Book Review: Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

Posted May 11, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Magic Steps 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.

Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce
Series: ,
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published by Turtleback Books on March 1, 2000
Pages: 264
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

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Lady Sandrilene fa Toren knows all about unusual magic - she herself spins and weaves it like thread. But when she witnessed a boy dancing a spell, even she is confounded. To her dismay, Sandry learns that as the mage who discovered the power of the young dancer, she must be his teacher. Before lessons can begin, however, Sandry and her uncle, Duke Vedris, get news of a mysterious murderer stalking a clan of local merchants. The killer employs the strangest magic of all: the ability to reduce essence to nothingness. As the murders mount and the killer grows bolder, Sandry's teaching takes on a grave purpose. For it becomes clear to everyone that the killings can only be stopped by the combined workings of two people: the young teacher and her even younger student.

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

First in the The Circle Opens fantasy subseries (fifth in the Emelan overall series) for young middle grade readers and revolving around Lady Sandry. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of The Circle Opens books on my website.

My Take

I do love Tamora Pierce’s stories. She has the greatest characters and the coziest scenes — she weaves a story you fall into. It’s amazing what Pierce comes up with that spinning thread and weaving it can do as magic. Makes you appreciate thread, lol.

In this one, a boy has a talent and the desire to pursue it, but it doesn’t fit within his family’s ambitions. It’s a struggle that leads to greater learning for everyone involved. And his family and we learn how very practical Lady Sandry is. I love that she wants to learn and help anyone and everyone.

I do like the duke. He’s fair and firm and looks out for the welfare of his people and his country. Don’t ya wish our own politicians would do that? Unfortunately, he’s very fair and will even protect the bad guys when they’re being attacked. I know, I know. I should be more sympathetic and interested in justice. This is where my conservative side rises up.

Okay, that’s a sign of a psychopath. Someone who feels nothing when she kills, even when she kills children. And regrets that she doesn’t feel anything. What’s the point in killing if you can’t enjoy it?

It’s a major step forward for Sandry, and she learns how much she has leant on her friends for strength.

The Story

Sandry is in Emelan at Duke’s Citadel watching over her great-uncle who has suffered a heart attack — and wondering why her uncle keeps testing her.

Meanwhile, luck has followed the fishing fleet and their nets are overflowing.

That means that Sandry is out of luck, for the mage who discovers new talent is responsible for training them, and the crimes that follow will challenge Sandry and her new apprentice.

The Characters

Lady Sandrilene fa Toren is the fourteen-year-old great-niece of Duke Vedris IV, ruler of Emelan, with the ability to spin, weave, embroider, or knot magic. She and her three friends are on their way to becoming great mages; Tris, Little Bear is their dog, and Niko (Niklaren Goldeye), their teacher, have gone south while Briar and Daja are off touring the world so they won’t appear in Magic Steps. Russet is the horse Sandry is riding while here.

The Duke’s Citadel
Baron Erdogun fer Baigh is the duke’s seneschal. Lord Frantsen is the duke’s oldest son and very arrogant. Kwaben and Oama are part of the Duke’s Guard and part of the elite Personal Guard and in charge of Sandry’s safety. Guardsman Lebua and Guryil are reliable soldiers.

Pasco Acalon is in training to be a harrier like the rest of his family, but his heart is in his dancing. He’s also Macarin and Zahra Qais Acalon‘s only son. Halmaedy is his sister who works as a Harrier in the Provost’s Guard. Zahra was once captain of the Provost’s Guard; his maternal grandmother is Abbas Qais. Rehana “Reha”; Vanido “Vani“, a bully; and, Haidaycie “Haiday” are his cousins. Gran’ther Edoar Acalon is another fair man.

Yazmín Hebet is a world famous dancer who has retired and now teaches dance. She’s also a friend of Lark’s. Wamuko works for Yazmín.

Winding Circle mages are…
…part of the teaching school and governing council of mages. Dedicate Superior Moonstream is their leader. Dedicate Lark is a great mage and Sandry’s friend and teacher who lives in Discipline cottage. She believes that Sandry is greater than she. Comas is a new, very shy student. Dedicate Comfrey is watching over the duke’s health. Dedicate Vetiver believes she’s found a new student needing help with her magic. Dedicate Crane, Rosethorn’s greatest, um, enemy?, seems to have softened up since events in Briar’s Book. Dedicate Skyfire is the head of the Fire temple.

The Provost’s Guard is …
…the city’s police force and made up of harriers, for how their uniforms resemble harrier hawks. Watch houses are called coops. Captain Isman Qais is on the dawn watch and Pasco’s uncle. He’s also insultingly ignorant of what female mages do. Wulfric Snaptrap is head of the harrier mages, a regular Sherlock Holmes. His team includes Lieutenant Ulrina and Captain Behazin.

Jamar Rokat is a merchant and head of Rokat House with a monopoly on myrrh and other import items. Their house has a very bad reputation. Qasam and Durshan are his brothers. Fariji is another brother with a family.

The Dihanur are the Rokats’ deadly enemies. Their patriarch was Palaq Dihanur. Alzena and her husband, Nurhar Dihanur, are assassins. A pirate-crippled boy is the mage who uses unmagic and also uses dragonsalt to manage the wreck it’s making of him.

Osabo Netmender is a friend of Pasco’s whose dad is captain of a fishing boat. Adesina benefited from Pasco dancing luck for her delivery.

Dragonsalt is a drug that makes heroin look like aspirin.

The Cover and Title

The cover is bright with the sunset that illuminates Sandry in her vivid green riding outfit and black boots on her horse at the top of a cliff overlooking a craggy bay. On the beach below the city are three boys.

The title refers to Pasco, for he has the Magic Steps that bring him to Sandry’s attention.

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