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....
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 groups, I'm going to turn them all down. I just don't have the time to take part, so please don't be offended if I don't join your group or accept an invitation. I'm not snooty--I'm just up to my eyeballs in work and appearances!
Also, don't be alarmed by the number of books I've read. When I get bored, I go through the different lists and rediscover books I've read in the past. It's a very evil way to use up time when I should be doing other things. Obviously, I've read a lot of books in 54 years!
I was born in South Connellsville, PA. My mother wanted to name me "Tamara" but the nurse who filled out my birth certificate misspelled it as "Tamora". When I was 8 my family moved to California, where we lived for 6 years on both sides of the San Francisco peninsula.
I started writing stories in 6th grade. My interest in fantasy and science fiction began when I was introduced to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien and so I started to write the kind of books that I was reading. After my parents divorced, my mother took my sisters and me back to Pennsylvania in 1969. There I went to Albert Gallatin Senior High for 2 years and Uniontown Area Senior High School for my senior year.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I wrote the book that became The Song of the Lioness fantasy quartet. I sold some articles and 2 short stories and wrote reviews for a martial arts movie magazine. At last the first book of the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.
Tim Liebe, who became my Spouse-Creature, and I lived in New York City with assorted cats and two parakeets from 1982 - 2006. In 2006 we moved to Syracuse, New York, where we live now with assorted cats, a number of squirrels, birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and woodchucks visiting our very small yard. As of 2011, I have 27 novels in print, one short story collection, one comic book arc ("White Tiger: A Hero's Compulsion") co-written with Tim, and a short story anthology co-editing credit. There's more to come, including a companion book to the Tortall `verse. So stay tuned!
I'm getting fonder of this series as it goes on. I like the characters - I usually do when it comes to Tamora Pierce books. Not only that, but the writing is so smooth that it fades into the background. So many YA books these days have such awkward writing, with awkward sentence structure or poor word choices and it's downright distracting. I never have that problem with this author.
Here's my favorite part of these books, though. Tamora Pierce can create a world where gender equality and racial diversity are THE NORM, and she can do it without drawing any attention to it - without going "ooooh, look what I did there." I am ashamed to say that I caught myself incorrectly assuming that background soldiers, etc., were male until a pronoun was used. I assumed for a little while that Frostpine was white and sort of Scandinavian-looking, mostly because that's what the name conjured up for me. I also caught myself imagining Gorse as a tall, ruddy-faced doughy man. And each time, I was wrong, and all because of my own assumptions and incorrect perceptions. I love you for this, Tamora Pierce. I hope that someday I will reach the point where I stop making these assumptions and assume racial diversity and gender equality instead.
(I read Fire by Kristin Cashore right after this and could feel the contrast. Cashore also creates a world where there is greater gender equality in jobs like soldier or healer, etc., but it kind of seemed like there was more attention called to the fact. Admittedly that was partly because it was a surprise to the main character, from whose perspective the book is written.)
I love this series so much. And as an adult I'm appreciating it in new ways. The nuance and intentionality to relationships and handling of trauma while respecting children is phenomenal. Discussion to come.
I always love this series. I'd hesitate to say more than the Tortall books, because they're so different, but there's something both beautiful and brutal about these books that both heals and hurts. Reading through this one with the Mark Reads community was especially hard at the moment, because of the family themes that it explores for Tris and the discussions that came up on one particular post about dysfunctional families. Still, the way the relationships that are formed in these books are so real and wonderful and that's why I love them.
2017 Review: I don't know why this book is so hard to review for me. When I think about it I can trace the plot in my mind pretty easily, but when I don't pay extra attention to trying to keep it straight, somehow it all blurs together into one blob. I don't know what about the book makes that happen in my head, but I don't think it reflects well on it.
Tris definitely got more development in this book, but I feel like the attention the other kids got was more superficial. We see a lot of them learning to work as one and interacting as a group, which is really great, but I wish it had more even development across the board. Still, Tris is my favorite character, so I'm not too upset about it. This is also a big leap from Sandry's Book just because while Sandry's was like 60% exposition, Tris's Book has a lot of action. It was pretty intense and I enjoyed it.
I think one of my troubles with this one comes from the fact that while the kids are told the whole novel that they have to learn not to rush into things on their own, in the end that's sort of exactly how the whole plot is solved? Like, even though Tris learns that she needs to learn more control over her magic, the final battle still seems to show that yeah, rushing into things on their own will turn out pretty good. Because while the kids do end up needing their teachers' help, it seems to me that the kids were the only ones who could stop the invasion, but the teachers weren't going to let them help. Therefore, only by rushing into the battle themselves and forcing their teachers to follow in order to not let them die could the kids save Winding Circle. AKA, rushing in without thinking saves the day, which goes against the book's whole message. Which seems like a flaw.
I think it's also a bit weird that I don't know where the series as a whole is going, as in the overall plot. Like when you start Harry Potter, you may not know from the first book that it's going to go in this whole "horcruxes scavenger hunt" direction, but at least you have the idea that the overall goal of the series is to see Harry defeat Voldemort. I'm halfway through this series and I still have no idea what the Circle of Magic's Voldemort is. At least with Tamora Pierce's other series such as Song of the Lioness or Protector of the Small you have goals like "main character wants to become a knight and Save People". Here the protagonists want... belonging? Which they found by the end of the first book. So where's this going?
2020 Review: This book really cements for me why Tris is my favorite Emelan character. She's very flawed and has a lot of anger and she has LIGHTNING in her HAIR! Try to beat that! Even Sandry having my favorite kind of magic, Briar being the funniest, and Daja having the most interesting backstory can't top that.
I am a little more at peace with the book's plot this time around. I'm not getting the blobby effect I did the first time, even though I didn't listen particularly carefully to the audiobook as I was playing games at the same time. And I think I made a mistake the first time, arguing that the plot was fundamentally incompatible with the message it was trying to send—because I don't think it's true that the kids were the only ones capable of halting the invasion of Winding Circle. I think I was just so caught up in their righteous mindset the first time that I believed their magic was needed to do that. This time I was like, hey, wait a minute, would everything have been perfectly fine if you did what you were told? And I think it might have! They made a choice to intervene, even though they were told not to, and it's not clear if that choice made things better or not. And that works with the lesson they needed to learn about self-restraint.
It's also strange to come back to the questions I had the first time I read the series, about what the overarching goal is. Because I know now that Circle of Magic doesn't have a Voldemort, and I can't remember why I was ever put off by that. It's an episodic series where each book is about overcoming something new, and that's perfectly fine. Perhaps this format has just become less common so it seems odder. Or maybe it never became less common in the middle grade genre, and I was so unused to it because I'm steeped in YA? Much to think about it! I think I would actually prefer to have more series like Circle of Magic, tied together by setting, characters, and theme instead of by a complex plot that stretches through every book.
Second in the Circle of Magic fantasy series for young middle-grade readers and revolving around the four young mages we met in Sandry's Circle, 1. It's also the second in the overall Emelan series.
It's been two months since Sandry's Circle.
My Take Trisana learns more about her magic: why she hears voices.
Mmm, I'm uncomfortable with the comment Frostpine makes about black people. It smacks too much of bigotry for me, even if Frostpine is a black person.
Pierce reminds us to not judge a book by its cover. A good topic for parents to open with their kids. Then the duke tells Sandry of his pride in her, that she is using her abilities to help people. A much fuller life than that of her empty-headed parents.
Aymery is an odd character — you'll find out how odd much later — who wants to get rid of Tris. Oh, not hurt her, just get her out of town.
We learn some of Rosethorn's back history as a mud-roller.
I love it! The adults keep saying "children can't do this, children can't do that", and Briar makes the best retort, lol. "If it's something 'children' can't do then we kids didn't do it." Crack. Me. Up. It's a good lesson for kids that they are capable. And a good one for adults to encourage kids to try.
The responsibility of caring for another, a pet, is emphasized with the starling Tris takes on.
Tris finds peace within the storms, the weather. It doesn't judge. It doesn't tell lies. Another topic for parents and kids to explore together. For parents to understand how bad it is to judge their children. To compare them to any other child. It's also good for kids to learn not to judge. To look for the other person's perspective and more.
The Story Events in Sandry's Circle have caused Sandry's, Tris's, Briar's, and Daja's magics to combine giving each of them a small part of each other's powers.
One gift they share is Tris's ability to "hear", and they discover this when they overhear men planning sabotage and committing murder.
Tris has taken on a new responsibility: caring for a baby starling. It's an endless job.
Daja takes on an important repair job with Frostpine and Kirel: repairing the nets and chains that protect Winding Circle.
It's Briar's past as a thief that enables him to identify the true danger to Winding Circle.
An even greater task for Tris and her fellow mages is the protection of Winding Circle from the pirates and the mages aiding them. With the help of the string Sandry spun in Sandry's Circle.
The Characters Winding Circle Temple in Emelan Discipline Cottage is… …an intimate setting for Dedicate Rosethorn whose power is with plants and who was a mud-roller, a farmer's daughter, and Dedicate Lark who is a weaver. They only take in mage students. Little Bear is the puppy the kids rescued in Sandry's Circle.
Trisana Chandler, of a merchant family, is one of the four young mages. Her parents, Darra and Valden, couldn't get rid of her fast enough once they realized she had no value to them. They first sent her to Uncle Murris and Aunt Emmine. When she was at Cousin Uraelle's, she was abused. Aymery Glassfire Chandler is Tris's cousin, and he's learning how to use his magic at the university in Lightsbridge. He's delivering a letter for Adelghani Smokewind.
Daja Kisubo, a mage with power over metal and fire, is outcast from her people, the Traders when all of her family died in the shipwreck. Uneny was her older brother. Other family includes Uncle Tiwolu who carried the dead body of his wife, Aunt Zayda, off their ship, the Fifth Ship Kisubo. She's apprenticing with Fire Dedicate Frostpine, a great smith-mage. Kirel is Frostpine's apprentice.
Briar Moss has a gift for plants and still retains his skills from his days as a thief.
The temple is… …a place of learning and magic. Dedicate Superior Moonstream is their respected leader. Niklaren "Niko" Goldeye is the children's main teacher; he's also on the Mage-Council of Lightsbridge. First Dedicate Skyfire is from Sotat and had been a legend as a general. He's in charge of Winding Circle's defense. Dedicate Gorse is the temple cook with a special fondness for Briar. Dedicate Withe works in the kitchens and is a jerk. First Dedicate Crane of the Air Temple is a rival of Rosethorn's. Mostly because he tries to force plants in his greenhouse. Novice Jaen is being scolded by Dedicate Willowwater.
Summersea Duke Vedris IV is Sandry's great-uncle and the ruler of Emelan.
Pauha (she calls herself "Queen Pauha") has brought together a number of pirate captains to create a formidable fleet. Enahar is her brother and a mage.
Shurri and Hakoi are the goddess and god of fire. Trader Koma and his wife, Bookkeeper Oti, are Trader gods. Traders are merchants with some strict rules.
The Cover and Title The cover is ocean greens with Tris standing atop one of the wall's defense towers, gesturing to the storm flashing over the pirate fleet in the harbor below.
The title is the character on which Tris's Book focuses.
Tris's Book picks up after the giant earthquake in Sandry's book. We seen that the four kids have grown in their magical powers and Tris in particularly is still haunted by the earthquake. However, they don't have much time to think about that since new dangers are threatening Winding Circle.
I liked seeing Tris develop a relationship with her cousin. She still has scars from how her family treated her and I think talking to Aymery helped heal some of them. The rest have been healed by finding her true family with Daja, Sandry and Briar. I loved these four and loved watching them learn more about each other and their powers together. They are definitely stronger together.
One thing that sparked my interest was Briar. He seems to have taken an extra liking to Tris and I'm curious as to how that will play out. The other thing I love about this series if the kids' mentors. Lark, Rosethorn, Frostpine and Niko are amazing in their own ways. For me, Rosethorn really shined in this book. She so obviously cares about the kids, especially Briar. But she still can be a prickly woman when she wants!! Oh she makes me laugh.
I'm excited to see what's in store for my kids in book 3.
Book: In context of the rest of the quartet, 4*. This one was my least favorite; I didn't dislike it, but I know I reread the other ones more. Having read it again, this time via audiobook, it's a lot better and more adult than I remember, and it's not bad, but, hmm, kid!me's instincts were still right, I think. Tris's Book has the distinction of being the only one in the original quartet where the conflict is a human antagonist (versus nature), and follows the more standard fantasy arc of battles and baddies. What makes these four books special is the lack of a Big Bad, very unusual in fantasy/YA fantasy and even in Pierce's ouevre, as the Tortall books are all very concerned with destiny and gods and big battles over the fate of the kingdom/world/humanity, blah blah. Tris's weather magic is also the most "standard" of the four kids, so while the lightning-throwing is badass and all, it was a tad boring reading about her powers in comparison to everyone else's continued magical growth.
Other stray observations (cut mostly for length, but also spoilers):
Audiobook: Still 3.75*. Either I got used to the quirks or the cast got better. I'm not sure how long it took between this one and the first one, but Briar's voice changed. Not deeper, exactly, but it did start puberty-wobbling. This was a bit of an immersion break because this book falls directly on the heels of the first. In one of the opening scenes, I think someone says only 10 days had passed since the earthquake? But those are the perils of casting actual kids/teens, and he still makes for a fantastic Briar. Skyfire and Aymery weren't knockout, but they were good; I was especially struck by how young Aymery sounded, because, well, he is, which makes his arc all the more understandable/tragic. I do have to call out Gorse as a decided weak spot. The book specifically says he has a heavy Yanjingyi (fantasy!Chinese) accent and... oh no... the VA attempted it.... except when he didn't... which was actually the better state of things, because 😬 😬 😬 😬
Dirty pirates! Filthy jishen! I love the depth of language that Tamora adds into all her books. I've learned quite a few "trader" words.
Tris really grows as a character in this book. I love that the children are starting to realize the danger of their immense power!
Edit: added detail!
I hate Amery for hurting Tris! I rarely understand people like him who are willing to hurt others to personal or/and monetary gain.
I'm still impressed with how much the children's powers have grown and potentially how scary atria will become when she learns to control her powers!
I'm looking forward to Daja's book next!!!
Edit: April 2022
I will continue to be surprised by cousin Avery. I'm glad he died but I'm sad it made Tris angry and sad. I kind of like her beating up his corpse. Am I weird for that?
I'm glad the quartet never seem to get seriously injured despite the many stupid things they do. The problem is they are very powerful and very young and haven't been mages very long.
I was really happy at how well the four did at stopping the pirates and mages. They really worked hard and used each of their unique abilities to kill them. Tris with her water funnel. Daja taking apart the boats and stealing weapons. Briar with his thorny plants. And Sandry finding Endahar (sp?)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Loved this book, still love this book, honestly think I enjoy the Circle of Magic books more than the Tortall series. Briar makes me laugh and I adore Sandry + Tris is BAMF (so is Daja for that matter).
Why wasn't I reading these books when I was a goat kid? Oh, right, because they were published after I was in college and stuff. Still, they're great, and I'm really enjoying them a lot. BRING ON DAJA!
This book picked up shortly after the conclusion of the last one, with our four main characters dealing a little with the aftermath (and the nightmares). It's pretty interesting that the children seem to be getting 'wound together', now being able to speak to each other with their minds - potentially a side effect from Sandry's weaving (when they were underground with the earthquake).
I loved that we essentially got a new animal companion in this one, with the addition of a baby starling - though with the way that the starling was spoken of, I'm not sure it'll be here to stay for the long run (i.e. in the upcoming books) as starlings were described as kinda just being raised and then escaping the nest to go do their own thing :P
It was pretty neat being able to meet someone from Tris's family in this, especially after all the stories she'd told about them essentially giving her away because she didn't have magic like they wanted to (jokes on you a**holes, she DOES have magic). Her cousin was an interesting character though .
The final conflict in this was really intriguing, and I loved seeing the different ways in which the pirates were fought off. The bit where was definitely a bit odd - because I'm not entirely sure that ... but hey - I will stay my judgement there because the whole thing was great :P
Can't wait to read through Book #3 and see where things go next c:
Tris was so great in this book. I love her powers. The quartet are getting closer to each other and growing as friends and into themselves as young adults. With a pirate attack appearing on the coast it throws everyone and everything into chaos.
Each of the kids grows a little bit in this book, finding new parts of their powers. But I've always liked Tris from the beginning. I like that she's a storm mage. I've always been fascinated by thunder and lightning. I love that lightning sparks along on Tris' fingers. Her life has left her so unsure of herself, she's scared and hesitant. Finding her way into her powers and how to control such powerful elements was lovely to watch.
SERIES INFO: This is Book #2 of 4 in the original "Circle of Magic" series, all of which are available on audio. There are also additional books (only some of which are on audio) with the same characters.
**This review may contain spoilers for the previous book.**
SUMMARY: One of the things I like best about this series is the way that the children work with & along side their adult mentors as well as together. That really starts to be solidified in this book as they make both good and bad choices in that regard. Another strong point of the series is the message that choices/actions have consequences. Tris & the others continue to deal with the emotional results of the ones they make in this book for many years.
CHARACTERS: Although each book is named for one of the children, and the story line is partially driven by her/him, for the most part they all share equally in the action. In the last book, they wove their magic together to accomplish something they weren't individually strong enough to do. In this book, their magic begins to bleed a bit around edges.
Two great character moments are 1) when they are all at the breakfast table and Sandry accurately guesses what each of the others is probably thinking; and 2) when Nico tells Tris a combined spell won't work unless she trusts him, and she's all "of course" (a sharp contrast to her inability to trust anyone in the first book).
That's not to say that the 4 of them have completely changed and don't still have a ways to go before they move beyond their difficult backgrounds.
WORLDBUILDING: As I stated in the previous book, Ms. Pierce does her usual incredible job in this area. There is such depth and breadth to the people & cultures who inhabit this world.
PLOT: The plot is much more cohesive in this one. The end of the previous book is flashbacked, and each character is introduced & brought together very smoothly. Note: although you can easily get up to speed on the history & plot if you haven't read the previous book, you really will miss out on how far they have come already as characters.
Unlike the first book, this one has a single story line and set of antagonists. The current danger is dealt with by the end, but all 4 books are interwoven in so much that what happens in the previous ones helps to set up the trials they will face next.
HIGHLIGHTS: --The protective "net" and it's method of construction --Because of her unique abilities, Daja is needed for a dangerous job. They explain it to her carefully and let her choose. --Winding Circle's head chef Gorse. He is only in a couple of short parts, but he's definitely a scene stealer.
CONTENT NOTES(?): The pirates are definitely not romanticized, and there are some dark moments for a MG book. These include the story of a friend who was raped, and a scene where the pirates cold bloodedly kill several people who can't even fight back.
NARRATION: Full Cast Audio did their usual wonderful job. There weren't any changes in the narrators for the main characters. There were some nice sounds effects this time.
A fun, mostly light story. They dealt with harder things in this book, like the consequences of Tris losing control of her powers. But in the end, good always wins, bad always gets what it deserves. Looking forward to continuing the re-read of this series!
I wanted so very badly to like this as much as I like everything else Pierce puts out. It's just that this...felt so much like the latter half of Wild Magic by Pierce, that I couldn't like it. The attack on a safe location by pirates, and the younger generation having to help out more than they should. Tris also reminds me very much of Daine, the heroine of the Wild Magic series.
It's not that this book is a bad book, it's decent. But that's all it is to me. Decent. At the end of this book you only get a hint of how much Tris has changed for the better, but it's so slight that if you're not looking you miss it. I felt that it was more about Daja with a side plot dealing with Tris and her training. Tris was one of my favorite characters in the previous book, but here she kind of wilts. The Numair/Niko similarities continue, and I get more weird/creepy bad!touch feelings from Niko in this book. At least Daine was 17 by the time they addressed their feelings for each other. Tris and co are 10. And Niko just gives me bad!touch feelings.
I will continue to read the Circle of Magic books, and their sequels, because I can't not finish a series that I somewhat like. If that makes sense. I can't judge a whole series on one book that I was blergh about.
Overall: I'm not sure if the Wild Magic series or the Circle of Magic series was written first, but I see very striking similarities between the two. As of now, I'll recommend the Wild Magic series if you're looking for a good YA fantasy series. Book #2 of the Circle of Magic books has a serious case of the 'blahs, second book' feeling.
Didn't like this one as much as the first one. It felt a little rushed, and it didn't have the advantage of introducing the world and the characters. Beginning stories are always my favorite. It did have much more of a clear focus on its main character this time (Tris, obviously). Mostly, though, the thing with the pirates felt a little manufactured, and because it was also feeling rushed at the time, I don't think there was enough emphasis on the kids really feeling the consequences of their actions.
I still really like the way the relationship between all the kids is progressing, but my favorite is their relationship their teachers, especially Briar and Rosethorn for some reason. I love that kid.
Anyway, I might just be talking out of my butt. I might just have not been in the right mood to read this. Regardless, will finish up the series probably in January.
I forgot how quickly these go. But that's a good thing here: Pierce is her best when she's less verbose. In fact, the blunter she is, the better; she can do more with actions and speech than with descriptions.
Tris's Book is good - things are coming together more. The novel is still open-ended and clearly just one part of a series, but there's enough of a complete story in it to make it feel satisfying.
Personally, I think that Tris is one of the most believable characters in this series. She has very real and believable insecurities and acts out just like a teenager would do at that age. That being said, she's not my favorite character because she is so prickly. Still the plot of this one was a bit more complex than the previous novel with an actual enemy to fight against. The characters are interesting and well developed and overall it's an enjoyable read.
WHOOPS I read this all in one go, literally no one is surprised ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
(On a more serious note: I love how Tammy makes these four kids face consequences. Also, it's so fun to go back to this "just learning everything" phase of their lives? They're always learning, of course, but it's so NEW to them in this quartet.)
This series so far could be a solid 3-1/2 or come in at above a 4. Ms. Pierce's story telling style here could involve some discussion, which of course I'm not going to be able to do at this moment. I found it very different from her Tortall series, which I devoured. I like it. I'll finish the various series.
I like this book a little more than the first, but not by a whole lot. Most of my thoughts remain the same.
It feels like the overall plot of pirates takes over anything else that happens in the story. So often the teachers will say "oh I wish I had time to teach you/explore something with your magic, but I don't so we'll deal with it later." So many times. And as a reader, that was what I was thinking as well. I wanted so many things explored that just got pushed to the side to be dealt with later.
Because of that, it was hard to get into a lot of the rest of the story. A 250 page fantasy middle grade that I've read twice before shouldn't take me more than one sitting to read, and yet it took me three days. It's not that I didn't want to pick it up, it's just that suddenly I'd remember all the other things I could or should be doing, while usually I tend to put everything off in favor of a book I'm enjoying.
The things I liked more about this book had to do with Tris's past and her learning control. I really liked that she started to see real consequences with her magic and real consequences if she didn't start dealing with it in an appropriate way. I loved her dealing with her family history, being abandoned by them as such a young child and now meeting up with the only cousin who had been kind to her. All of that was really enjoyable, but their wasn't much of it compared to the rest of this book.
I do still quite enjoy the premise and the characters, I just need to wait a little longer to get into the books I remember really enjoying. I remember the story improving with each book, so I hope to see at least one four star by the time I finish this first quartet.
This book was much more action packed then the first. I had a hard time stopping to do the important things like feeding myself or sleeping. Whoops. It is such an easy read but so good still. I really enjoyed it. I think this series is perfect when you need a break from heavier reading. It goes by quickly and satisfyingly. I love it! Definitely a growing fan of Tamora Pierce. Starting the 3rd book IMMEDIATELY. I even brought it with me to appointments today as I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait long and would want to start right away. Sorry neglected cross stitch. I’ll get to you eventually. ⚡️🌪🌧🌊
Really deeply enjoyed this; the feeling is definitely different from book one, where so much time is spent on setting up the story and world and introducing the characters and their magic. Here, it feels so much more fraught and tense but not in a way that is like off-putting, and I love the ways that you get to see more of the world (especially regarding the magic of the mentors.) It makes me love the characters so much more, as they feel more fleshed out and real, and I couldn't even wait and immediately dove into the next book, oops!
This was decent, for a children's book. I was certainly impressed with just how dark the story got in places - Tamora Pierce has a real skill for conveying the horrors and reality of war/battle/death in a way that is still not graphic or unpleasant to read.
I liked how the kids were all coming together in this one, starting to form proper friendships and rely on each other. The grown-up in me couldn't help but roll my eyes every time the kids were naughty for the sake of it, but at least it felt like an accurate depiction of childhood!