The Circle of Magic: Pure enjoyment for all ages

Tamora Pierce Circle of Magic: 1. Sandry's BookTamora Pierce Circle of Magic: 1. Sandry's Book 2. Tris's BookTamora Pierce Circle of Magic: 3.  Daja's Book 4. Briar's BookTamora Pierce Circle of Magic: 3.  Daja's Book 4. Briar's Book

book  review The Circle of Magic Tamora PierceThe Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce

The Circle of Magicseries by Tamora Pierce consists of four books, but the action and characters are so intertwined that it makes sense for me to review them as a series. These are some of my favorite YA stories, and ones that make me cry every time I read them.

The Circle of Magic tells the story of four young people — Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar — who are brought to the Winding Circle Temple by Niklaren Goldeye, a powerful mage who has had visions of each one of these young people. Sandry he rescues from a city destroyed by plague. Tris he finds at a small temple, where her family has abandoned her because of her temper. Daja is the lone survivor of a storm that destroyed her Trader family’s fleet, and Niko finds her clinging to a raft in the open ocean. Briar is a street rat and thief about to be sentenced to the docks when Niko intercedes. No one knows why Niko has had visions of them, because no one knows they have magic, even themselves. When their abilities finally make themselves known, they are brought to Discipline Cottage at the Temple, where Niko, Lark, Rosethorn, and Frostpine — all powerful mages with the same rare magic as the children — become their teachers, mentors and family. The children learn to use their magic just in time as a series of disasters strike, and the children will have to weave their magic together to survive.

The four books in the series are named after the children — Sandry’s Book tells the story of them coming to Winding Circle and their learning to work together through a series of earthquakes. Tris’s Book tells of the children helping the temple fend off a series of devastating pirate attacks. In Daja’s Book, the four leave the temple and travel to the north to investigate a series of devastating wildfires. In Briar’s Book, the four have to join together to discover the source of a new plague.

As action-packed as the books are — and the previous list gives you a good idea that it is one disaster after another as they all take place within a year — the thing that brings me back to these stories time and again are the characters. I love watching these children develop into themselves, into their power, and into a family. I cry at the end of the series every time because the love that they feel for each other is palpable as they sacrifice themselves to care for those they love. If I had to choose a series to be a wizard student in, I would choose this over Harry Potter every day of the week, because of the wonderful characters. While the plots may not be complex or hugely innovative, these are great stories for just pure enjoyment. The next time you want to just enjoy what you’re reading, regardless of your age, go visit Winding Circle. I promise your first trip won’t be your last.


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RUTH ARNELL is a retired professor of political science in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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2 comments

  1. I’d take Winding Circle over Hogwarts any day.

  2. You’ve convinced me to read these, Ruth. I think my library has them freely downloadable on audio.

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