Outcast Trader Daja, along with her fellow mages-in-training, journeys from Winding Circle to the Gold Ridge Mountains, where drought threatens widespread famine. There, Daja creates an astonishing object: a living metal vine, and Daja's dealings with her former people reawaken a longing for familiar ways.
Daja must choose - should she return to the Traders or remain with the Winding Circle folk who have become her family?
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!
Daja’s Book is the third in Tamora Pierce’s children’s fantasy book series, Circle of Magic. I was previously classifying this as young adult, but this book has firmly set my mind on the subject. At the end of these books, I keep wanting more from them. More development. More sophistication. More actual content (they’re very short). More time spent (they take place over very short periods of time). And I finally decided, basically just about five minutes ago, that the expectations I was placing on this series are not ones it’s designed to meet. Tammy’s other books (in Tortall with Alanna and company) are what I’m used to from her, and have much more complexity, length, etc. These are skewed younger, so I have to remind myself to evaluate them on that level.
And on that level, they are really freaking fantastic.
This time around it’s Daja’s turn to have a feature story, and it’s a pretty great one. The kids’ magics are even more tied up with each other than in the last book, to the point where it’s endangering them. So they have to sort that out. Also, they’re out touring the countryside with their teachers, who are helping maintain local communities beset with drought and fires. In the midst of this, Daja accidentally creates a living plant made out of iron, and attracts the attention of her former people, the Traders, who had banished her and named her persona non grata (essentially). So she’s also got to deal with her heritage and the prejudicial nature of her home culture. As always, Tammy books do a deft job exploring power dynamics between genders, cultures, classes, all that stuff. But she does it subtly and with cool magic and characters you can love.
If I ever have kids, this is a series I will definitely be giving them, although I do hope that in future installments of the Emelan world that the kids are a bit more grown up, and the books reflect that.
2017: Small disclaimer: This is possibly the most subjective review I've written. Also Daja has always been my favourite.
Not just my favourite in the series, and not just one of my favourite Tamora Piece characters, but a favourite all-time character. As a child I was so, so envious of her ability to work metal, and her skill combined with her toughness and loyalty meant I was torn between wanting to be her friend and wanting to be her. So this full-cast audio version is simply perfect. I'm getting so addicted to these readings.
I really loved this book. The only reason it's four stars instead of five stars is because I didn't connect at all with some of the magic used here- there are times of the kids being magically away from their bodies, and that completely takes me out of the experience of the book.
But that is literally my only complaint. Tamora Pierce does yet another fantastic job of writing young heroines realistically and powerfully. Daja Kisubo shines extremely brightly in this book. It continues the story of all of the kids, of course, and strengthens the CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP even further, but what stands out for me as different from Tris's Book is that Daja grows here, but only becomes truly more of who she is. Her goodness emanates out of her. Tris had to learn some other lessons for her growth, and was much more flawed than Daja is naturally (and I love Tris for it!).
This book also gives us a big glance into a particular part of Trader culture, and the story within that is my favorite of the Emelan stories so far- which is all I'll say as I don't want to give anything away! I will note that I hope Polyam returns in future books. :-)
This book definitely had an emphasis on Daja and I really enjoyed it. I've liked Daja ever since I first met her and I'm glad she finally got the chance to talk to another trader part of a caravan. I think she really grew a lot in this book and the ending made me so happy for her.
This book has the kids out on an adventure trying to help parts of the country with Sandry's Uncle the Duke. They get into a far bit of mischief but they do manage to help some, especially since they have unique gifts and their bond with each other. One thing that annoyed me in this book was the fire mage, Yarin(?), he kept going on and on about how there's only one right way to learn or do magic. I really would've like to see him defenestrated.
2020 Review: Still love how much we learn about the traders in this book! I like that there are really solid differences between trader culture and dominant Emelan culture, it's not just skin-deep. So many books will have a people who lives on the road but completely fail to develop them as their own culture, but this book doesn't do that.
I wish we got to see Daja make more living metal plants in the future, because that's also a really cool part of this book.
2018 Review: Ugh, these audiobooks are great but they take so much longer to finish than a physical book, so by the time I'm writing the review the beginning is kinda faded.
Anyway, finally reading this series continues to be a great idea. I love how this book really delves into Daja's feelings about being isolated from her people while keeping the relationship among the four kids as a focus too. You can tell this book has really grabbed my emotional investment because I was just as upset about what might happen to their intertwined magic as they were.
Other great things about this book were that weird magical metal plant Daja made, Polyam's entire character, and seeing the kids outside of Winding Circle. I think I was sort of put off by them suddenly being outside the temple community in the beginning, but eventually I realized it's a great way to challenge them, and cool to see how their little circle of magic clashes with the rest of the world. I also like how Yarrun looked like a bit of a cliche evil sorcerer in the beginning but he kind of turned into this nuanced tragic figure.
Also, the ending is great and made me think that this might be my favorite of the series. I don't know yet, because I have to read Briar's Book to finish up and I do think all three of the ones I've read have both their strengths and weaknesses. But Daja's Book is definitely a great installment.
Book: 4*. I was looking forward to re-reading this one because the climactic scene has stuck in my head all these years. That was still amazing: , but, oh man, don't know if the rest of it held up as well?
Mostly, I think my main criticism is that it took so long to get anywhere. The audiobook lasts about 5 hours and it felt like half that time passed before anything actually happened of worth. Granted, these books aren't plotty in the typical fantasy sense, but it was like... here we are in this dried up back country. Now we're going to meet some jerks, do some magic, whoops magic went wrong, yell about how dry it is (four hours later) AH OKAY NOW SOME ACTION. I love these books and this universe beyond reason and into crusty adulthood, and I was still like *Judge Judy tapping watch dot gif*
Stray thoughts/spoilers below cut:
Audiobook: Still solid. Whoever played Polyam* played up the 'yell into the microphone at the same pitch all the time' direction a little too much, but the gruff voice was otherwise perfect for the character. I'm going to admit all of the men pretty much sound the same to me in these books so far. My least favorite part about the audio narration for this book was that they spent some extra time (and money, I assume) on different musical transitions and they were more distracting than useful. There was one during a tense sense, I can't remember which one exactly, but then the scene divider was some dramatic music and a background chorus of people doing the dramatic BAHHHHHHMMMM thing, like in movie trailers, and it was so distracting I had to pause the book to laugh.
* A name that I discovered, in 2021, that I've been pronouncing wrong for... over 15 years now? lmao
I always loved the 3rd book of this quarter - in part because I love Daja, but also because I loved the resolution that she reaches with her past in this book. As always, I generally love the entire group and the growth of their relationships with each other (and the way their magic works is so interesting!)
Just delightful, once again--I think this might be my favorite of the series so far. It manages to build a broader world and take the consequences of the last two books very seriously, while also give the children agency in how they approach the problems. Daja's arc here is so compelling and interesting and it's (I think) a pretty beautiful conclusion to the narrative (though obviously her story continues!) I found the ending kind of predictable, but for me that didn't hamper the story at all, and in fact made it more satisfying than anything else.
While Tris's Book was a little weak and closely followed the pattern of Sandry's Book, Daja's Book mixes things up and it definitely benefits from this. The group is journeying with Sandry's uncle, trying to help areas that have been hit hard by drought and failing crops. The change of scenery is extremely refreshing for this series-- we get a lot of new characters, and our main cast is bumped out of their routines from Winding Circle. The focus, obviously, is on Daja, and it delves deep into her Trader identity, but Briar gets a lot of attention as well [setting up nicely for the next book]. I won't lie, I find Daja's magic extremely fascinating, but even that pales in comparison to what's really going on with the four's powers. Woven together by Sandry a few months ago, we saw some bleed-through of their magics in the previous book but here, they have serious consequences. Daja loses control of her magic and creates living metal, and Briar accidentally fries some plants when lightning jumps from his fingers. It's natural that the weaving of their powers resulted in this, but these new powers can be both a benefit and a disaster. I loved to see them deal with these results and it really showed how far these children have come in just a few months.
I'd forgotten how this whole series takes place in such a short period of time. This one is only 4 months after Sandry's Book. And then if I remember correctly, 4 years pass between Briar's Book and the Circle Opens quartet.
Thoughts on relationships: for all Tamora Pierce has said that Lark and Rosethorn were together, there is SCARCE evidence of it here. Lark calls Rosethorn "Rosie" and is able to share her power with her when she won't accept anyone else's. But Rosethorn is still referred to as her "friend". How anyone was supposed to pick up on this, I do not know. No signs of Daja being gay yet, either, unless we were supposed to think she's stereotypically butch because she is a smith and is always described as not having a waist.
As for racial diversity, I hadn't picked up as a kid that both Lark and Briar were described as having some eastern/far eastern traits, or that at least one of them is mixed. I'm interested to see what else I missed as I continue with this universe.
Daja, Tris, Briar, and Sandry are traveling Emelan with the Duke to see what they can do about the drought and subsequent famine that is plaguing the area. During this tour, Daja runs into a group of traders - people of the culture that shunned her after her entire family died at sea. But when disaster strikes, will the Traders allow Daja to help or will their pride get in the way?
I am crazy about this entire series, it is one of my constant rereads. Daja is an amazingly courageous individual and I have nothing but the utmost respect for her. Her family dies and she gets exiled from the only life she's ever known but she is still so forgiving of her people. I honestly don't know that I could say that. Daja is more gracious than she has any right to be. Highly recommended!
My Take After two books of adventure, the kids are amazing together. It's teamwork and friendship as they come to a greater understanding of how the magic bond they share works. Talking about support, I absolutely adored (and laughed) when Sandry, Briar, and Tris stood up for Daja and forced Polyam to treat Daja with politeness and all the trimmings.
Daja discovers a new ability by accident, growing metal into a plant with leaves that grow. It also brings her courage, the confidence to insist on bargaining directly with the Traders.
Ooh, that rivalry between Niko and Firetamer is intense, and one of the reasons for Firetamer's insecurity. There's a good lesson in here for your own children, one of accepting one's limitations. Of becoming comfortable with it, but not complacent. There's also an environmental lesson in here, one we've only come to understand these past few decades about the importance of fire in a forest. A secondary lesson in this is that one never stops learning. God knows I'm always learning something new!
Sandry has a nice bit of wisdom for Daja, that since she is no longer a Trader, she is her own person. That she can make her own status, to stand up for herself. Daja raises her own questions about fame and envy.
I hate people like those in Gold Ridge, more interested in status and showing off.
That was unfair of Niko, scolding the kids for something they did when he never said anything before.
Little bits of background are dropped by Sandry, Frostpine (the betrayal of his parents was huge), Lark, and the reason Polyam lost her status (damn these Traders are superstitious people!).
The Story Fires are ravaging Gold Ridge Valley, and Duke Vedris has brought the kids to see what they can do to help.
It's a new aspect of her magic, making metal grow, creating a net of metal that can smother fire. A skill that will save many lives and create enough zokin that Daja's name will be added back onto the records of the Tsaw'ha.
The Characters Winding Circle temple Daja Kisubo was once a Trader, but after a shipwreck in which she was the only survivor, her people have cast her out. She's trangshi, and she does not exist to Traders anymore. Lady Sandrilene "Sandry" is a noble, the great-niece of Duke Vedris. Her magic lies in weaving and spinning. Pirisi was her Trader nurse who died protecting her. Briar Moss was a street rat before Niko found him; now he exercises his earth magic. Trisana "Tris" Chandler loves to read and has a power over nature.
The Dedicates who are in charge at Discipline Cottage are Rosethorn, a powerful earth dedicate with an affinity for growing whose childhood was on a farm, and Lark is a thread-mage whose skill lies with weaving whose past includes juggling and dancing. They only accept mageborn.
Frostpine is a smith-mage, one of the greatest and Daja's teacher. Niklaren "Niko" Goldeye is a wandering mage who finds things and people who are hidden. He's also the kids' instructor.
Duke Vedris IV rules Emelan.
Gold Ridge Valley has its… …own gold: saffron. Lady Inoulia fa Juzon is the valley's ruler and something of a snob. Yarrun Firetamer is the mage who puts out the fires in the valley. He's an insecure braggart whose pride and ignorance ends up killing him. His father, Ulmerin Valeward, is also a mage. Khalib ul Hanoh is the village smith where Daja creates her plant.
Traders in the Tenth Caravan Idaram Polyam is the wirok of Tenth Caravan Idaram, and she can't speak to Daja even though she has very low status among her people (she lost a leg in a rockslide). Chandrisa is the gilav! They prize cooking and bargaining.
Wirok buys supplies for the caravan; they bring no profit and so they are of the second lowest status. Mimanders are Trader mages while a xurdin is a general term for mages. A gilav is a caravan boss. A hamot is a fool who will accept the first offer made. Qunsuanen is a person who has undergone qunsua, a ceremony that supposedly protects a Trader if she must speak with a trangshi *major eye roll*. Zokin is the credit listed against your name in a Trader's ledgers and encompasses both the money you accumulate and your personal status within the caravan. Lugsha are artisans. Kaq is a rude word that means outsider. Daka are higher-status Traders. Blue Traders travel the seas. White Traders travel in snow or sand. Tsaw'ha is the Trader name for themselves.
The Cover and Title The cover is golden with its yellow green sky and a darker yellow green hazy forest with great golden blades of grass rising up from the base of the cover, both framing a black cloaked figure on a white horse.
The title is who the focus of the story is on, for it's Daja's Book.
This book picks up with Daja, Briar, Tris and Sandry in a northern area of Emelan, a place that is currently suffering from a three-year drought and some potentially nasty grass fires (which may turn into a forest fire...) and essentially get to learn more about themselves and their magic, while assisting with the area under threat.
The focus on Daja was clear in this one (the book title made sense, yay!) as we got to learn a lot of Daja's history as a trader, and also a lot about the trader culture in general - what with a large portion of this book focusing on the "trading" of an accidental creation of Daja's to a caravan of traders that were in the area.
It made me SO MANY to see just how Daja was treated as a trangshi, and I hated how Polyam was treated by her own family purely because she'd been in an accident that caused her to lose a leg (and also her "looks" too I guess)... and that she was essentially treated as useless (which, rude). It was great that dealings to decide how best to trade the that Daja was able to finally reconnect - at least somewhat - with her people, and that by the end Daja was welcomed back as one of them . The creation of that bionic limb was AWESOME and I really love how Tamora Pierce was able to combine the modern technology of today with the magic of this book to create something that was workable and believable in the environment while still making sense to the reader.
This was okay, I liked how they realised that they were stronger when they mixed their powers, but still found a way to try to split their powers so they didn't leak. It was also nice how Daja managed to find a way to lift her status with the traders, it wasn't exactly fair that she was labelled and outcast, because she was the only survivor when her family's ship went down 🤦
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
While I was moved by the ending (it did crack me up a bit not gonna lie) and loved Daja's character arc, it dragged a little bit to me. But that could be because I read it as an e-book, so maybe I would have been more immersed in the story if I could have read it physically (with emphasis on 'could' because it's close to impossible to find a reasonable copy of it). Still, I found it endearing. Especially love how magic is portrayed interwoven with craftsmanship, and the bonds the characters share to each other which feels realistic and genuine. Though I read it as an adult I just know it would have been a perfect read for my younger self, she definetely would have loved it with an obsessive passion.
The Circle of Magic series just keeps getting better, as does Daja. Daja's Book gives us an incredible look into Trader culture and into Daja's past, present, and future. You can feel her loneliness, cast out from her people, with no hope of ever even being able to speak to them or trade with them again. It was also nice to get out of Winding Circle and experience more of Emelan.
The quartet's magic has now been so over-tangled, it's expressing itself on its own and they seem to have no control over it. While for some of them this leads to positive discoveries, others find themselves unable to complete tasks they love. They must find a way to straighten out their magics without endangering themselves or losing their connection with each other.
In the Gold Ridge Mountains, Daja comes across a Trader caravan and feels the loss of her people deeply. It's one thing to know you've been cast out, to carry around your staff with its unmarked brass, and to miss your family. It's another to come face-to-face with everything becoming trangshi has changed in your life. Daja becomes a real character with depth here. Her loss and longing are haunting, but it's nice to see her friends support her without judgment.
Sometimes the selection of audiobooks through my library (i.e., free audiobooks) are quite limited.
Case in point.
That said, this is the third --- yes, third book I've read in this series. Why? The reviews sounded great, and I think I like Tamora Pierce. I can't remember why I think that, but I do.
It's quite possible that this is another one of those unfortunate books (as is The Raven Boys series) that lost its stars due to the narrator. I don't think it was a bad book, but when you're listening to someone that annoys you, you can't help but wish they'd shut the hell up already.
Again, case in point.
True story: this is narrated by a full cast. I didn't mind any of the voices except for the main narrator. She sounded like Frasier's ice queen ex-wife, Lilith. Very robotic. But get this: I looked it up, and the voice that annoyed me is the author! How funny is that?? And! One of the male voices is Bruce Coville -- and I'm in the middle of reading his Unicorn Chronicles (recommended). Into the Land of the Unicorns Weird coincidence.
Anyway -- I don't know if I'll get around to the 4th and last book in this series. Sorry, Tamora. I think.
The Circle books are written for a younger audience than many of Tamora Pierce's novels, but they are still excellent. Daja's Book, the third in the series, is almost an environmental message of a book. It is intense, more so than either of the volumes that precede it, and will keep readers on the edge of their seats. It seems to carry a message about forest care, but can also be respected as a good young adult book.
A great third book in this series. I loved leaving Winding Circle and discovering more of this world. I also loved learning more about Daja's and also Frostpine's pasts. Daja has a particularly compelling journey, because not only is she confronted with her old people, who banished her, but she is also confronted with the more dangerous side of fire, which she has worked with as part of her magic every day since coming to Winding Circle. An excellent read, again.
Looking at my previous review, I still agree that this is a nice break from the change of pace that we see in the first two books of this series. While this book obviously suggests by the title that Daja will be the major force behind the resolution, the other children of Winding Circle of course have their parts to play. Their magic, spun together in the first book, has become *too* intertwined and causes trouble due to the unexpectedness of each others' powers appearing, and not knowing how to control them. So, a lot of the side story is about untangling those threads (literally and figuratively), and the kids don't have their magic as a result during this process, which makes for an interesting narrative as they're forced to do things *without* magic for the first time since discovering it.
I finally feel like one of the books in this quartet hit what I wanted. This book also has a big disaster the four kids must fight (forest fires), but unlike in the other books, it doesn't take over the whole story. Their teachers aren't saying we don't have time to teach you because of xyz thing. The forest fires are constantly going on, but also don't affect them directly for a lot of the book.
Because we're not focused on that, it actually gives them time to develop their relationships and their magic a bit. It feels like for so much of this book you actually get to see Daja's feelings about her own life, instead of just feelings on forest fires or pirates. There's a lot of dealing with her being exiled by her people, Traders, and missing the old life she used to have.
The kids are also starting to get a few parameters for their magic, which is something that I didn't realize was lacking until this book. There's still kind of a sense that they can do anything with magic, which limits believability and consequences to a degree, but they're starting to learn their limits and starting to learn control.
So far, this is my favorite of the series. I'm glad to read one that better than okay, that I was actually excited to pick up and get through.