From the Publisher
Young mages and foster siblings Sandry, Briar, Daja, and Tris suffer a bumpy reunion after traveling independently of one another for a year. When Sandry's noble uncle requests that the others accompany her on a journey to visit her properties in neighboring Namorm, they rediscover their affinities and learn how their unique powers complement one another. Sandry's empress cousin wishes to keep Sandry and her inheritance in the country and plots at every opportunity to marry her to a Namornese nobleman, leading to some action-packed showdowns between the characters with magical abilities.
This lengthy novel is full of journeys, adventure, and court life, but its strength lies in its complex characters and solid incorporation of social issues into the tale: Namorn has a long-standing tradition of kidnapping and forced marriage for its girls, which the mages work against politically. Sandry reflects in the qualities of a good leader and returns to issues of class and social justice time and time again, and one of the mages comes out as a lesbian. Fans of the four mages will enjoy this continuation of their story, but the book stands on its own. Readers will find this feminist tale thought provoking, and it might provide enough material for a good classroom discussion.
HB Nov/Dec 05
Tamora Pierce The Will of the Empress
539 pp. Scholastic 11/05 isbn 0-439-44171-4 $17.99 g
Now sixteen and beginning to think of their futures, the four mages of Pierce's Circle Quartet are reunited after their separate travels (recounted in the Circle Opens series). Briar, Tris, and Daja escort Sandry on a visit to her estates in Namorn, but the powerful empress of Namorn has plans to make all four of them remain there under her control -- and she's not used to taking no for an answer. As the court intrigue unfolds (the empress sics several suitors on Sandry in order to keep her in Namorn; Daja surprises herself by falling in love with the empress's wardrobe mistress), the familiar characters demonstrate why they're so popular with tween readers: gruff exteriors invariably hide tender hearts; strays are always collected and cared for; friendship and loyalty triumph over riches and position (but riches and position come along anyway). Although the foursome's eventual escape is never in doubt, Pierce has some fresh surprises regarding each mage's powers, and through danger and repose she keeps the story rolling merrily along. anita l. burkam
Booklist 11/1/05 Starred
Gr. 811. How well word-mage Pierce understands what her audience wants, and how ably she provides it in this epic postscript to her two Circle quartets. Powers in full flush after stints of wayfaring, precocious ambient mages Daja, Briar, and Tris have finally reunited with left-behind Sandry. But nothing is quite what it was, and the 16-year-olds begin to question their telepathic connection: “As adults, we keep our minds and our secrets hidden, and our wounds. It's safer.” It will take a common foe to shake the cobwebs from this partnership. Pierce provides a formidable one in Namorn's charismatic empress, who does battle with silken weapons of courtly politics to compel the mages to live and serve in Sandry's native land. Subplots deepen characterizations in ways reflective of the teens' increasing maturity: Daja discovers she is a “woman who loves women”; Sandry must confront her high-born heritage and stave off forced marriage by means of an archaic bride-stealing custom. A few threads seem to dangle in ways that cloth-mage Sandry would scorn, but little will deter readers from reveling in the elemental magics, or from sympathizing with the prickly young adults' nostalgia for the easy companionships of childhood. A standalone tour de force, this will gratify series devotees and ensnare new readers for the series. Jennifer Mattson
Devotees of Tamora Pierce's The Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets will welcome back Sandry and her friends from Winding Circle-Daja, Tris and Briar-in The Will of the Empress. Here the Empress of Namorn, older cousin to Lady Sandrilene fa Toren, attempts to virtually imprison Sandry in Namorn and marry her off to a noble. Can Sandry count on her friends (and their special talents), in spite of how estranged they have become? Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Will the Circle be unbroken? Pierce has brought her young mages Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar together again after their independent adventures in "The Circle Opens" quartet. Ah, but they are now eighteen and adults. Will they still bond, or close each off from their telepathic communications? This is the crux of the story and forms the tension that propels the plot along until a real menace enters the scene. The Empress Berenene of Namorn is beautiful, intelligent, and cold as ice. What is her true reason for bringing Sandry and her friends to Lady Sandrilene's ancestral homeland? The squabbling cohort take their own good time in learning this agenda. They are too busy falling into the glamour of court life: flirtations, first love, really fabulous libraries and greenhouses. But the temptations become shallow when Sandry is put in true danger, and the old friends must learn new accommodations to save her. Pierce's voluminous book starts slowly, but once it gets rolling she proves again that she is still a very good, page-turning storyteller. 2005, Scholastic, Ages 12 up.
Children's Literature - Mary Jo Edwards
After a brief bittersweet reunion in Emelan, friends Daja, Tris and Briar accompany Sandry to Namorn to visit her inherited lands and her cousin, Empress Berenene. The eighteen-year-old mages soon realize that the empress will stop at nothing to keep them in Namorn. This unabridged audio book, recorded on fourteen compact discs, is the first installment in "The Circle Reforged" series. Pierce's narration is refreshing and the voice actors' excellent performances bring the characters to life. The music created for this piece is original. Listeners will know that the mages are communicating with each other through magical thinking when they hear bells chiming in the background. Although Daja's sexual orientation has been hinted at in prior titles, she finally realizes that she has been kissing the wrong gender when she has a strong response to being kissed by another woman. The four mages possess qualities that young adults aspire toselflessness, honesty, kindness, and loyalty. Listening to Pierce's work of fiction is a pleasant escape from reality.
In her latest tale, fantasy queen Pierce reunites the four young mages from her Circle of Magic and Circle Opens series, and her many fans will be delighted. The book opens as thread mage Sandry is turning 16. She isn't just a talented "stitch witch"; she's also a wealthy noblewoman, and when her powerful kinswoman, the Empress Berenne, summons her to the land of Namorn, Sandry feels obliged to go. Accompanied by her long-separated, bickering foster siblings, the mages Daja, Tris, and Briar, Sandry arrives at the empress's court, only to discover that the treacherous empress has no intention of letting heror her fortuneever leave. It will take the skills of all four mages to thwart the empress's game of "snare-the-heiress," as Sandry is kidnapped not once but twice (Namorn custom allows men to abduct their would-be brides) and Tris is badly injured. Pierce's characters are, as always, fully developed, and there is a feminist slant to her writing along with suspense, romance (including a non-explicit lesbian affair), and a great sense of humor. A delightful page-turner, though perhaps best enjoyed by readers already familiar with the characters. KLIATT Codes: JSA*Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Scholastic, 320p., Ages 12 to adult.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-This novel begins two years after the "Circle of Magic" and "The Circle Opens" series. Readers are reintroduced to the four characters who made the other series so popular: Sandry, who has worked at her uncle's these past two years; Tris, who has developed a new power that she is afraid to share; Daja, who immediately renews her link with Sandry; and Briar, who is afraid to open up because of his memories of the war. Sandry still holds the circle that binds these four individuals together, creating a strong whole out of four very diverse parts. When the book opens, they refuse to reopen the link that has made them stronger due to changes in their lives. Sandry discovers that the lands she holds for the Empress will be given away unless she returns home. Her uncle talks her friends into accompanying her. She hopes to visit her lands and leave by fall, but the Empress has other plans for her, including marriage. After the Empress meets her friends, she devises plans to keep them all. Readers will enjoy being reacquainted with these older but still very well-developed characters. This book stands alone, but readers unfamiliar with the earlier books will be asking for them after finishing this one.-June H. Keuhn, Corning East High School, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Tris, Sandry, Briar and Daja return in the latest Circle book, but their formerly close friendship has weakened as they've grown apart on their separate adventures. Once closer than siblings, the four no longer understand one another. Nonetheless, when Sandry is summoned to her ancestral lands in Namorn at Empress Berenene's whim, only her friends-all supremely powerful mages-can protect her from political machinations. Berenene wants Sandry to stay, though Namorn's unpleasant and misogynistic legal system revolts the quartet. Sandry finds herself wooed by Berenene's courtiers, while practical Tris is tempted with education and Briar with the palace's extensive gardens. Daja, meanwhile, finds love with one of Berenene's ladies. The four come to terms with one another's passages to adulthood in this surprisingly rich adventure. Main characters all get satisfactory depth, although much development is left tantalizingly unresolved for future offerings. When Pierce first began writing longer books, her pacing was shaky; she's settled into the length quite well. Satisfying. (Fantasy. 12-14)