Book Review: Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

Posted April 1, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Daja's Book by Tamora Pierce
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published by Turtleback Books on March 1, 2000
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library


When Daja is cast out of the Trader community, she makes her own family with her fellow mages-in-training. But when danger faces the Traders, it is up to Daja to save the people who turned her away.

Also by this author: Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff, Sandry's Book, Tris's Book, Briar's Book, Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire

Third in the Circle of Magic fantasy series for young middle-grade readers and revolving around four young friends tied together by magic.

Daja’s Book was nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 2000.

Visit KD Did It Takes on Books for a chronological listing of the books in the Circle of Magic series.

My Take

After two books of adventure, the kids are amazing together. It’s teamwork and friendship as they come to a greater understanding of how the magic bond they share works. Talking about support, I absolutely adored (and laughed) when Sandry, Briar, and Tris stood up for Daja and forced Polyam to treat Daja with politeness and all the trimmings.

Daja discovers a new ability by accident, growing metal into a plant with leaves that grow. It also brings her courage, the confidence to insist on bargaining directly with the Traders.

Ooh, that rivalry between Niko and Firetamer is intense, and one of the reasons for Firetamer’s insecurity. There’s a good lesson in here for your own children, one of accepting one’s limitations. Of becoming comfortable with it, but not complacent. There’s also an environmental lesson in here, one we’ve only come to understand these past few decades about the importance of fire in a forest. A secondary lesson in this is that one never stops learning. God knows I’m always learning something new!

Sandry has a nice bit of wisdom for Daja, that since she is no longer a Trader, she is her own person. That she can make her own status, to stand up for herself. Daja raises her own questions about fame and envy.

I hate people like those in Gold Ridge, more interested in status and showing off.

That was unfair of Niko, scolding the kids for something they did when he never said anything before.

Little bits of background are dropped by Sandry, Frostpine (the betrayal of his parents was huge), Lark, and the reason Polyam lost her status (damn these Traders are superstitious people!).

The Story

Fires are ravaging Gold Ridge Valley, and Duke Vedris has brought the kids to see what they can do to help.

It’s a new aspect of her magic, making metal grow, creating a net of metal that can smother fire. A skill that will save many lives and create enough zokin that Daja’s name will be added back onto the records of the Tsaw’ha.

The Characters

Winding Circle temple
Daja Kisubo was once a Trader, but after a shipwreck in which she was the only survivor, her people have cast her out. She’s trangshi, and she does not exist to Traders anymore. Lady Sandrilene “Sandry” is a noble, the great-niece of Duke Vedris. Her magic lies in weaving and spinning. Pirisi was her Trader nurse who died protecting her. Briar Moss was a street rat before Niko found him; now he exercises his earth magic. Trisana “Tris” Chandler loves to read and has a power over nature.

The Dedicates who are in charge at Discipline Cottage are Rosethorn, a powerful earth dedicate with an affinity for growing whose childhood was on a farm, and Lark is a thread-mage whose skill lies with weaving whose past includes juggling and dancing. They only accept mageborn.

Little Bear is the puppy the kids rescued in Sandry’s Circle, 1. Shriek is the starling Tris rescued in Tris’s Book, 2.

Frostpine is a smith-mage, one of the greatest and Daja’s teacher. Niklaren “Niko” Goldeye is a wandering mage who finds things and people who are hidden. He’s also the kids’ instructor.

Duke Vedris IV rules Emelan.

Gold Ridge Valley has its…
…own gold: saffron. Lady Inoulia fa Juzon is the valley’s ruler and something of a snob. Yarrun Firetamer is the mage who puts out the fires in the valley. He’s an insecure braggart whose pride and ignorance ends up killing him. His father, Ulmerin Valeward, is also a mage. Khalib ul Hanoh is the village smith where Daja creates her plant.

Traders in the Tenth Caravan Idaram
Polyam is the wirok of Tenth Caravan Idaram, and she can’t speak to Daja even though she has very low status among her people (she lost a leg in a rockslide). Chandrisa is the gilav! They prize cooking and bargaining.

Wirok buys supplies for the caravan; they bring no profit and so they are of the second lowest status. Mimanders are Trader mages while a xurdin is a general term for mages. A gilav is a caravan boss. A hamot is a fool who will accept the first offer made. Qunsuanen is a person who has undergone qunsua, a ceremony that supposedly protects a Trader if she must speak with a trangshi *major eye roll*. Zokin is the credit listed against your name in a Trader’s ledgers and encompasses both the money you accumulate and your personal status within the caravan. Lugsha are artisans. Kaq is a rude word that means outsider. Daka are higher-status Traders. Blue Traders travel the seas. White Traders travel in snow or sand. Tsaw’ha is the Trader name for themselves.

The Cover and Title

The cover is golden with its yellow green sky and a darker yellow green hazy forest with great golden blades of grass rising up from the base of the cover, both framing a black cloaked figure on a white horse.

The title is who the focus of the story is on, for it’s Daja’s Book.

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4 responses to “Book Review: Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

    • It’s a good one. It’s definitely a middle grade target audience, and I enjoyed it very much. Hmmm, what does that say about me, lol. I do think this is good for kids as it promotes self-confidence, praise from adults, teamwork, and equality between boys and girls.

  1. Oh man, it’s been so long since I read these books! I inhaled Tamora Pierce when I was in middle school but backed down a bit once I discovered Urban Fantasy in high school. Glad you’re enjoying it so far!

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