Pierce, Tamora: (203) Circle of Magic: Daja’s Book

I’d resolved, when I got back to school and moved my stuff out of storage, that I would start making a dent in the pile of unread books I owned. However, it’s not really the best time to read new things when you’ve had a migraine since Monday, are very tired, but can’t sleep yet because your thoughts are going around and around on a friggin’ hamster wheel of pain. (I actually read most of a book once while coming down with a migraine, Pat Murphy’s There and Back Again. I don’t think it would have been very good even without the migraine, though.)

Thus, I grabbed Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic: Daja’s Book nearly at random last night. As the title suggests, this is part of a series. At the beginning, four children (around 9 or 10 years old, I think) are rescued from various situations (Daja was the sole survivor of a shipwreck that killed her entire family, for instance) by a mage who realizes that they have undetected magical talents. Misfits in the temple community where they’re brought, they are moved into a cottage together with two of the temple dedicates. There, they become friends and start to explore their magic.

It sounds pretty generic put that way (and the titles don’t help), but these are really very well done. The four friends have craft or nature talents—Daja’s is metal work, Briar’s is plants, for instance—which are a nice change and quite soothing to read about. Pierce’s very earliest books (the Alanna series) had a whiff of Extruded Fantasy Product about them (mostly in the worldbuilding); the books quickly found their own voice, though, and the world here is concrete and well-realized. Pierce’s characters are always vivid and engaging, and I particularly enjoy the tight, central friendships in these books. Daja’s Book is the third of four in the series; there’s another series set a few years later, The Circle Opens, which is still in progress. Since the Circle books all stand alone, I’ve managed not to get sucked into buying these in hardcover, just for the sake of my budget (I admit, I did have to buy the latest in her other ongoing series, Squire, as soon as it hit the shelf). I do recommend all of Pierce’s books, though.

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