November 20, 2021

Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic #1) by Tamora Pierce

Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic, #1)Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic #1) by Tamora Pierce
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: June 24, 2006 (first published September 1, 1997)
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic

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This year’s re-read of Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce was by no means my first reread, and it certainly won’t be my last. Even after more than a decade, it has never been anything less than five stars for me. Sandry’s Book opens up the world of Emelan, which is covered over the course of multiple series and standalone books.

At its heart, the Circle of Magic Quartet books are a story of a found family. Sandry, Daja, Tris, and Briar come from vastly different walks of life. They turn out to be rejected, and they are brought together by Niklaren Goldeye to train in their respective magics at the Winding Circle temple. They end up finding those who end up as siblings to them, as well as mentors (who at times serve as stand-in parents). It was refreshing to see them work through relatable personal issues. There was no “a group of children become chosen ones and have to save the day and stop a villain” plot in this book. No big battle for a climax, but their personal struggles were just as compelling and emotional.

The magic system in the Emelan world is one of my favorites. There are two types of magic; ambient and academic. An ambient mage takes their power from things outside of themselves, like the wind or the earth. None of the children’s magic works in the same way, and Niko is able to connect them with teachers who are able to help them master their gifts (even if their magic does not work exactly the same, like Niko’s academic magic and Tris’ weather abilities). I’m able to speak from the benefit of hindsight and reading the other books in the series, but Ms. Pierce’s expansion on the magic system (especially in books like Will of the Empress) is awe-inspiring. No mage operates in the exact same way - nothing is “cookie-cutter” and I love that.

I would happily and enthusiastically recommend the Circle of Magic Quartet books to fantasy readers of all ages. Middle-grade readers should start with this series, while readers at the young adult level would most likely prefer the series that are set in Tortall (Song of the Lioness, Protector of the Small, and Daughter of the Lioness are some of the best). Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite authors of all time (one of my very few “auto-buy” authors) - I can usually be found singing the praises of her books to anyone who asks.

Interested in the other books in the series?

About the Author

TAMORA PIERCE is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over eighteen novels set in the fantasy realm of Tortall. She first captured the imagination of readers with her debut novel, Alanna: The First Adventure. Since then, her bestselling and award-winning titles have pushed the boundaries of fantasy and young adult novels to introduce readers to a rich world populated by strong, believable heroines. Her books have been translated into many languages, and some are available on audio from Listening Library and Full Cast Audio. In 2013, she won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.” Pierce lives in Syracuse, New York, with her husband, Tim, and their cats, birds, and occasional rescued wildlife. 

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