May 23, 2022

REVIEW Magic Steps (The Circle Opens Book 1) by Tamora Pierce

Magic Steps (The Circle Opens Book 1) by Tamora Pierce
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Release Date: November 15, 2006 (originally published March 1, 2000)
Format: Paperback (Personal Library) + Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Scholastic 

Readers were initially introduced to the quartet of Sandry, Briar, Tris, and Daja in the Circle of Magic books. Now, we get to see them (slightly) more grown-up and taking on students of their own in the Circle Opens series.  

As the first book in the follow-up series to the original Circle of Magic books, Magic Steps felt much more mature than the original books. It builds upon the original books, and even adds additional elements to heighten the stakes. Instead of dealing with natural disasters, Lady Sandrilene fa Toren, or Sandry, and her student Pasco must help catch a group of serial killers on the loose in Summersea. Sandry ends up turning into something of a detective, and it's a lot of fun to see. There are also multiple times when Sandry must assert her rights as a fully accredited mage and a high-ranking noble, and I was quite amused to see her dressing down fully grown adults. Never fear though - while this book is darker and more depressing, it does end on a happy note. 

The worldbuilding and magic system in the Emelan books remains one of my favorites of all time. Tamora Pierce built on what readers knew about ambient magic from the first series and introduced an entirely new style of magic that even the experienced mages of Winding Circle have never heard of - dance magic. It was fun to see how they crafted Pasco’s unique training program (and what his first bout of accidental magic did). I’d love to see a short story about how the newest residents of Discipline Cottage are doing in the future. 

The one thing that could have made this book better would be if the other members of the quartet (Briar, Daja, and Tris) had made an appearance. I’m eager for more of their interactions, and what we get in this series and the companion novel Will of the Empress wasn’t enough. Either way, Magic Steps was a fantastic read (and a fantastic re-read) so I’m excited to re-read Street Magic next and revisit the story of Evy and Briar.

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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