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Briar's Book by Tamora Pierce
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Briar escaped life as a homeless young thief when his magic was discovered. Since then, he has renamed himself and, to a certain extent, reinvented himself. He realizes how much he's changed in skills, outlook and assumptions (like trusting authorities, or actually *wanting* to be clean) when one of his street-rat friends falls ill. And as the illness spreads, and plague envelops the city, Briar is forced to come to terms with his new destiny.

This book is basically everything I have ever wanted in fiction. Outbreak investigation AND structural inequalities of health AND magic? It is like Tamora Pierce wrote this book just for me. So I can't pretend to be even partially objective or trustworthy about this novel, except to say that I am so, so thankful that someone is actually writing this kind of story in a fantasy setting. The plot involves garbage collection, waste disposal, differential health care access, medical resources rationing--all the dirty, earthy, banal things that get ignored in traditional sf/f (and, to be fair, most fiction regardless of genre). But it's not without wonder, either; Pierce describes magic in a way that thrills me to my core. You might not assume that plant magic could be written in a way that makes your heart beat faster, but Pierce can do it. The characters in this series have grown far richer since their unsubtle introductions. (And astonishingly, Pierce accomplishes this without making them all assholes, or giving them increasingly unlikely traumatic pasts. Take note, modern grimdark fantasy novelists--it can be done!)

I love that Pierce chose to step outside the easy plots of human antagonists. It opened her plots up to include all sorts of events most authors never get to grapple with, like natural disasters and resource admininstration. In this world, even magic isn't limitless, and magicians need to be wise in their use of it. And they can't do everything--the best way to weave is still to do it by hand, and not all fires can be stopped. That was another aspect of this series that I loved: the acknowledgment that not everything can be fully understood or controlled. Even the most powerful wizard in Pierce's world can't stop the tides, and even if she could, it would lead to even greater disasters. Trying to control too much is actually a serious flaw, which is a fantastically novel viewpoint to find in a sf/f story. I think I'm starting to babble here, but I really just loved everything about this series. It's written for a younger audience, so the writing isn't that sophisticated (except for the descriptions of magic use, which are seriously the most enthralling things ever), but the ideas are. I can't think of another fantasy series that looks at classism, the limitations of a humanist worldview, and the necessity of hard work--all in the midst of a truly entertaining adventure.

Apparently the next series, The Circle Opens, is even better. omg how can this beeee? ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
love this series!!! ( )
  katieloucks | Feb 26, 2016 |
Listened to Full Cast Audio edition November 2007. ( )
  JenJ. | Mar 31, 2013 |
Briar and Rosethorn battle an epidemic.

A nice end to this series. Being away from home made me clingy with these friendly characters so I started the next quartet right away. ( )
  alwright1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
Tamora Pierce has learned her lesson and stopped trying to write from too many points of view at the same time, which is definitely a good thing. Otherwise I'm not too impressed by this one as the plot is more or less non-existent... or perhaps it's just the one I remembered the best. ( )
  Kiwiria | Mar 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tamora Pierceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Albano, UrsulaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bostick, DanielProducersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coville, BruceDirector/Producersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dawson, SteveNarrator photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hobin, ToddMusicsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schoenherr, IanMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
TheronCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watkins, LiselotteCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Briar Moss knew he was only dreaming, but he didn't care.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0590554115, Mass Market Paperback)

Part of the 8-book Tamora Pierce reissue for Fall 2006, this title in the Circle of Magic quartet features spellbinding new cover art. Coincides with the release of WILL OF THE EMPRESS in trade pb.

Four elements of power, four mages-in-training learning to control them. In Book 4 of the Circle of Magic Quartet, former "street rat" Briar leads a comfortable life at Winding Circle Temple, learning plant magic from his teacher Rosethorn. But street kids are still his friends, and when one of them gets sick, she turns to Briar for help. As the mysterious illness spreads, Sandry, Daja, and Tris join Briar and their teachers to fight the epidemic. But just as the situation improves, the unthinkable happens. Will Briar be able to save what he loves most?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:36 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Briar, a young mage-in-training, and his teacher Rosethorn must use their magic to fight a deadly plague that is ravaging Summersea.

» see all 7 descriptions

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