Tamora Pierce is the critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, including the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets, THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS, MELTING STONES, and, most recently, the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Beka Cooper trilogy. She lives in New York State with her husband, Tim, and her seven cats and two birds. Visit her online at www.tamorapierce.com.
Gr 5-8-In this final book in the quartet, the focus is on Briar, one of the four talented mages-in-training who live and study at Winding Circle Temple. During a visit to a neighboring town, Briar learns that his friend, a young "street rat" named Flick, has come down with a strange illness. Soon, others are stricken with the disease and Briar and his teacher Rosethorn end up in quarantine, using magic and medicine to nurse the increasing numbers of plague victims. Meanwhile, Briar's friends Sandry, Tris, and Daja do their part at Winding Circle, each using her own brand of magic to help end the epidemic. At the height of the crisis, Rosethorn becomes desperately ill, and the young mages must use their powers to follow her past death's doorstep. Fans of the previous titles will be satisfied with this installment. Briar is an intriguing and likable fellow, and this book brings out some of his conflicting feelings about the contrast between his thieving street-rat past and his current privileged position. This fast-paced, imaginative fantasy could be read and enjoyed on its own, but it works better as part of the quartet, which covers the span of a year and begins with Sandry's Book (Scholastic, 1997).-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
"Carefully crafted, entirely satisfying fantasy".