Circle Temple, learning plant magic from his teacher Rosethorn. But street kids are still his friends, and when one of them gets sick, she turns to Briar for help. As the mysterious illness spreads, Sandry, Daja, and Tris join Briar and their teachers to fight the epidemic. But just as the situation improves, the unthinkable happens. Will Briar be able to save what he loves most?
"You're always reading," retorted Sandry. The only way people can ever talk to you is to interrupt."
"Then maybe they shouldn't talk to me," Tris said. – Briar’s Book
So my big undertaking in 2013 was reading all of Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books. I’m a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan (she has been the bread and butter of my reading since childhood) it’s a little bit amazing I’ve only read the her books set in Tortall. Admittedly, that’s still a good 2/3 of her books, but if I’m going to call myself a true Tamora Pierce fan, I really should read that missing 1/3!
I have to say, as much as I love Tamora Pierce her first Circle of Magic quartet took me a while to get into. I started out confused and like I didn't have a great grip on the characters, particularly the first book which felt like it was a quick introduction. It’s only about 200 pages, and we’ve got FOUR main characters. It means we only get a brief overview of each character, and I found it a bit confusing as the first book is titled Sandry’s Book. It didn't seem like we spent much time with Sandry at all even though it’s her book because had to spend so much time laying in foundation for everything else. Luckily, I read all four back to back, so by the fourth book you have some truly amazing character development. When I say it that way, it sounds like it’s meant to be read that way, like it’s really one large book divided into four. It’s not like that at all! In fact one of my favourite things about how Tamora Pierce writes, is that all her books are books on their own, not cliff hangers (or very minor ones towards the end of a couple of her series). You continue this series because you will always want to know more stories about her land and her characters, not because you HAVE to due to a cliffhanger.
Out of all the books in the quartet, it’s Briar’s Book (the last of the quartet) that really knocks me off my feet. This is definitely when I got 100% behind the Emelan books the way I am about the Tortall ones. I enjoyed the second and third books more than I did the first, but Briar’s book is….ahhhh! I honestly didn't know who was going to survive or not of the side characters (you know who I'm talking about if you've read the book). Like seriously. Up to like 3 pages to the end I honestly didn't know how it was going to go! You know with Tamora Pierce that ultimately, it’s going to be a feel good book. That being said, it doesn’t mean your side characters are safe - Alanna and Kel’s quartets in particular punched a hole in my gut with some of the deaths.
It's Tamora Pierce. I expected to love it, and I was not let down. If you haven't read these, you should. For so many reasons - I'm going to have a Tamora Pierce discussion post up tomorrow so if this review wasn't enough to convince you, let that convince you!