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Magic Steps

(The Circle Opens #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  21,340 ratings  ·  440 reviews
Lady Sandrilene fa Toren knows all about unusual magic - she herself spins and weaves it like thread. But when she witnessed a boy dancing a spell, even she is confounded. To her dismay, Sandry learns that as the mage who discovered the power of the young dancer, she must be his teacher. Before lessons can begin, however, Sandry and her uncle, Duke Vedris, get news of a ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 264 pages
Published November 15th 2006 by Scholastic (first published March 1st 2000)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  21,340 ratings  ·  440 reviews

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Start your review of Magic Steps (The Circle Opens, #1)
Four years after the magical plague swept their city in Briar's Story, the magical students of Winding Circle have separated to pursue further training. Sandry, whose gift lies in weaving magic as though it were thread, discovers a boy with a strange ability. Unlike ordinary mages, he has to dance to do magic. Everyone else in his family is a harrier (the city's version of police), but Sandry convinces them to let him train with her.

Meanwhile, a feud between merchant clans leads to murder, as
Arielle Walker
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
It's been too many years since I read this second quartet in the Circle of Magic series. I missed the full cast reading, but it's still so nice to give the words your own full attention. A few gaps in the story have been filled - now on to the next!
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, audiobook
I wish I would have known this is part of a larger series so I could have started at the beginning. I still liked it and it wasn't too confusing, but I would have gotten more out of it. I liked Sandry, she's strong and smart and took the time to teach Pasco even when he wasn't the easiest student to work with. It was easy to forget she's only fourteen, she seems so mature. I thought the murder mystery was interesting, though I didn't completely understand the magic that undoes things? Maybe I'll ...more
This is more like a really high three, but I'm rounding up because of sentiment. I still find myself wanting more from the Emelan books, and not getting it. They just take place in such a short period of time, and there isn't much character interaction. There was even less in this one than usual, because the four main characters are split up, each character getting their own spotlight book while the others are off having adventures in other parts of the world.

This one is Sandry's book, and the
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
Sandry stumbles upon Pasco, a boy who can do magic through dance, and because of ~mage law~ she must teach himeven though she's 14 and he's 12. Meanwhile, a trio of brutal assassins are magically murdering a merchant family, and must be stopped.

I enjoyed this a whole lot more than the first time I read it, which I think is because I kept comparing it to my beloved Tortall series and it just doesn't measure up. However, I did enjoy this book a lot more than the Circle of Magic quartet, because it
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I adore this series! You can see my series review on the blog.
Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
This is a... tentatively rated book. To be honest, I finished it during a personally really rough week when reading was hard, so maybe I could have fully enjoyed it more at another time and given it five stars. Just focus less on the star rating and more on the fact that I liked it, because this book didn't get a fair shot to begin with.

At first I was a bit disappointed that we were skipping several years. After getting so invested in these kids in the Circle of Magic series, I wanted to see
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Tamora Pierce destroys me emotionally.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
PSA: The author narrates this and I love it!

Gosh the babies are growing up! Seeing Sandry take on her own student and help solve crimes with Duke Vedris made her seem so old!! And she's only 14, the precious babies. I absolutely loved seeing Sandry grow into the charming young woman she is. The only thing I really missed was her friends helping her and being around her.

The murder mystery part of this was fascinating since we knew who the villains were. The story was more about trying to catch
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This was cute. The Emelan books aren't as compelling to me as Tortall, but I liked the idea of dancing magic a lot. WHOA, though, that ending is WAY more violent than Pierce usually goes with.
Jason Beineke
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and it is a book that is on a higher maturity level than the original Circle of Magic books. Among the themes at play here are Sandry's devotion to her uncle and her desire to care for him out of selfless love as opposed to the selfishness of Duke Vestry's third son and current heir. In the original Circle of Magic books we saw Sandry as both the most psychologically damaged of the four youths due to her accidental imprisonment in the dark and also as the most ...more
Anna 'Bookbuyer'
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, to-sort
Unmagic. Eww. I'd really have hated to be Sandry when she wove that unmagic thread. Gah.

Edited: Added detail

I just realized that the unmagic is somewhat like depression. It robs you of the will to do anything and infects every part of your body and life.

I'm glad that the children are growing up and learning to pass on what they themselves have learned. I'm worried about Sandry's Uncle and glad that he might have a new love interest in the beautiful dance Yazmin! :)


I feel so bad for the
Kylara Jensen
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: magic-school
Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic, #1) by Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite nostalgic books of my childhood. I find it so fun and comforting to read.

I love this book as an expansion of that. I love seeing Sandry really coming into her own as a full mage and spending more time with her uncle.

The new characters are fun and I think it's interesting to see more of how Tamora Pierce separates her two lands. We see police work and mages in this one but it's totally different from how things work in the Beka Cooper series.

Anyway I've been having a
Dena Landon
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I just finished re-reading the whole series. What I love about Tamora Pierce's books is that she creates different worlds within the greater cosmos/magical structure, based on countries in our world. Each of the books in this series revolves around one of the characters from her earlier Circle of Magic books finding an ambient mage to train, whilst trying to solve a different murder mystery. Half murder mystery, half-fantasy, and well integrated between the two. I will admit that they get a bit ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Whew. Parts of this are ugly. Those are the powerful parts, though. In fact, the plot here is much stronger than the characterization; Pasco is a caricature with a talent, Yazmin is every other funny, talented teacher, and Sandry doesn't change or grow. But both the plot and the idea of unmagic are great propellants: they're ugly and costly and result in painful decisions.

I think this is the weakest of the later books, though. It's Sandry on her own, and these books are stronger when the
This is another example of a book that I wasn't in love with the first go around (although this is still on the scale of my general feelings for anything by Tamora Pierce, so still adored it), but this re-read changed my mind. It was definitely a great transition for the characters growing up and experiencing more complicated issues.
Alex Black
I think I like the Circle Opens quartet a little better than the Circle of Magic quartet, but they're still hovering around 3 stars for me. I just don't connect with these books the way I want to. Sandry is a great character and I'm interested in her life, but the concept of unmagic seems poorly devised and dealt with. I don't understand Sandry's powers as much as I would like to after so many books, or understand where her powers fit in comparison to other magic in the world. It feels very much ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first of a new series in the Magic Circle universe. It follows the same characters as in the first series, four years later, as they go out into the world and discover new mages who must be taught. This is Sandry's story, and she finds a boy from a police family who wants to dance instead of police, and who has magic in his dance steps. Because she's the one who discovers his magic, she's the one who has to teach him. Meanwhile, there's a bunch of murders taking place in town, and her uncle ...more
Shae Petersen
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
From my first read of anything from this author, I was quite disappointed. It was a very underwhelming story. I found it very difficult to understand the world, which I assume was much better explained in the other series. I found the story also very difficult to follow, and I felt no emotional attachment to any of the characters. I did love some unique concepts of this story such as the magic system, but the plot did not excite me. It was an okay read and I don't plan on reading the rest of the ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff, 21st-century, 2000s
I read/liked the Circle of Magic books when I was a kid but didn't realize this second quartet existed until last year when I found the originals in my closet and re-read them. So this is the first time. Tamora Pierce is a good storyteller and even though there are cliché elements they're usually put together in an interesting way. There's always the clear sense that this is a kid's book (thematically, and also in terms of writing style) but there's nothing patronizing about it.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the previous quartet, the four mages work and live together. But that's not the case with this new series. This first book was all Sandry. I thought that I wouldn't enjoy them being apart, but it felt right. I think it's necessary for the characters to grow as adults and as mages. I really loved this book and I look forward to the next three.
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is really good, but unlike the Circle of Magic books that came before, it gets pretty brutal and gory. Definitely not intended for quite as young an age.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Terrier and Graceling
Review originally posted at The Otaku Librarian.

As a disclaimer, even though I've only given it three stars, I did enjoy it more than its prequel series, possibly due to the fact that it centered around only two protagonists rather than a whole slew of them.

I originally thought this to be a children's novel along the lines of Tamora Pierce's other works. Once the blood and gore started splattering about, however, I was shocked. And then I realized, oh YA. But still, there are literal buckets of
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sandry, you are an inspiration.
Seriously, she's an amazing person and a great teacher (while at the same time she's struggling with it, losing her patience with Pasco etc., illustrating how very human she is) and reading about her is a joy; she's probably my favourite "Lady" character of all time. She spins her magic, she's soft-spoken and thoughtful and observant and feminine and if you think any of that is a weakness, you couldn't be farther from the truth - and both Sandry herself & this
Fuchsia Rascal
I'd only read this book when it first came out, before now. I remembered it being flat and disappointing, and I have to say that I'm still not impressed with it on my re-read. Throughout the novel, I can't come to care about Pasco at all; he never really becomes a three-dimensional character. The book is very fast-paced, everything happens within the span of a week or so. It's a quick read, but it never hits emotional chords or makes me really care about what's going on. I love Sandry, but even ...more
Jannah (Cloud Child)
Keeping the 4 rating. Was good as a beginning for the quartet.
Sandry is now 14 staying with her uncle, Duke Vedris. She discovers Pasco an untrained dancing mage and is given the task to teach him. meanwhile there are killers loose murdering a prominent merchant family without being seen and slipping past guards and magical protection.

Her relationship with her uncle was good to read, it showed in part how much stronger she had become and her maturity.
Pasco was not the most endearing character
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in the second quartet about the mages of Winding Circle. Unlike the earlier four books, the four main characters have split up to follow their own paths, and each book really does focus on one of them in particular.

I liked the first series, so I liked getting to find out more about what happens with Sandry and her uncle. The addition of Pasco, the dancer mage, is interesting, but his storyline seemed to be relegated to the background much of the time. He came off as more
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Hey, folks! I just discovered that apparently I have given some very popular books single-star ratings--except I haven't. How do I know I haven't? Because I haven't read those books at all. So before you go getting all hacked off at me for trashing your favorites, know that I've written GoodReads to find out what's going on.

I return to my regularly scheduled profile:
Though I would love to join

Other books in the series

The Circle Opens (4 books)
  • Street Magic (The Circle Opens, #2)
  • Cold Fire (The Circle Opens, #3)
  • Shatterglass (The Circle Opens, #4)

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