Author: Tamora Pierce
Title: Briar's Book
Series: Circle of Magic 4
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Three Petals
On the Author's Website:
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?
After enduring a terrible earthquake and a pirate attack, the city of Emelan is starting to get back on its feet. Then a plague hits and as people start dying Briar, Sandry, Daja, and Tris know that they have to do everything in their power to combat the epidemic before it's too late.
This was definitely the best book in this four-part series. I could see how much Pierce has grown as an author during the writing of each book. While the plot was still predictable and lacking in depth, there was so much more put into it. Add the emotional weight Pierce learned and the exceptional characterizations and world building, and you get the culmination of Briar's Book.
There are two aspects to this story that I found particularly compelling. When Briar and Rosethorn are stuck in quarantine and Rosethorn literally begins to wilt from lack of sunlight and plants, Briar does everything he can to make her feel better. The emotions he and Rosethorn have made me want to cry on their behalf. The second was the amount of detail that went into creating a cure for the disease. The various mixtures of powders and oils that went into trying to combat the illness was something I had never before read in a fantasy novel. I admit that I don't really understand how the keys work and how some powders and oils could combat a plague, but it worked from a fantasy-world perspective and I really enjoyed reading it.
Pierce has learned to add details to her plot and weave emotions into the pages. That, combined with her amazing characterizations and world-building made for the best book of the Circle of Magic quartet. I definitely recommend this book and this series.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.