Since I only do my Impressions post every other Wednesday, I thought I’d keep things interesting and dig into my drafts and random blog titles I’ve found written in my planner over the past couple of years. There are a lot of them, and I don’t even know what some of them were supposed to be about, so they’ll be alternating with the Impressions post until I’ve finished amusing myself with them. And maybe you, if I’m lucky.
This post idea is over two years old and I have no clue what I was supposed to say about it. I do know I’ve been thinking of re-reading this quartet for quite a while, and, when the pandemic first shut everything down, I pulled out the fourth book and started flipping through it.
Okay, first of all, what is Circle of Magic? It’s a children’s fantasy series of 4 books by Tamora Pierce. I adored her books when I was a child, but, when the Kel books started to come out (Protector of the Small quartet), was sad to discover I’d actually outgrown her books. For a few more years, I hung on to them, enjoying some favorite passages, but, eventually, adult fantasy fully pushed them out the door and to my local library, where I have no idea what happened to them.
But I held onto the Circle of Magic quartet. While I think most of what I read from her were more YA than children’s, I’m pretty sure this series is for children. There are only whiffs of romance, and never between the children. No, these books are firmly focused on the friendship that develops between them as they go through an earthquake, pirate attacks, wildfires, and a magical epidemic together, the bond between them only strengthening. And I think that’s what I love so much about this series: that friendship. While there are tons of books with amazing friendships (I even devoted an entire Curated Bookshelf to them a few months ago), these four kids will always have a hold on my heart.
There’s the noble lady Sandry, who is great-niece to the ruler of their realm himself, and who is sadly orphaned thanks to a plague. Her element is air and it’s expressed through such things as weaving, needlework, yarn spinning, etc. Tris is the merchant’s daughter no one in the family wanted to keep. Sent from relative to relative and then temple to temple, her emotions end up closely tied to her powers as a weather witch and it takes quite a bit of work to get it under control. Daja is a Trader whose entire family was killed while out to sea, so she becomes an outcast. Her element is fire and she finds her place working with a blacksmith. Then there’s Briar, a street rat who was caught stealing one too many times, but is miraculously saved by a mage. Skilled in earth magic, he still hates weeding, but knows all the properties of all the plants he and his teacher grow.
These four are just children, and, despite all their differences, become closer than siblings through the course of the series. They bicker and help each other at every turn, and they fiercely protect their teachers, who took them in when no one else would and taught them how to use their magic.
Ahem. Do I have any idea where I’m going here? Nope. I just know I love everything about these books. Whenever there’s talk of comfort books, this series always springs to mind. Yet they don’t recall carefree childhood days for me, because I re-read them every year until I started college. Maybe they remind me of a time when I wasn’t a book reviewer, when I amused myself by browsing shelves in my bedroom and in bookstores and selecting whatever caught my eye. Or maybe the magic and innocence I found on these pages were just so different from what I read in adult fantasy that reading them felt like I was holding tight to a piece of my childhood. And maybe, when school from home for my oldest while my youngest was still a toddler just got too hard, I just needed a reminder of the simpler, easier days of my own childhood.
This year, my bookish wish is to find a book that will bring me a new book memory. I think I may be on the road to one, but these books will always be the source of some pretty powerful memories, ones that can take me straight back to sitting on my pink canopy bed while the afternoon sunlight slants in and there’s a mess of books everywhere.
Well, maybe it is time to re-read them. I think my daughter might enjoy listening to them.