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Circle of Magic #1

Sandry's Book

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With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic - and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home. Can Sandry weave together four kinds of magical power and save herself, her friends, and the one place where they've ever been accepted?

252 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 1, 1997

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About the author

Tamora Pierce

106 books83.5k followers
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!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,301 reviews
Profile Image for Nettle.
180 reviews55 followers
February 8, 2012
I've gone back to this book so many times over the years that my copy is actually starting to fall apart. This is the book that got me started with fantasy, and I still follow Tamora Pierce's blog and watch out for any new books by her over ten years later.

This is one of those books that definitely changed my life, it's also one of those books I go back to when I need to read something easy, to forget the world around me for a bit. These books have gotten me through everything from trouble at school, to deaths in the family and have their own shelf in the hall.

Personally, I rate these books on par with the Keladry series, but higher than the Alanna or Diane sets, and although it feels like they're aimed at a slightly younger audience, that allows a good progression through all of Tamora's works. Start off with the four Circle books as a younger reader, after those read the Alanna four, go back to the next circle books, and then the Diane and Keladry sets, before finishing with the final two Circle books. (With another coming some time this year!)

I'd recommend this to any young girl just getting interested in reading, and maybe a few boys too!
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
2,078 reviews5,039 followers
May 22, 2023
Shout out to Bethany for inviting me to join in on this journey of reading even more Tamora Pierce. I read the Song of the Lioness quarter with her a while back and I was excited to pick up another series by her. Sandry's Book has layers that I did not expect and definitely led to an interesting conversation during our liveshow. 4.5 Stars

Sandry's Book is the first book in the Circle of Magic series and follows four misfits who learn how to use their magic. The four characters include Briar, Sandry, Tris, and Daja. While this first installment is an introduction to their powers/abilities. It is clear that the four will connect in ways that will assist them in saving their community.

What Worked: Let me tell ya'll something! Tamora Pierce can write her a** off. Every time I dive into one of her books, I'm pleasantly surprised at the complexity within the characters and the plot. It's even more amazing to note how long ago some of these books were published. The element that stood out the most to me in my read of this first book was the character development. Briar, Sandry, Tris, and Daja deal with a great deal of trauma before they arrive at the Winding Circle community. Pierce works hard to give readers insight to their experiences while also providing each character support through the adult characters especially since a lot of them haven't experienced that love and support prior to their arrival at Winding Circle. During the live show we learned that Pierce studied psychology and was a "house mother" at a group home. This is extremely evident in the way in which she handles each character. They're not only healing within, but learning to trust each other and the adults around them. There are quite a few therapeutic practices that Pierce includes within the text that are vital to managing ones emotions at any stage in live. It was refreshing to read this as an adult! While I enjoyed all of the characters, I fell in love with Briar! He's been through so much and it's evident in his behavior. Watching him flourish in a place where he finally receives so much care and love made my heart melt.

The only thing that I struggled with in this book was the pacing, but it was definitely an enjoyable read and HIGHLY recommend checking out the series. If you're interested in hearing more of my thoughts, check out the live show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OI_A...
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,202 reviews3,674 followers
May 26, 2023
Discussion: https://youtube.com/live/6OI_AuWgt30

I love this series so much and it's a joy to re-read it after quite a number of years! Found family, magic, friendship, and diverse representation that was pretty ahead of its time. This middle grade fantasy series follows four orphaned children with traumatic pasts and untapped potential who are brought together at Winding Circle to be trained in elemental magic. They form unlikely bonds and are fostered by mages Lark and Rosethorn (a sapphic couple I adore!)

Sandry is highborn and has thread/weaving magic, but she lost her unconventional parents to a devastating outbreak that she barely survived. She seems like she has it all together, but really has a deep fear of the dark as a trauma response.

Daja is the only surviving member of her Trader family, outcast by her community as unlucky after a shipwreck claimed every life but hers. She has an affinity for metals but is conflicted about her magic because she was raised to stay away from crafting work.

Briar grew up as an orphaned street rat, but has a deep love of plants and magic to go with it. He's rough around the edges, but has a soft heart.

Tris was sold by her family to the temple and is used to being the ugly duckling that no one likes. She's prickly because of fatphobic bullying and teasing about her glasses. But she has powerful weather magic that she needs to learn to control. Because when her temper gets the better of her, strange things tend to happen...

It's so fun seeing the four of them meet and connect for the first time, I can't wait to keep reading!
Profile Image for Courtney.
743 reviews158 followers
August 17, 2015
So, I love this series. LOVE it.

I like everything Pierce has written to some extent (haven't read the white tiger stuff yet), but it's always been this series (the Emelan universe) above all others. If I ever had to choose what one series to take to a desert island, with nothing else to read for the rest of my life, this would be the series. Over Harry Potter, Hunger Games, whatever.

This book especially is the one I've read the most over the years (probably in part because the rest of the extended series was slowly being published), and the one I always eventually went back to. I don't even know how many times I've actually read it.

So I was super excited, after coming across the Mark Reads/Watches site, that he had read and like the Tortall books and was planning on reading the Emelan books as well. If you're not familiar with his site, it's... similar to audio books, I guess.

He reads the books out loud on Youtube, only it's interspersed with his own reactions and thoughts as he reads and reacts to what he's reading. He is very emotive, which only makes it that much more entertaining. It's everything you usually wish for when introducing a friend to something you love, and watching how they react, hoping they love it too. That's probably why it's so entertaining.

Plus there's the discussions and commentary by his fans on each chapter, giving you a chance to discuss the series with other fans afterwards.

He read this book starting back in October, despite my only listening to it now. At the moment, he's already reading Cold Fire from the Circle Opens (as well as some of Pratchett's novels), so there's several videos up to watch. I'd suggest having a copy of the book at hand, however, so you can follow along as he reads - the extra commentary might be confusing to some, and he can read quickly at some points.

Yet another way to enjoy one of my all-time favourite books!
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,768 reviews1,768 followers
May 1, 2015
Sandry’s Book is the first book of Tamora Pierce’s I’ve read that wasn’t set in Tortall, and I enjoyed it very much. It was a compact, precise little book all about people coming together. And, you know, magic and stuff.

Fair warning, though. My reading of the book probably suffered because it was my second book in the 24 Hour Readathon a couple of weeks ago. I was highly buzzed on coffee for the first half of the book, and during the second I was so hungry I thought I was going to fall over, die, and then my head would cave in. I also read it much faster than I normally would have.

Sandry’s Book (also known as Magic in the Weaving) is the first book of the Circle of Magic series, which follows four kids who live the fictional land of Emelan, where magic is real. Each book centers on one of the kids. Obviously, this time around it’s Sandry. This book also introduces us not only to the world, but to where the kids come from and how they all ended up at the Winding Circle temple, a place where they can learn to use their magic. It’s sort of a magic school novel in that way, but Winding Circle isn’t as much a school as it is a retreat from the world.

Speaking of the kids, they’re the best part of the book. Sandry is actually Sandrilene fa Toren, an orphaned noble whose parents died in a smallpox outbreak. She discovered her magic while locked in a closet for days, hiding from a mob–she spun light into yarn she was holding so she wouldn’t have to be in the dark. She is taken to Winding Circle by a mysterious man named Nico soon after. Briar (a former thief with an affinity for plants), Daja (a Trader whose entire family was killed in a shipwreck), and Tris (whose moods manifest themselves in the weather, and who can hear voices) find themselves arriving at Winding Circle in a similar manner. It seems all four have been brought there because their magic is different than traditional sorcery, it’s more practical, and based in the real world (weaving, plants, metals, weather). The author’s endnote states that Pierce was inspired by watching her sister and mother knit things, and how the act of creating something beautiful with your hands is its own kind of magic.

I liked that the four of them weren’t friends right away, or even most of the way through the novel. They all had too many issues they had to work out on their own first. And work they do. But it’s a pleasure to watch the kids change and grow into being friends with one another. Pierce, as always, makes her world feel ridiculously real by not ignoring issues of class or race or cultural differences. All those things have a prominent place in the story.

I think this was geared towards a younger audience than I was expecting (the kids are all around age eleven), but I ended up liking it. I do think all four of these books were mistitled. The secondary titles are much better, and not only because calling a book Sandry’s Book or Tris’s Book is boring, but because this isn’t really Sandry’s book. Sure there’s that thing that happens at the end, but Briar and Tris and even Daja get more play in this book than Sandry, the title character, does.

I’m definitely checking out the other books in this series. I think I may even end up liking it better than some of the earlier Tortall books.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,507 reviews855 followers
October 3, 2018
A lovely story. I would have loved this as a child and it was still endearing as a well seasoned adult!
Profile Image for Sebastien Castell.
Author 47 books4,305 followers
February 29, 2020
Like so many readers, I adored Tamora Pierce's Alanna books. Strangely, I've never been able to get into her other series, of which there are many that are beloved by readers everywhere. The first Circle of Magic book was, alas, no exception.

The book opens with us meeting the four different kids who find themselves rejected by their respective societies and will ultimately be brought together by the enigmatic mage Niko. It's an engaging opening and there's lots to appreciate about these characters. What comes later, however, never quite jelled for me.

It's worth mentioning that this series is meant for younger readers, which in no way deters adults from enjoying them, but does mean that you shouldn't pay too much attention to adults who don't. It's not the job of this book to speak to me—especially if doing so takes away from it being enjoyed by young readers for whom its intended.

That said, I found the narrative point of view a bit jarring, with Pierce jumping from one character's head to another inside the same scenes. Maybe I'm too use to the modern close point of view style, but I often lost track of who was thinking what. I also never quite got a strong sense of what the story was really about until quite late in the book when the big threat appears—from what I could tell out of nowhere—and is then quickly dispatched. This was very much a "coming together" book in which the four go from strangers to fast friends, so perhaps those who continue with the series will be rewarded with a larger story that engages them. Despite my tremendous admiration for Tamora Pierce, I don't think I'll be one of them with this series. Fortunately, however, with all her other series on offer, I'm keen to go find one that resonates with me.
919 reviews255 followers
July 28, 2017
Sandry was never my favourite of the four young mages in this series - thread magic simply never seemed that interesting to a ten-year-old surrounded constantly by craft and textiles. Metal and plants seemed far more intriuguing, perhaps because I respectively didn't have much experience of/had no skill with either. Plus, there was the whole blond wealthy noble thing: I just didn't relate to her.

Well, the irony is that I now have a largely textile based practice, and am obsessed with fibres and threads and fabrics of all kinds. Sandry's magic is looking pretty tantalising right about now!

I think this first quartet is aimed at a slightly younger audience than Tamora's other series, but that doesn't mean it isn't just as excellent. The full-cast audio production is fantastic - I've become a little addicted, to be honest, and don't quite know what I'll do when I've made my way through all the Circle of Magic, Circle Opens and Wild Magic audiobooks... It seems Full Cast Audio productions have ceased, which is hugely disappointing.
Profile Image for Ai Miller.
576 reviews37 followers
August 27, 2020
This book is SUCH a good book for our current pandemic times; I said somewhere that Tamora Pierce books are 50% learning meditation, 50% crafting, and I stand by that but it's clearly deliberate with this series in particular. Just so soft and soothing to read, even the dramatic parts. And the character are fun even if they don't really feel super fleshed out in this space, and the relationships with mentors are so good. I'll definitely be rereading the rest of the series, but this was so good in this moment so if you need something short and soft, check it out!
Profile Image for Nicko Mocanu (Elril Moonweaver).
204 reviews101 followers
July 28, 2018
Some things remain constant in life. It happens to me occasionally and my dislike for this series is one such occasion.

May contain spoilers! Read at your own risk!
Wait a minute, I don't think this review even has spoilers, because there is NOTHING TO SPOIL!

When it comes to the Circle of Magic series, I thought I would give it another shot and read it in English this time since I was not at all impressed by how it was in Romanian. Turns out I was not impressed with the English Version either. And if you just bear with me for a moment I will explain why. But first, let me go through my ordinary review sequence.

When it comes to the setting, this world is really flimsy, in terms of world-building. There are a whole lot of cultures here thrown on the page and we, as the readers, have to accept them. No, thanks, I do not have to accept this mish-mash that is supposed to be an attempt at writing a believable world. The world is far from believable and, for God's sake, we don't even have a map! In a fantasy world, if there is no map in order to actually pinpoint where said places are, I am lost. I know many people don't like using maps, but no one can deny their practicality in such situations. The atmosphere, except for the eventual "Hogwarts-y" type of atmosphere, is really pissing me off, and i mean it's almost non-existant.

The plot is one of the things that the book almost completely lacks. Some characters make a hint to the existence of some sort of threat, but my god man, 60 % in the first book, the characters have barely met each other and are doing chores, because hey, they're kids, why not. So 60 % in the novel, there there are no clear signs of a plot... anywhere >.>

I have to address the cast. The main and secondary characters are so dull. Aside from having no sort of chemistry between themselves, the main characters - Daja, Sandry, Tris and Briar - they seem to make it their life mission to not have interaction of the natural sort with any of the secondary characters either.
Daja is this lone, silent type of character, with a lot of hardship behind her and she also seems to be the most mature of the four youngsters and her powers show the most potential.
Tris is a rejectee and cannot control her emotions that directly influence the weather around her. Of all the characters she is my least favorite.
Briar is a thief and has a secret interest in plants. Of all the characters I find him the most endearing, though he can be mean-spirited and a total prick sometimes with no real and palpable reason. I say that he's the most endearing because he seems to be the most fleshed out of all the characters and he does seem to have a more easy to grasp backstory and most of the other characters.
Even though this book is named after her, Sandry does not appear all that much, the main focus is instead on Briar and Daja, most of the times. She is the stuck-up, cloudcoocoolander, bossy type of charcter that likes the idea of befriending people and not giving a rat's ass what other people say. Of all the characters I find her backstory to be the least understandable and even though I read it twice I still dunno how she got herself into that situation that she had to be taken out of by Master Niko.
Master... Niko? Really? This guy has my freaking name and he's a mage. He's supposed to be this sort of mentor figure to the four of them, but I get the impression that none of them actually look up to him.
The other characters are really one dimensional, Lark and Rosethorn I cannot distinguish between the two of them and rest is down the drain.

When it comes to the writing I just have to say that it is not engaging, not humorous, not enthralling and while it is a children's book primarily (see page count - it's 10 times smaller than A Dance with Dragons) I don't think I would've been captivated with it even if I were the same age as the book is meant to be. Because I can't connect with the characters. And the use of third person limited is so jarring that after the main character eventually do come together, the 3rd person limited tends to still be used instead of shifting to omniscient. And the vocabulary used, does tend to be rather juvenile at times. I mean instead of proper swear words of at least using something that resembles a palpable swear the terms used are along the lines of "donkey dung" and "cat dirt".

Cool Story... Eww

I. am not. kidding.

Let's Rate This - 2.2 / 10

Setting and Atmosphere - 2
Plot - 3
Main Characters - 4
Secondary Characters - 1
Antagonists - 1
Writing - 3
Enjoyability - 2

So yeah i don't think I'll continue the series, because hey, why would I waste time reading something I don't like. nd I'll probably take it out of my reading list too :/

Ok back to Mistborn :D

My other reviews :D
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books468 followers
August 8, 2023
I somehow missed reading Tamora Pierce as a kid :( this is definitely my favorite of hers that I've read as an adult so far! RTC (and I really mean that because school is over for the semester so I have no excuses now)
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,446 reviews548 followers
April 25, 2012
Sandry hides from a smallpox epidemic in a cupboard--only to find that she's trapped inside. When her candle runs out, she is comforted by a glow in her embroidery.
Daja survives a shipwreck by willing a supply box toward her.
A petty thief, Briar is thrown in jail and tends to the moss he finds there.
Tris is tormented at school, but her bullies find themselves threatened by wild winds.

None of them have traditional forms of magic, but Niko Goldeneye believes they might have hidden powers. He hopes to teach them to harness their gifts, before their uncontrolled power leads to tragedy. But though the children are thrilled to be taught, they're wary of associating with each other.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. The characters' personalities come across in a ham-handed way, and their hidden fears and powers are hardly subtle. But I think that's mostly because this is YA for a younger crowd (under 15) than I'm used to. The magic is wonderfully described. No matter how exciting the action or weird the magic, I was always clear on what was happening. I've heard this mocked as having "weather for a villain," but that was actually a positive point, for me. The climax is "just" the children , but it was very stirring, and I was glad to find that the scope was kept personal. I'm tired of heroes having to save the kingdom, the world, the universe; it's a refreshing change to have them struggle to just save themselves.
Profile Image for Kayla Edwards.
481 reviews32 followers
August 30, 2021
Sandry, Briar, Tris, and Daja meet one another and find out about their unique abilities in this first installment of the wonderful Emelan universe. They don't exactly get along. But when their very lives are threatened, can they learn to work together to save themselves?

This is probably my fifth or sixth reread of the entire series. I cannot express my love for these books enough. Sandry is a spunky little noble with great big ideas about honor and protecting others. She wants nothing more than for everyone in her new household to get along - a tall order, to be sure. Watching her explore her newfound magic with thread is incredible and I cannot recommend this book, and those that follow, enough.
Profile Image for TJ.
2,782 reviews168 followers
September 13, 2023
Not quite as engaging as other books from this author but considering everything Ms. Pierce writes is absolutely fabulous, I’m only comparing it against her own work and not any others. The story is just as lovely as one can hope.

The characters are sweet and engaging - four outcasts thrown together for reasons completely unknown to them. Sandry is a high noble’s daughter, who is left an orphan, taught to her station but never able to fit in. Tris, a wounded, angry girl whose weird ability to unwittingly cause damage when she is upset has left her shunned by her own family and thrown out of every home she has been placed in. Daja, born to a traveler/trader family but left an only survivor of a shipwreck, then labeled as anathema and bad luck and driven from her land. And last, Briar - the only boy of the bunch. He grew up on the streets thieving and living by his wits alone until caught.

As the four children are placed in a home and taught to deal with their circumstances, each realizes the magic that lays dormant within them. And that’s what the majority of the story follows. It’s sweet and sad and engaging, yet just a tad bit slow. There is a climax near the end but I found that just a little unbelievable and slightly confusing. Still, the overall story is captivating and continues, as each individual has a book of their own. And, I will undoubtably continue. Ms. Pierce’s writing is just to enjoyable to ignore!
Profile Image for Kereesa.
1,629 reviews76 followers
August 24, 2015
This was not my first encounter with this particular Circle of Magi book. I had originally read it when I was 14 or so, and wanted more Tamora Pierce novels (I had read The Song of the Lioness Quartet and Trickster's Choice by this point). My mom, I believe, picked up this. It still contains my sketchy signature at the top of the inside cover.

I didn't like it. Not at 14, when I wanted more romance, more maturity, and didn't want to read about a bunch of kids playing around with magic and having issues. To be fair, this was the faze where I was more interested in straight action fantasy, (I wasn't a huge fan of magic either for a while), and slowly beginning to fall into the romance trap that would, thankfully, end when I realized how terrible the Gossip Girl novels were.

It was nice to wake up from that faze, I tell you.

Anyway, rereading this, I definitely understood where my past self was coming from. Sandry's Book is a novel for children, after all, and while does have timeless themes throughout it, it doesn't have young adult feel I was searching for (and found in SotL and TC), back then. It is, however, a good book, and a really good introduction to the world Pierce is setting up; something I think I've been only able to appreciate now that I've read a bit more. I think one of my favorites things about this novel was the world building, especially the schools of magic (though that might be because it reminded me of Dragon Age more than anything), and I'm curious to see how the outside world collides and interacts within this inner circle of magic. Will there be fear? Resentment? I think, from this novel at any rate, we do kind of see that brewing between the townspeople and the mages, but I think this really is only the tip of the iceberg. If I know anything about Tamora Pierce's writing, and after reading like 17 of her novels I hope I do, there's definitely going to be repercussions for each of these characters in the future. Living in isolation, after all, only works as long as you stay in isolation, and conflict between non-magic people and mages is one of those timeless themes you can't help but play with.

Xenophobia. It's a fear that can be utilized in so many ways to say things about our own societal values, and I definitely believe Pierce will be using it here.

On top of the magic/nonmagic conflicts, though, this world also deals with social classes, something that really intrigued me. Each of the four characters, after all, come from different social classes, and their interactions and conflicts are shaded by the statuses they have grown up with, and are consistently reminded of from other people. It's not hard to see the potential those statuses and social standings have in creating conflict not only between one another or within the magical environment, but also with the outside world. Duty to your own kind, duty to the Mage's Guild, and duty to yourself; these are the themes I can see the rest of the series working with, and it makes me excited.

Because the potential is there, the seeds are ripe, and Pierce is utterly qualified to make that harvest :D

While I did enjoy the plot, writing, and characters in this novel, I have to admit I was more excited from what I was reading between the lines and predicting for future. These novels, I know, are just the beginning of a long series, but are still necessary to understand the entirety of it. Even though I may not as a child enjoyed these (and I admit I still have reservations about them as an adult who's still very much in love with SotL), I finally think I get what everyone likes about them. There were some great characterization going on (which I'll probably talk about in my review for Tris's Book), the plot and writing easily kept me reading, and the world had me wondering what is going to happen to my four heroes next. 4/5
Profile Image for Summer.
1,362 reviews260 followers
December 9, 2010
Tamora Pierce was one of my favorite authors growing up and still remains one of my favorites today. However this series does not seem to be for me. Tamora Pierce has had books with different POVs before but not to the extent it is here. There are four main characters with four different POVs, each changing within a couple of pages. If you've read enough reviews from me you may have noticed that constantly changing POVs are on my list of things I do not like in a book. The world seemed interesting and the set-ups were fine but even for Tamora Pierce I couldn't make it very far. It did get me hyped up for her next Beka Cooper book coming out next year though :)
Profile Image for Beth.
1,158 reviews118 followers
December 23, 2015
I don't think this is good, exactly - but I love the ideas. That magic can be overlooked because it's part of something mundane is a great idea, and to take that a step further and show how magic can itself be treated like those mundane things is innovative and exciting, to the point where I actually don't mind that the entire novel is setup.
Profile Image for Emery Giiwenh.
28 reviews
February 5, 2020
It should be noted that I didn't realize this was a middle grade book when I started. Still, I found some aspects troubling on the behalf of young readers.

I can see that the author was attempting to promote a message of inclusivity and anti-racism (as well as shed light on classism and fat-phobia.) I can also see where she, being white, struggled with this. Perhaps she should have left this task to someone actually capable of experiencing racism.

Two of the protagonists are of color, one being a young black girl called Daja. She and her people are known as Traders, who's native language is called 'Trader talk' while all the other characters in this book speak 'common'. Yikes.

I felt that Daja's culture and belief systems were being silently mocked by the writer, and some even gradually stripped from her character. In a book about practicing magic, why couldn't the author have legitimized her spiritual practices and so have them taken seriously by the reader? This I found disappointing.

She is also referred to many times throughout the narrative as 'the black girl', and I can't understand why, well into the book, she can't just be referred to by name as we've already established the color of her skin. The only place in the book where I felt this could be appropriate (from a writer's perspective) was when she caught a side character off guard, thus catching the reader off guard and allowing us to discern who she was on our own. Still, unnecessary.

I'm not an expert on teaching anti-racism to young people, but I do think that showing love and respect to POC within storytelling is far more effective than presenting them with harsh scenarios involving racism. Not only did Daja experience micro-aggressions from her author, she was also treated terribly by her fictional peers based strictly on her lineage. Maybe the theory is that by being presented this cruelty, a young reader might decide they don't want to be cruel. To me it seems more likely that this would only show these readers how to be cruel.

The majority of the characters were mean to one another, including the adults, right to the end. Even once a friendship was (half-heartedly) established between the four protagonists within the final chapters they continued to bully one another. Very little respect was shown and the surrounding adults practiced absolutely no conflict management. I found the whole thing incredibly exhausting and, if I cared enough about the story, it might have broken my heart.

Fortunately for me there was no story, and so I didn't care. There was no villain, no dilemma.. just a few kids attending magic school, learning magic things, adopting a dog, all while being incredibly rude and one-dimensional. The writing style may have been fine but this author's ability to tell a story simply sucks. Also she's racist. The end.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 4 books52 followers
January 11, 2017
SANDRY'S BOOK isn't just a story about young thread-mage-in-training Sandrilene fa Toren. It's about her as well as her foster siblings - Daja (metals), Briar (plants), and Tris (weather) - as they come to the Winding Circle Temple to learn how to use their unique powers. All of them are outcasts in some way; and while they struggle to fit in and stay out of trouble at Winding Circle, they manage to find common ground together. But when disaster threatens their new home, the quartet must find a way to save themselves and the only place where they feel like they belong.

To be honest, I struggled with the first half of SANDRY'S BOOK. It was mostly due to the POV characters. Daja was the only one I connected with for a while because of her maturity, solemnity, and loyalty to everyone she cares about. But Tris and Briar were difficult to like early on, and Sandry seemed... too naive? Too childish? I think I was under the impression that SANDRY'S BOOK was YA, so I didn't realize until later that the book length, writing style, and character's ages make it more of a borderline Middle Grade / YA. Also, once all four students have arrived at Winding Circle, there's quite a bit of "head-hopping" from one POV character to another during the same scene. Some readers don't mind it, but personally I prefer to stay in one character's head at a time.

Eventually SANDRY'S BOOK grew on me, though. Once Sandry and her new foster siblings warm up to each other, they accept one another's differences and become curious about each other's talents and pre-Circle lives. The worldbuilding is interesting, too, with its many ethnicities / cultures, craft and element based magic system, and a brewing conflict between old-world ways and technological advances (greenhouses, irrigation systems, etc.). There are shades of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian influences here; I admit I geeked out a bit about meditation as a calming force for mages. And I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of character diversity (examples: Daja is dark-skinned, Briar is brown-skinned and biracial, and Tris wear glasses and views herself as chubby).

In the end, though, SANDRY'S BOOK was just OK. It's a quick, entertaining read about new friendships, magic, and belonging, with that familiar "coming of age" theme that naturally comes with characters discovering their unique abilities. A lot of readers seem to love this story, but to me it wasn't as memorable as Pierce's Tortall books. (Which reminds me: I need to finish that series this year!) But I'm curious to see how Sandry and her friends grow up with each other and into their powers, so I'll definitely continue the Circle of Magic series.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,527 reviews208 followers
August 22, 2018
I enjoyed learning about these four kids who are thrown together at a school. Each of these kids had a past that wasn't sunshine and flowers. They had to learn how to be okay with the past and how to learn to move forward.

One thing I didn't understand is why this book is Sandry's book as she doesn't seem to be a majority. The book was pretty evenly split between Sandry, Tris, Briar and Daja. But I enjoyed all four of them and the friendship that bloomed between them. I love that they have unique magic that is more targeted.

My favorite part of this book was probably Nico mentoring these kids. He totally reminds me of Numair from Tortall and I LOVE THAT GUY! Excited to see what these kids get up to next!
Profile Image for M.L. Means.
Author 4 books11 followers
April 22, 2020
A wonderful opening to a series I adored in middle school. I love this book, and it is just as unique and interesting as I remembered it. It definitely held up under my adult sensibilities. The magic system is really unique and I enjoyed every minute of my read.
1 review
November 21, 2008
This is an AWESOME book. A tale of bravery, loyalty, friendship,sorrow, and magic. ( And mystery,too) I can't stop reading!! Try this book if you like mystery and magic.
Profile Image for Abi (The Knights Who Say Book).
633 reviews95 followers
July 19, 2020
2020 Review: A nice revisit. It seemed even more unevenly plotted to me this time, but I also paid more attention to different interactions between the children (and their teachers) and have some new favorites. There are just a lot of really sweet moments in this book! Each kid's personality is defined really clearly and play with each other really well. Also, wow, this explored each kid's different trauma more than I remembered. Sandry has a full on panic attack when they're trapped in the dark. Briar eats a ton because he has a history with starving. Tris fully expects everyone to abandon her eventually. I think Daja sort of gets the short end of the stick in terms of exploring how the loss of her family has affected her, maybe because she's kind of the most cool and level-headed of them? It would be nice for her to get a few of those effective emotional details that characterize the others. It's a shame, but rereading Daja's Book will be nice.

2017 Review: I've read this book before and I thought it was only okay. Something like sixth or seventh grade, after exhausting the other Tamora Pierce options I was interested in at the library, I picked it up, read it, and never continued with the series. Imagine my surprise to find that I really liked it this time.

Sure, it's a lot of exposition. You spend a lot of time focused on Nico finding the four kids and bringing them from where they lived to Winding Circle, and once they're there you have to spend a couple of chapters watching the kids encounter various situations so that they all end up living in the same cottage, and then everyone has to fight and bicker and grudgingly become friends while also finding out they have magic and learning the basics of it. Phew! Now we can squish some action into the last two chapters before the ending.

But I still liked it. Reading (or rather listening to — the audiobook is pretty good!) that fighting and bickering and grudging-friend-making is actually really satisfying, and I ended up really liking all the characters (All I remember from the first time I read it is thinking Nico was a smug jerk and not being able to tell Lark and Rosethorn apart).

I still think it's a bit odd that it's called Sandry's Book, though. She is the first character introduced and like all of them she has character development, but of the four kids I'd say it was Tris who had the most development and most compelling narrative. I wonder if the books in this series were all randomly assigned one kid's name or if there's a reason this should specifically be Sandry's book that I just missed. Maybe the sequel — Tris's Book — will illuminate the situation if it turns out to be obvious why the next one is Tris's book and not this one.

[EDIT: on second thought, I think I can see why this is Sandry's book, I just think Pierce needed to do a better job of making her development carry smoothly throughout the book, rather than taking place primarily at the beginning and end without much acknowledgement in the middle. Because it's sort of gobbed up around the ending, it makes it easy for Tris's importance to the novel to overwhelm Sandry]

I am very excited to move on to the sequel and I started it immediately after finishing this one. After years of being told the Emelan 'verse is as (or more) awesome than Tortall, I finally have some faith that I might enjoy this series as much as I did some of Pierce's others. [EDIT: I have a review for Tris's Book now!]
Profile Image for Stephanie.
352 reviews9 followers
June 21, 2010
Sandry's Book is the first in the Circle of Magic series. It begins with Lady Sandrilene who is alone and afraid after being hidden by magic in a small storeroom by her nurse, to keep her safe from a smallpox outbreak and rioting villagers. Her nurse is killed and Sandry is left for a very long time without light and only her needlework to keep her company. She is found by Niko, a mage, who was able to locate her and save her from the dark and lonely room where she was held safe. Her parents and nurse are now dead so Niko delivers her to her uncle, Duke Vedris, who lives near the Winding Circle temple. The duke is a widower, who's children are all grown, so it is decided that Sandry shall go to live at the Winding Circle temple with other children who have been sent there to study.

We are also introduced to the other three members of the Circle of Magic, Daja, Briar, and Trisana. These three come from very different walks of life and are brought together by Niko, who seems to be acting on a vision or a prophecy in seeking out these four and bringing them to study at the Winding Circle temple. Daja is a Trader and the sole survivor when her family's trading ship sinks in dangerous seas. She is saved from the sea by Niko but then cast out by her people for being "bad luck". Briar is a thief, twice convicted, who is arrested and sent for his final sentencing. He is saved when Niko offers to take him to Winding Circle instead of punishment. Trisana is the daughter of a merchant who's strange powers have terrified her family, causing them to send her away, time and time again. She is expelled from yet another boarding school after strange weather causes chaos at the school. Niko is there visiting the the director and offers to take Tris to the Winding Circle instead of trying to convince yet another relative or school to take her.

The four children are brought together at the Discipline House after having been rejected by the other houses of the Winding Circle for various reasons. They begin to form a tenuous friendship and find that they all have something in common, a hidden ability in magic that until coming to Winding Circle, had remained untapped or misunderstood.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series. It was a quick read and I expect to gulp down the next three pretty quickly!
Profile Image for Alex Black.
688 reviews49 followers
February 3, 2020
This is probably the third time I've decided to reread through the Circle of Magic quartet in the hopes that I'll enjoy it more, but I don't think I ever will. I quite enjoy the overall premise of the story, the kids with strange magical abilities become magically bonded and have to figure things out with their teachers, and I enjoy the characters themselves (both the four main characters and their teachers), but I always struggle through.

Particularly with this first book, it feels like there's so much set up without much happening. The kids don't actually figure out they have magic until about 200 pages into this 250 page book. It's mostly how they came to find themselves at the temple community (Niko brought them all) and introducing the characters to each other. There's a little bit of plot revolving around the earthquake, but not a whole lot. It just bores me.

Which isn't to say it's bad. It's three stars, it's fine. I probably would have liked it better had I read it as a child, but it always feels lacking to me. I want more character development and more development of their magic. It feels like there's a lot that could be explored and just isn't.

I've also always been a bit irritated that Sandry got cheated out of her own book in this initial quartet. This book feels almost equal in terms of POV and importance to the story, while the rest of the books focus on each individual character much more. I like Sandry quite a bit and wish she'd gotten more than a shared book.

I don't dislike this book. I think there are a lot of positives in this series overall, but I can't really bring myself to care about this one, or even much of the first quartet. It bores me a bit and it took me a couple days to read despite being so quick and short.
Profile Image for Rachel.
370 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2014
Tamora Pierce has captured me again! Oh my goodness, this was a lovely introduction to the world of Emelan. As much as I do and will miss Tortall and the characters that populate it, I am so pleased to be immersed in this new world. While this book lacks much of a central conflict, it is extremely rich in world-building and characters that I *immediately* related to (HI TRIS I LOVE YOU) and cheered for. Watching Pierce allow her characters to stand up to bullies, use privilege in all the best ways, and have histories that impact their current lives & behaviors is just such a treat. Seeing adults in these books treat the children with respect and care was rewarding and lovely. Pierce writes fantasy the way I wish more fantasy was written- it corrects wrongs, it draws characters in a million different shapes and colors and it just... it makes your imagination bigger. While a big part of me wishes I'd seen these books as a child, I'm thrilled to be discovering them now.

Excited to continue my journey into Emelan!
Profile Image for Hannah.
661 reviews53 followers
June 17, 2009
A wonderful beginning to the Circle of Magic series! "The Magic in the Weaving" may be a slightly slower start when compared to the Alanna, Keladry and Daine series, but I actually preferred the steady pace with which certain elements of the plot are revealed. The different uses of magic is really highlighted here; I've rarely been so interested in reading the bare bones of how a character's own magic works, but Sandry's weaving of light into thread made me hold my breath.

Although it may not be as interesting as the other three books in the Circle of Magic series, it is understandable as it lays the groundwork for the rest of the story, and sketches the events that result in the creation of the Circle. Sandry's character may come across as a goody-two-shoes, but she's still endearing all the same and her strong sense of justice and loving nature is what ties together the rest of the characters. I'd have to say I prefer her sweet nature above the other three.
Profile Image for Kirsten.
2,131 reviews90 followers
February 22, 2008
I really liked this! This series, Circle of Magic, centers on four young people who are just discovering the powerful magic they were born with. All four are troublemakers in one way or another, misfits who haven't found someplace they really feel comfortable. They are brought together at Winding Circle, where they begin to learn to explore and control their talents -- and how to trust people, as well.
What I really admired, beyond Pierce's excellent characters, was how carefully she has created the magic system that rules her world. It's surprising how many fantasy writers build worlds that are run by magic, but never put any though into the rules that magic runs by -- or worse, create rules, and then blithely break them.
Profile Image for Vicki (The Wolf's Den).
433 reviews10 followers
February 13, 2022
Read by Tamora Pierce, Bruce Coville & Full Cast Audio
(click for cast names)
Length: 5.8 Hours
Listened at 1.8x Speed

Read my full review at The Wolf's Den

Also be sure to stay tuned after the end of the novel! Following the voice credits there is a short interview of Tamora Pierce about the inspiration behind the Circle of Magic series. Ever wonder where the idea for sewing magic came from? Wonder no more!

Click here for my review of the story itself.
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