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Battle Magic Hardcover – September 24, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-Pierce returns to the world of the Winding Circle to relate the events that befell plant mages Briar and Rosethorn and Briar's student, stone mage Evvy, between The Will of the Empress (2005), Street Magic (2001), and Melting Stones (2007, all Scholastic). The book opens in the kingdom of Gyongxe where the trio watches shamans dancing to call forth statues from the mountainside. Soon afterward, an invitation arrives from the Emperor of Yanjing, the powerful nation that borders the mountainous, god-filled Gyongxe. They travel to the emperor's court to view his famous gardens but quickly learn that he is a cruel man who keeps slaves and punishes gardeners and plants alike for perceived failures. Evvy impulsively decides to free Parahan, an enslaved prince, and is assisted by Briar, who, as a former thief, knows how to pick a lock. In return Parahan lets them know that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxe. Rosethorn is bound by her oath as a dedicate of the Winding Circle to return to Gyongxe and warn them of the invasion, and Briar and Evvy refuse to be left behind. The emperor has thousands of troops and mages trained in battle, but the friends can call on the plants and stones and Gyongxe has its own supernatural defenders. Pierce combines wonderful characterization with unique magic, realms, and creatures to create a splendid tale.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WIα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Stone magic apprentice Evvy and plant mages Rosethorn and Briar are preparing to return to Emelan from a trip east exploring exotic flora when they are caught in a war between a greedy land-grasping emperor and a gentle god-king. When Rosethorn commits to defending the land of the First Circle Temple, Briar and Evvy refuse to return home without her and each must find their inner warrior mage if they are to survive. Fans of the Circle of Magic and Circle Opens series will delight in this volume, which fills in history between Street Magic (2001) and Cold Fire (2002). Pierce’s inspired world building continues to be remarkable, with stone paintings that tease those who can see them, animal variants that live inside mountains, and shamanistic rituals described to such a degree that readers will believe they have come straight from National Geographic. Though deftly integrated, this amount of background information makes for a meal rather than a snack, and sometimes the characters’ introspections are a bit repetitive. Still, this is a meal to savor. Grades 6-9. --Cindy Welch

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439842972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439842976
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tamora Pierce is a bestselling author of fantasy books for teenagers. Her books, known for their teenaged girl warriors and wizards, have received critical acclaim and a strong fanbase.


Tamora Pierce was drawn to books from a young age. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, the child of a "long, proud line of hillbillies," her family never had much. "We were poor, but I didn't know it then. We had a garden where my folks grew fruit and vegetables and our water came from a well," she explains. But one thing they did have was plenty of books. So Tamora read.

A self-proclaimed "geek," she devoured fantasy and science fiction novels, and by the age of 12 was mimicking her literary idols and writing her own action-packed stories. It was thanks to her father that Tamora began writing. "He heard me telling myself stories as I did dishes, and he suggested that I try to write some of them down," Pierce says.

But Tamora's novels had one major difference: unlike the books she was reading, her stories featured teenaged girl warriors. "I couldn't understand this lapse of attention on the part of the writers I loved, so until I could talk them into correcting this small problem, I wrote about those girls, the fearless, bold, athletic creatures that I was not, but wanted so badly to be."

Seventeen years later, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, a brief career in teen social work and some time spent writing for radio, Tamora Pierce held true to her childhood crusade, and published Alanna: The First Adventure, the first in a quartet about a valiant, young, female warrior. Pierce's heroine struck a chord with readers across the country and quickly earned her a loyal following.

Pierce is now a #1 New York Times bestselling author and has written twenty-five books, including her newest, BEKA COOPER #2: Bloodhound. "It's a pretty good life, if I do say so myself. Struggling along as a kid and even through my twenties, it's the kind of life I dreamed of but never believed I would get. Yet here I am, after a lot of work, a lot of worry, a lot of care for details, and a massive chunk of luck, the kind that brought me such strong friends and readers. Pretty good for a hillbilly, yes? And I never take it for granted," she says.

Pierce lives in upstate New York with her husband Tim and their three cats and two birds.


"[Tamora Pierce's heroines] faithfully reiterate an ideal of feminine power that relies on brains, not beauty; of feminine attractiveness that relies on competence, not helplessness; and of feminine alliances that grow stronger, not weaker, in the face of conflicts." -The New York Times


"With its rollicking adventures [and] appealing characters . . . Terrier will be in strong demand by Pierce's fans. It will keep readers on the edge of their seats." -School Library Journal, Starred

"Memorable characters and well-drawn settings. . . . This timely and appealing anthology will surely help swell the ranks of teenage fantasy readers." -School Library Journal

"The plot sweeps readers along in a whirlwind of court intrigue, deception, murder, and romance. The humor is wicked, and the plot twists will keep the pages turning to the supremely satisfying end. Teens will be inspired by Aly's determination, her resourcefulness, and her heart." -School Library Journal

"Aly arrives fully formed, a snarky, talented uber-heroine. Cameos of old favorites complement a rich cast of new characters. Aly's difficulty with the complexity of colonialism adds surprising, welcome depth." -Kirkus Reviews

"Unrelentingly realistic in its depiction of the horrors of war, this novel draws the reader into a complete and believable fantasy world. Pierce provides exquisite details of the weaponry, topography, and culture of her world, and her control of a voluminous cast of characters is masterful." -Voice of Youth Advocates

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#72 in Books > Teens
#72 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C. Ellwood on September 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For the first time, Tammy has messed with her own timeline. Battle Magic takes place 2 years before Melting Stones, but after the events of Street Magic. Here, Briar, Rosethorn, and Briar's student Evvy are on a tour of Gyongxe, a nation that is nearest in the world to the heavens and, therefore, home to many different faiths. They are invited to visit neighboring Yanjing, specifically to see the famed imperial gardens. There, they see the emperor's cruelty firsthand in dealing with a rosebush that had the bad fortune to succumb to mold and in a prince kept chained as a slave and the emperor's pet.

From here we get to experience the war that is mentioned in passing in both Melting Stones and later in The Will of the Empress in the form of Briar's PTSD (or at least the way he deals with it after the fact). Make no mistake about it, this is war. It is bloody and cruel and entirely unrepentant. It's the darkest Tammy has gone down the violence road (though the major conflict in Lady Knight comes close), and it's certainly the most explicit of her books. She isn't gratuitous about it, but she isn't pulling any punches, either, which I appreciated. Because of this, though, it requires a slightly more mature audience. I don't want to say older, necessarily, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to make sure your child (if that's who you're shopping for) is prepared for the level of blood and guts that come with this story. True to form, the conflict in the story echoes some aspect of real world cultures/places/events, and this will seem to some very much an echo of China's aggression toward Tibet, which is something also to be mindful of if you're looking for similar subject matter or ways to tie this in with other interests.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gretchen @ My Life is a Notebook on September 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
So, you remember how I said I was excited for this book? Immediately after I posted about it, Gretchen and I got an ARC. We were both extremely excited. But because Gretchen has more ARCs to review than I do, I get to be the one talking about it! (Which in retrospect may have been a bad idea, because I am very sleep-deprived. Bear with me.) Before I do that, here's some quick, spoiler-free context if you haven't read Tammy's Circle books:

Briar started out as a child mage, orphaned and taken in by Rosethorn and her friend/lover Lark, raised alongside three foster-sisters who were also mages. They (accidentally?) did something which made them heaps stronger, which I imagine caused problems for the adults in their lives because they were like eleven. Now Briar's older, and travelling, and this book happens.

I'm summing this up because I often think of the Circle books-the early ones, anyway-as aimed at a younger target audience. Things got a lot more serious in The Will of the Empress [edit: Lauren pointed out that I was referencing the wrong imperially-titled Tammy book. I swear I know what I'm talking about], but I think I've always thought of the Circle books as benign, light reading. I knew this had the potential to be a lot more serious, but I don't think I really believed it until I saw it. This is not a book for kids. She isn't pulling her punches. This is a war, and it's serious, and nobody is safe. She doesn't flinch away from any of it.

So I guess what I'm saying is, just because some of the Circle books are for a younger audience and you may not have read them doesn't mean you should avoid this book. It stands on its own pretty well, and it's a good book.

As always, Tammy is fantastic at setting, both physical and cultural.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A. Amnamare on October 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Short version: if you're looking for a quick, fun read, you'll like this; if you're a Circle of Magic fan or you like to dig into a story, you'll probably find this a bit lacking.

Let's get this out of the way: Battle Magic is a fun read. It's entertaining, and the world of the book is richly drawn (par for the course for the Circle books). The pace moves right along.

There's something very stilted and off about the book, though. In some ways, the pace is too fast: subplots start and are over very quickly, no one stays in one place long enough to really develop the deep sense of place and character the other Circle books have, and there's no real suspense; what should be some really suspenseful subplots and moments are utterly ruined by the fact that either we the reader know nothing really bad has happened, or they get resolved in just a few pages.


This book doesn't actually fit with any of the previous canon from Will of the Empress or Melting Stones about the war, so if that bothers you, consider yourself warned. It's also very ... perfunctory, when it tries to address the supposed horrors of war - tacking on a typically-happy Circle-esque ending on a book where that undermines the entire plot - and it introduces an active supernatural element that not only really doesn't fit the Circle universe, but retroactively ruins the characters of Evvy and Briar in Will of the Empress and Melting Stones. If you don't like "they all conveniently forget" endings, you really need to skip this book.

The biggest problem, though, is that this book is undeniably racist.
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