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Briar's Book

(Circle of Magic #4)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  28,669 ratings  ·  512 reviews
There is an alternate cover edition of this book here.

Former "street rat" Briar leads a comfortable life at Winding Circle Temple, learning plant magic from Rosethorn. But street kids are still his friends, and when one of them gets sick, she turns to Briar for help. When her disease proves beyond even Rosethorn's power, Briar realizes that all of Summersea is in danger.

Mass Market Paperback, 258 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published April 1st 1999)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  28,669 ratings  ·  512 reviews

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Rasmus Skovdal
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review is for the first four books, ’Circle of Magic.’

An overall four stars, with the individual ratings as follows:

Sandry’s Book: 4

Tris’s Book: 4

Daja’s Book: 3

Briar’s Book: 4

This is, shortly, an excellent YA/children’s series. The books are short, but never feel rushed. They are simple, but never simplistic. Each book has a strong moral core, and they each contain messages, but this is never pushed (at least not strongly) on the reader. They are essentially very good examples of how to sp
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A plague hits different in 2020.

I've never felt closer to understanding Briar and Rosethorn's quarantine life than I have in this re-read.
Briar's Book is the final book in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic quartet, which of course is ending just as I'm getting used to the format Pierce wrote them in. Naturally, it focuses on Briar, the former thief and street rat, now plant-mage of Winding Circle Temple. He and the three girls are now a year older than they were in the first book, but still quite young. They've adjusted to their new lives and are learning in heaps and loads. For Briar, a large part of this book involves him interact ...more
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Again, the Full Cast Audio team have made an outstanding production. This was never my favourite of the first four stories - the focus on illness as a story-telling device is commendable, but always made me just that little bit too sad, and I prefer these stories when the relationship between the four young mages is explored. This barely happened here - the three girls feel like background characters the entire time, and I wish that wasn't so.

Still - Rosethorn! Lark!
Just Josie
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 5-stars
I will always have mad love for Pierces work👏

Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Laurie K Marks and Sherwood Smith
Briar escaped life as a homeless young thief when his magic was discovered. Since then, he has renamed himself and, to a certain extent, reinvented himself. He realizes how much he's changed in skills, outlook and assumptions (like trusting authorities, or actually *wanting* to be clean) when one of his street-rat friends falls ill. And as the illness spreads, and plague envelops the city, Briar is forced to come to terms with his new destiny.

This book is basically everything I have ever wanted
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, old and young.
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
This is probably my favourite of all of Pierce's fine books for young adults. It's touching, heart-wrenching (yes, Rosethorn is my favourite character) and pretty darn meaningful. I've always loved the books that take place in this world more than those from Tortall because this world had (has) so much more room for innovations beyond the safe formula of your standard fantasy novel. And the series does live up to expectations - it develops and fleshes out these four young people in four eventful ...more
Fuchsia Rascal
What a great finish to this series! Instead of having a human enemy to fight against, our young mages have to deal with a plague that's spreading rapidly through Summersea. For most of the book, Briar and Rosethorn are separated from the rest of their housemates, nursing the sick in quarantine because they were exposed to the disease. It's a huge change from the previous books, where the four young mages and their teachers were always together. I love how they work together, but separating them ...more
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
3.5 stars

I think the key to reading the Circle of Magic and Circle Opens books has got to be audiobooks.

I slogged through the first three in Circle of Magic. They are good, but just missing some of the magic in Pierce's Tortall series (minus Tempests and Slaughter, which was detail-filled but um, lacking in plot or point).

But the audiobooks are done in with a full cast and music, which I normally don't like but this was very well done.

I was swept into all of the emotions of the epidemic, the pan
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I feel like I really got to know Rosethorn in this book. I've been her fan since 75% through book 1, but I loved the interactions she had with the kids and seeing more of her magic in a real life situation so to speak. The funniest part of this book was when Crane tells the kids their masters are great mages and their reaction is

I think the kids have definitely grown a lot since book 1, even if they are still immature at times. I mean they're like 14 max at this point. I liked that Briar picked
Mikayla Lovejoy
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
A fitting end to the first quartet. I cried like a little baby.
Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
2020 Review: You'd think reading this book during a pandemic would strike too close to home, but honestly... what struck me about the book is how much faster theirs is. They find one case of the disease and immediately begin isolating and preparing (a huge burn on the American government, btw). Briar and Rosethorn are in quarantine for 2 weeks, at the end of which time a test to see if someone has the disease has been devised. They return home and start helping with the experiments to find a cur ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Briar's Book was great for helping my kids process what's going on because of the corona virus. It's set in a magical fantasy world during an epidemic. After an hour or two of listening, my eight-year-old and my ten-year-old both independently remarked about how similar the story in the book was to what was happening right now, since we've been in quarantine for a few months. I asked them if they wanted to keep listening, or if it was too much. Both were enthusiastic about continuing. One kid sa ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
I forgot how good this is. It is. Really. Particularly the parts where they're all working in Crane's workroom. The idea that you still need to research magic, and that diseases have to be distilled down to keys which then can be combined multiple ways for a cure - it's interesting and smart and cool to read about. ...more
When I was reading these books for the first time, this was my least favorite of the quartet. As I'm revisiting them I was actually a lot more invested than I remember. Briar's story is definitely very emotional. It focuses on the strength of the relationships that he's built, and the risks that he's willing to take in order to protect them. ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think of the four in the Circle of Magic quartet, this novel definitely hit me the hardest of the lot - but in the best way.

In this novel, a sudden epidemic of the "blue pox" is discovered when Briar and Rosethorn go to assist with what is essentially a "free health clinic" in the Mire (slums), and Briar finds that one of his friends has come down with a mysterious illness. After informing Rosethorn of this, they do their best to keep the illness contained before it can turn into an epidemic b
Kathy Davie
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, fantasy
Fourth in the Circle of Magic fantasy series for young middle-grade readers and revolving around four very supportive friends. It's also fourth in the overall Emelan series.

Visit KD Did It Takes on Books for a chronological listing of the books in the Circle of Magic series.

My Take
It's a fun combination of magic, science, and medicine. Pierce has blended this so well, that it feels perfectly normal.

I like how Pierce uses the concept of birthdays to provide this back history about Briar, the form
Now that's what I'm talking about. This is the best of the first four Circle books, I think. Briar is the best, and the plot is juicy and suspenseful, and it's all held up by the strong emotional core of Briar's relationships with those around him. I love that these books are all about friendship. (view spoiler) ...more
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mark-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star, own
Gosh darn it this pulled on my heart-strings and I think I spent the later half of it in tears.

I think overall this series is great, but I would have liked there to be a little more character development. While each of the leading characters of the book did face a personal struggle that they overcome, it didn't necessarily make them a better person. Granted the entire series takes place over just one year and these kids have faced an earthquake, pirate attack/battle, forest fires, and a freaken
Emmaline Neas
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
The series became dull by this book...which was sad because I was hoping for more out of Briars book...more of his backstory and his friends...mostly the book is about an epidemic that hits the area around the I’m not absolutely thrilled with the storyline...but it had some moments between the teachers and students that are important for the series plot line...
I think that I will try to read the next portion of this series...we will see how that goes.
Ceillie Simkiss
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, mcs-of-color
I always love this book even though it makes me cry a lot. Also, it hits differently this read.
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm not crying, you are.
(We are all crying)
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Alex Black
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I can't put my finger on exactly why, but this whole series feels like a chore to read. The only book I was ever excited to pick up was Daja's book, and as a result it was the only to hit four stars. The characters and premise are great and I feel like I should love this series, but I don't. I have to bully myself to get through all of them. It took me over two weeks and I should be able to get through all four in a weekend.

I do like this book a little bit more than Sandry's book, though. Plague
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: k-scifi-fantasy
rating: 3.5

Of the three volumes I've read, this one is the best, but I wouldn't recommend starting with this book — the backstory and introductions in Vol 1 are important. I like Briar's 'attitude':

p 88: Would he ever run out of love for green things? No, he thought with a smile, I'll never run out of that.

He enjoys tending his plants and does not view that as work. His avocation matches his vocation. I wish my neighbors felt the same. (They don't understand why I enjoy weeding the garden, pruni
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Alas, this was, sadly, the most boring of the Circle of Magic books in the first quartet. There was a lot of waiting and repetition and nursing the sick, working in a lab, over and over ad nauseam. The few scenes where interesting or different things happened were mild, or short, or almost unimportant-feeling. Even the standard final scene where the four combine their magics to unusual and powerful results was anticlimactic.

This one also had far less interaction between the four, which made me s
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I might have enjoyed this more if it wasn’t centered around an epidemic. Not really the escapism I was looking for at this particular time, but still an enjoyable read. I love the characters and their growth as a friend group is fantastic.

Two criticisms:
while I love the size diversity of characters, I didn’t need reminders every other sentence about Tris’s weight/size. It only happens in her perspective, which might resonate with some readers, but it felt out of place in this story.
Rebecca Gatzlaff
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
4.5 Stars
What I loved:
Deals with a pandemic/ illness
the characters are so quirky. I also loved Briar the main character.
Deals with death in a good way.
I also loved the teenage angst.
The magic system is unique and is threaded together
What I didn't like:
I didn't really like Crane.
The way the pandemic was handled was so accurate in the past. The characters wore masks and gloves when they were around sick people or taking care of sick people. That is happening today in this world

Ai Miller
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
FOLKS. THIS BOOK. NOT GREAT TO READ IN A PANDEMIC. But also it feels like everything comes so full circle (lol) here in such amazing and powerful ways. I just love these characters so much and every book it has felt like the stakes get a little bit higher and a little bit higher. Some of it was predictable to some extent but I don't think that predictability hurt the book in any way--if anything, it made the tension of it all greater.

I can't wait to read the next series, but this was such an am
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect cover for edition data 7 22 May 03, 2013 03:21PM  

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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 gro

Other books in the series

Circle of Magic (4 books)
  • Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic, #1)
  • Tris's Book (Circle of Magic, #2)
  • Daja's Book (Circle of Magic, #3)

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“Tris: "I was reading."
Sandry: "You're always reading. The only way people can ever talk to you is to interrupt."
Tris: "Then maybe they shouldn't talk to me.”
“Sometimes there's nothing you can do. [...] Sometimes they don't have enough to fight with.” 65 likes
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