Book Review: Street Magic by Tamora Pierce

Posted July 31, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Book Review: Street Magic 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.

Street Magic by Tamora Pierce
Series: ,
Genres: Fantasy
Published by Scholastic Press on April 1, 2001
Pages: 300
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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It's a lesson Sandry learned and that Briar will learn: if you find the mage, you must teach the mage, even if you have to rescue her from gangs!

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

Second in The Circle Opens and sixth in the overall Emelan fantasy series for middle-grade readers and revolving around Briar Rose and his discovery, Evvy. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Emelan books on my website.

My Take

The idea of the tattoos Briar gave himself may have backfired a bit, but they suit him.

I like that Pierce has the kids finding apprentices whose magic is not the same as their own. It provides the storyline more independence as the apprentices require more characters to be brought in and made a part of the “family”.

It’s taken until Briar’s story for me to realize the meaning of “The Circle Opens”. I mean, duhhh, the original circle is Briar, Sandry, Tris, and Daja. With this second quartet of books, The Circle Opens as each discovers a mage who needs teaching. I suspect The Circle Reforged will bring the four back together, although I haven’t figured out what their adventures might be!

I do love that Briar’s trees are arguing with him. I can’t decide if I think the trees are like siblings or independent-thinking pets, lol.

Using the gang war as a device to influence Evvy to trust Briar was a good idea. It helps the conflict over Evvy accepting Briar’s help smoother, more natural.

That so-called Lady is a piece of work. Bored, she resorts to stirring up trouble, murder, and worse. That Jooba-hooba is almost worse, for he was taught better. It’s quite spiteful of me, but I love the idea of what that Stonesplicer has coming to him, *snicker*. And I don’t mean only the scolding Rosethorn will give him!

There are good values in this story for children — doing the right thing, generosity, thinking of others, fair dealing, all the reasons why gang life is bad — and Pierce presents them well. There are no lectures in here!

The Story

Briar and Rosethorn are off on their own adventure, settled in the town of Chammur while they help the farmers there. It’s very much a work-study trip for Briar. While Rosethorn helps the farmers, Briar works with the local temple, replenishing their stores.

It’s on one of his trips to Golden House that Briar encounters a girl with magic, and he learns the lesson Sandry learned in Magic Steps, 1 (5): He who discovers the mage must teach the mage.

The Characters

Briar Moss is a plant mage, part of a circle of four young people who are capable of prodigious feats of magic. He’s brought his personal tree, his shakkan that is his storehouse of power, with him.

Evumeimei “Evvy” Dingzai is a runaway slave and will be a stone mage. Meanwhile she lives in the stench-filled caves in the upper heights with her pack of cats: Mystery, Asa, Monster, Ria, Apricot, Ball, and one more. Qinling is a resident of the caves and speaks Evvy’s native language with her.

Dedicate Rosethorn of Winding Circle temple in Emelan is his teacher and a highly renowned plant mage. She is also a member of Winding Circle’s Initiate Council and the Mage-council of the University at Lightsbridge.


Jebilu Stoneslicer is the only stone mage in town. Sulya sells herbs and charms. Mutabir Kemit doen Polumri is the governor of the Watch; his residence is at the base of Justice Rock. Hedax Yoson leads the squad who “escorts” Briar. Pahan Turaba Guardsall is a Mohunite mage and Polumri’s aide.

The gangs in Chammur

The Camelgut are…
…the gang in Briar’s neighborhood whom he’s befriended. Hammit was his first contact. Mai, Douna, and Ayasha are some of the other gang members.

The Vipers are…
…a new gang sponsored by a noblewoman. Ikrum Fazhal is their leader. Members of the gang include Sajiv, Orlana, and Yoru.

The Lady Zenadia doa Attaneh, a Chammuran noblewoman and the aunt of the amir, is a manipulating nasty woman who’s bored out of her mind and sadistic. Her armsmaster, Ubayid, will give the gang weapons and teach them how to use them. Her guards include Filyen and Osazi.

The Gate Lords are…
…the premier gang in Chammur.

Golden House is a high end market where rare and costly things can be found as well as anything magic. Nahim Zineer peddles crystals and stones. An eknub is a foreigner. A takameri is a rich woman. Tesku means leader. A pahan is a mage. A thukdak is a street rat. A zernamus is a suck-up, a parasite who lives off the rich.

Niklaren Goldeneye was the mage who discovered Briar. The Thief-Lord “recruited” Briar into his gang. Dedicate Crane is a rival of Rosethorn’s at Winding Circle. Tris, Daja, and Sandry are part of Briar’s mage circle.

The Cover and Title

The colorful cover is the market scene where Briar discovers Evvy polishing rocks, bringing forth their magic, doing Street Magic.

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One response to “Book Review: Street Magic by Tamora Pierce

  1. Oh, I need to reread this series! I loved the Circle of Magic quartet, and have reread it several times, but I only read the Circle Opens books once, and I’ve forgotten a lot of what happens in them. You are right, Tamora Pierce excels at writing really good stories that teach without preaching.

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