Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Daja's Book, Tamora Pierce
Anyhow, these 4 younger kids (I can't remember what age they are at the start, maybe around 10-12?) are found by a renowned mage, Niko. They are brought to a place called Winding Circle in order to learn their magic and learn how to contain and control it. None of the kids new they had any magic within them before this. Sandry's magic is with weaving and the materials used to weave, cotton, silk, etc. Tris's is with weather. Before she learned to control her magic, a bad mood would bring storms and anger would bring lightning. Briar's is with plants and the earth. Daja's is with fire and smithing. Because their abilities are all rare, they are brought together in this small group for learning. They all come from different backgrounds too. Sandry is a noble by blood, Tris from a merchant family, Briar was a street urchin and Daja a Trader.
Daja was a lone survivor of her family's trader ship after a terrible storm and wreck. Because of trader beliefs, that is NOT good. If you are the only survivor, then you are bad luck, you are a trangshi which basically means that you are erased from the books of traders as if you don't exist. She is not allowed to live among traders at all for fear that her bad luck will bring ill fates to the rest of the caravan.
In this book, they have travelled with Sandry's uncle and teachers to a northern land that has been suffering from drought for 3 years, plagued by grass fires, and unable to even mine copper for which they are famous. Sandry's uncle, The Duke is seeing if there's anything he can do to help. The other mages are doing likewise. In a preivous book in order to survive a terrible earth quake, Sandry spun all of their magic's together and now they are finding that their powers are jumping from one to the other, which causes problems. For instance when Briar goes to feel the ground to know what's fully going on with the drying saffron plants-one of the two main forms of money for this community-lightning shoots from his fingers and it kills some of the plants and creates a piece of glass from the sandy soil. Sandry examines some gold thread and it melts. So Sandry has to weave a map of where things are overlapping and re-weave it so they don't interfere with each other anymore. Inadvertently, Daja creates a living iron vine that actually grows and sprouts limbs and buds-so does so when it gets more metal to draw from. The Traders want this item, but according to their law, they can't do business with a trangshi. However, this is such a valuable and unusual item....things might change.
I really like these books, set in alternate times (I think older times for this one), a little like Harry Potter in which some people have magic and some don't, and you have to learn to use it. But unlike it in that you really specialize based on what you have and it's tied to certain elements. And not as sensational. Everyone knows about people with magic and rely on them to help out with their abilities, as Yarrun whose job it is to put out fires. It's nice to see kids from so strikingly different backgrounds become friends and how their backgrounds help give different perspectives on things. And how people can grow to become your family.
These are quick read books and very well written with many noble traits valued, such as honesty and integrity, not being greedy and doing things for the right reason. Being patient and understanding, even when you don't like the other person or how they act. All sorts of characteristics that every parent would want their kids to have. So having many protagonists value those traits makes these great books for a young reader to put on their list as well!