Daja’s Book is the third in Tamora Pierce’s children’s fantasy book series, Circle of Magic. I was previously classifying this as young adult, but this book has firmly set my mind on the subject. At the end of these books, I keep wanting more from them. More development. More sophistication. More actual content (they’re very short). More time spent (they take place over very short periods of time). And I finally decided, basically just about five minutes ago, that the expectations I was placing on this series are not ones it’s designed to meet. Tammy’s other books (in Tortall with Alanna and company) are what I’m used to from her, and have much more complexity, length, etc. These are skewed younger, so I have to remind myself to evaluate them on that level.
And on that level, they are really freaking fantastic.
This time around it’s Daja’s turn to have a feature story, and it’s a pretty great one. The kids’ magics are even more tied up with each other than in the last book, to the point where it’s endangering them. So they have to sort that out. Also, they’re out touring the countryside with their teachers, who are helping maintain local communities beset with drought and fires. In the midst of this, Daja accidentally creates a living plant made out of iron, and attracts the attention of her former people, the Traders, who had banished her and named her persona non grata (essentially). So she’s also got to deal with her heritage and the prejudicial nature of her home culture. As always, Tammy books do a deft job exploring power dynamics between genders, cultures, classes, all that stuff. But she does it subtly and with cool magic and characters you can love.
If I ever have kids, this is a series I will definitely be giving them, although I do hope that in future installments of the Emelan world that the kids are a bit more grown up, and the books reflect that.