Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Review of Tamora Pierce's Sandry's Book

cover design: Ursula Albano.
Cover painting: Theron
circa First Scholastic trade
paperback printing, September 1999 
Or.... Welcome to Winding Circle folks. :) Today I have for you an author whose work I fell in love with a few years back. Doesn't matter that these are for a YA audience, I just think the world of them. So what is this?

Well.... It's Tamora Pierce’s third fantasy series, The Circle of Magic.

Circle of Magic: Sandry's Book
by Tamora Pierce
My review copy was snagged at a local store....a couple four or five years back now.

 Released in 1997, The Circle of Magic: Sandry's Book introduced another set of characters, a little younger than her beloved Alanna. Here, four children are rescued by a mage and taken to a place of learning, and refuge. Sandry, Briar, Tris, and Daja.

To spare her from the mob that blames her family for a deadly plague, Sandrilene fa Toren’s nursemaid places her in a tower. Alone, in the dark, she learns to weave strips of cloth, and light, to spare herself from insanity. Until the mage Niklaren Goldeye (AKA. Niko) comes and releases her from her prison with the awful news that her entire family, her nursemaid, everyone she knew has perished. He takes her to the Winding Circle Temple to heal, and offers her a chance to learn what to do with her weaving magic if she will only agree to live peacefully among the varied children there.

Trisana Chandler’s family reviles and casts her out. Her crime? She never manifested her magic. But little did her family know what her magic would consist of once it did manifest. Niko has noticed that potential, her affinity for the weather, and what trouble she may cause, if her power is left unchecked. So he takes her under his wing, and gives her a new home at the Winding Circle Temple.

Daja is a Trader, who lost her entire family in a shipwreck, only to be rescued by Niko and likewise given refuge and instruction in Winding Circle.

And lastly, Briar Moss (nee Roach) is a boy with a puzzling affinity for growing things, puzzling, as he is also thief. And having been arrested two times already, for his deeds, he’s in very big trouble. But as Roach/Briar is facing the judges, Niko comes forth and offers the boy a choice. He can submit to the banishment the court is about to hand down, or he can go with Niko to his school at Winding Circle, take on a new life (which is where the new name Briar Moss gets taken up) and learn a new trade and possibly become a priest, in the future.

All four of these children set up at Winding Circle, not without trouble, and soon the instructors decide to move them to their own accommodations, away from the rest of the school’s population. Here, they begin to build bonds, as Niko and his fellow mages begin to curtail the children’s inner demons. Along the way, the children learn to control a little of their powers, which may come in handy when disaster strikes, putting their new home in jeopardy.

So what happens in this book? Once again, you can find out just by reading. Again, like the Alanna series, it is a YA novel, but one a little less complicated than Ms. Pierce’s previous series. I gather it was written for a younger audience (her site says ages ten and up). Nonetheless, I found Sandry’s Book a very enjoyable read (even though I’m far older than the target age group!), full of everything that makes for a good high fantasy, and even some hints that this new world is tied into Tortall.

My rating? Well, I've loved everything I've read by Tamora Pierce (*forgive the momentary fangirl Squee*), and I intend to read more in this series, as I have in her previous Alanna, so this should come as no surprise:

I purchased my copy so long ago (four or five years ago.... or heck, maybe it's been longer than that) I don’t remember where around Town I snagged it (either a thrift store or some local used bookstore, I can’t recall). But, I recently purchased a second copy at the Barnes and Noble for my nephews ;), so I know it is still available in brick and mortar stores. Or, of course, you can find a copy from or, if you’d like to check it out.
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