Reviews for Battle Magic

Booklist Reviews 2013 December #2
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. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Briar Moss (from Pierce's Circle Quartet books), his mentor Rosethorn, and his protigi Evvy receive an invitation to tour Emperor Weishu's private gardens. Although the Imperial hospitality is bountiful, they can't help but notice the Emperor's cruel streak, and they aid in the escape of the Emperor's most valuable captive, Parahan. Pierce achieves an epic sweep of cultures and intrigue in this wide-ranging volume.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #1
Briar Moss (the plant mage of Pierce's Circle Quartet books), his mentor Rosethorn, and his protege Evvy are traveling through Gyongxe when they receive an invitation to tour Emperor Weishu's private gardens in neighboring Yanjing. Although the Imperial hospitality is bountiful, the three can't help but notice the Emperor's cruel streak. When they leave, Evvy and Briar aid in the escape of the Emperor's most valuable captive, Parahan, the exiled prince of Kombanpur, then flee back to Gyongxe ahead of the Emperor's invading army. Parahan helps lead the Gyongxe defense, but Rosethorn must decide how to protect Briar and Evvy in what is rapidly becoming a war zone. Pierce achieves an epic sweep of cultures and intrigue in this wide-ranging volume, constructing her world with painstaking detail (for example, the ceremonies that take place within the Imperial palace and the wall icons that turn into the lively gods of Gyongxe). But the three mages' powers, their loyalties to one another, and their testing under the rigors of combat are the real draw here. Evvy in particular has a rough time, surviving torture, near-death, and the loss of her beloved feline companions, but she still comes back strong in the battle scenes. Add in the author's signature wry humor, and the result is another winning companion to Pierce's highly successful Circle Quartet and Circle Opens fantasy franchises. anita l. burka Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #1
Pierce continues to fill gaps in her Circle of Magic sequence—here sending three of her mages eastward to defend the (Tibet-ish) land of Gyongxe against an invasion from (China-esque) Yanjing. Falling chronologically between the events in Street Magic (2001) and Melting Stones (2008), the tale focuses on plant mages Rosethorn and Briar and stone mage Evumeimei. They travel from small but mountainous Gyongxe to the rich palace of Emperor Weishu in Evvy's adjacent homeland and then back in a series of battles and tests of both magic and character. Though the popular author's prose and pacing are as fluent as ever, her efforts to elaborate on or at least disguise her cultural models are, at best, cursory, and her plotting is likewise paint-by-numbers. Having trotted from pillar to post, the central trio splits up at the story's exact center so that Evvy can go off to a first meeting with the animate mountain's heart that will be her traveling companion in later adventures, while Rosethorn and Briar essentially march in place, from a narrative standpoint anyway. The three reunite in time to see Weishu and his teeming armies engage Gyongxe's many major and minor gods in a climactic battle. Pierce herself has teeming armies of fans, guaranteeing that this routine, cozily predictable outing will be a huge seller. (map, glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 September #2

In this exciting standalone novel that follows the events of Street Magic (2001), the plant mage Rosethorn and her students Briar and Evvy travel to Gyongxe, a Tibetlike mountain kingdom rife with gods and magic. They are then summoned to the larger neighboring Yanjing empire where the Emperor wants Rosethorn to visit his glorious flower gardens. The three mages soon realize that the Emperor is a monster who will torture or kill anyone who crosses him and who, having conquered the lands to the north, has decided to take Gyongxe. Rosethorn and her students flee Yanjing and join the smaller kingdom's fight for survival. Pierce continues to use magic creatively ("He glanced at the wall paintings. The people and the creatures in them leaned forward.... the nagas, the winged lions, the giant spiders... were wriggling, as if they meant to peel themselves free") and her protagonists, although not without thorns, are easy to love. The author's many fans, the first generation of which have now grown to adulthood, should help make this tale as successful as earlier books set in the Circle universe. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 October

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, WI

[Page 128]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2014 February
This is the story of a war on the other side of the world, which Evvy, Briar, and Rosethorn fight.  The three mages are traveling.  Evvy is twelve, Briar, sixteen.  Rosethorn, their adult mentor, is just six years past her brush with death.  The trio has been away from home for two years and has only Yanjing to visit before heading home.  They leave Gyongxe, ruled by a boy god-king who channels the voices of gods and listens to his people, and enter Yanjing, an empire under the complete and utter control of one truly evil man who thinks he is more than a god.  The three mage travelers turn into mage warriors, not by choice, but by the need created by their own senses of friendship and honor.  There is a certain joy in being able to return to a story you thought was finished, to revisit characters and learn bits of their history you did not know, knowing in advance they had lived to tell the tale.  That is the pleasure awaiting Pierce's fans in Battle Magic.  The book, which takes place in the middle of the Circle Opens series, is complete within itself with well-developed characters and a solid plot which will win Pierce new fans who are in the enviable position of having all her other books yet to read. This is a graphic tale, not for the squeamish, but for those who are willing to travel through the slavery, torture, and horrendous battles with the mages, there are amazing creatures and new magic to discover in this enjoyable read.--Beth Karpas 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.