Monday, I both started and finished the third book in the Circle of Magic series, Daja’s Book (Young Adult 232 pages) series by Tamora Pierce.
“Outcast Trader Daja, along with her fellow mages-in-training, journeys from Winding Circle to the Gold Ridge Mountains, where drought threatens wide-spread famine. There, Daja creates an astonishing object: a living metal vine. A caravan of Traders covets the vine, and Daja’s dealings with her former people reawaken a longing for familiar ways. Daja must choose – should she return to the Traders or remain with the Winding Circle folk who have become her family?”
This is a prime example as to why I don’t read the backs of books until after I’ve already finished the book itself. If you read the back of this book before you actually read the book, you’re likely to figure out that Daja is going to do something fantastic enough for other Traders to not only acknowledge her existence, but also to offer her a place in their clan.
In the previous books in this series, Daja is clearly established as trangshi, which means other Traders are forbidden from acknowledging her existence in any way. So for the back of the book to suggest that she will have to choose between going with the Traders and remaining with the Winding Circle folk means that she will do something powerful enough for them to be willing to treat her as a Trader again. For me, that kind of spoiled a little bit of the suspense because I knew she was going to rescue the caravan.
Nit-pickiness aside, that is pretty much the only issue I had with this book, and it’s really not an issue with the book at all, but rather an issue with the marketing of the book; something most authors usually have very little if any control over at all. There is also the draw of the predictability in this book, as a reader is likely to already have a good sense that things are going to work out in general for the young mages-in-training and that this is another chapter in their story of learning friendship and teamwork. The pattern in the previous books alone indicate that the four young mages will have some interesting trials during the book which will increase their bond and draw them closer together.
One of the most fascinating parts of this story for me was the weaving and reweaving of the map for their combined magics. When Sandry first weaves their map, the colors are everywhere and difficult to understand since it’s basically a giant mess. I really enjoyed the weaving and reweaving of their magic.
Daja continues to be one of my own favorite characters in this series, especially seeing how well she dealt with the entire situation of bargaining with Polyam. She was polite and didn’t allow her emotions to get the better of her. She learned and saw compassion for people who are in situations that are not typically deemed ideal, especially understanding Polyam’s pride and her perceptions of honor. Daja’s character is a fantastic person who works to take care of others and to learn the ways of her gift. Her passion for the fire, the forge, and even the open ocean all come through clearly in this book, and throughout the series as a whole.
Overall, this book is easily another three on my rating scale. The characters are human with their flaws, their strengths, and their desires to do better, the magic is extremely interesting, and the story is filled with friendship, loyalty, and hope. I still need to find a good set of these to buy and I’m hoping to find them in the small hardbacks like what I borrowed from the library as an addition to my own collection.
Pierce, Tamora. Circle of Magic: Daja’s Book. Scholastic Press: New York, 2000.