June 27, 2022

REVIEW Street Magic (The Circle Opens Book 2) by Tamora Pierce

Street Magic (The Circle Opens Book 2) 
by Tamora Pierce
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: November 15, 2006 (originally published April 1, 2001)
Format: Paperback (Personal Library) + Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Scholastic 

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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. Sandry was first, and now it's our budding plant mage’s turn in Tamora Pierce’s Street Magic

Briar is the second of the quartet to discover a young mage with ambient magic (arguably in a very similar way to how Niko discovered him), and he has his work cut out for him. Karma’s a cruel mistress though because Evy gives him just as much trouble (if not more) as he gave Rosethorn and Niko when his powers were first discovered. As Rosethorn remarks, Evy is “even more feral” than he was. While Sandry also discovers a new mage in Magic Steps, Briar and Evy's story is much more complicated and compelling. For example, many of the books Briar features include discussions about classism. Briar often struggles with the disparity between how he grew up (as a street rat member of a gang) and how he has now become a member of the mage class (a group that is often held at a distance, despite the respect and fear they inspire). He sees a lot of himself in Evy, and it's a struggle to not revert to his old tricks and habits. Evy’s character arc is much bigger, and you get to see her grow more than Pasco (Sandry’s student does). And, of course, my favorite teacher out of all the mentors featured in the series is Rosethorn. She’s a total badass, and I would not want to be on her bad side (the local stone mage learns that the hard way during the story). 

It was interesting that the author, Tamora Pierce, did not participate in the narration of this book unlike many of the other Emelan audiobooks. Bruce Coville takes over the major parts of the narration instead, which is likely due to needing a male voice with Briar narrating the book (I’m not sure, so don’t quote me on that). I really enjoyed the performance, and I will be on the lookout for more Full Cast audio productions in the future. 

The final part of the book is awesome! Rosethorn and Briar often get underestimated for being plant mages, and relegated to just assisting with healing. Getting to see Briar unleash his powers as a fully trained and accredited plant mage was fun and would make a great cinematic scene if these series were ever adapted into a film or TV show. Tamora Pierce did another great job once again expanding the existing worldbuilding, and what readers know about the capabilities of ambient mages in the Emelan universe. I hope she gets a chance to finish the book featuring Tris’ study at Lightbridge, as I would love the chance to learn more about academic mages in the world of Emelan. 

Overall, another amazing book by Tamora Pierce. I really enjoyed this re-read, and I’m looking forward to finishing my The Circle Opens series re-read soon. The one thing that could have made this book better would be if the other members of the quartet (Sandry, 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, Street Magic was a fantastic read (and a fantastic re-read) so I’m excited to re-read Cold Fire next and revisit the story of Daja and her students.

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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