Briar is a plant mage – he can distil medicines, grow a garden in the blink of an eye and persuade a tree to trap a criminal. Learning how to channel your power is vital. Briar’s empathy with nature can heal – but it could kill just as easily.
Evvy is a street rat. She doesn’t even know she has stone magic, let alone how to control it – and she doesn’t want to learn anything. Why should she care if people get hurt? None of them has ever cared about her…
When I learned there was a second series about Briar, Daja, Sandry, and Tris, Street Magic was the instalment I was most excited about. Briar and his relationship with Rosethorn was my favourite in the Circle of Magic series and after finishing Briar’s Book, I wanted more.
Four years after Niko brought him to Winding Circle, Briar is travelling and studying with Rosethorn. Thanks to his background, he’s always been grounded and forthright, but his four years of study and experience have settled and centred him. He and Rosethorn make an excellent team; they’re supportive, working together and independently as needed, and instinctively know what the other needs without much discussion.
Stumbling across Evvy in a Chammuri market, Briar is intrigued with her stone magic. When he tries to ask her about it, though, she disappears. As a former street kid and gang member, Briar thinks he knows everything there is to know about living on the street and fending for himself. He soon learns that Evvy doesn’t seem to follow any of these rules, though. I love Evvy. Maybe because Pasco was a letdown of a new addition to the cast in Magic Steps, but Evvy is unique and interesting. When Briar reveals she has magic and tries to tell her what to do next, she makes her own decisions and refuses to settle or compromise, never playing the victim. She’s grateful for what he does to help and support her but doesn’t let that affect her determination. While Briar’s initial offer of a new life meant very little to her, when he shows her he’s willing to follow through on his promises and support her decisions, she allows herself to start trusting him.
Briar makes an excellent teacher. He’s patient but not lenient, he finds ways to interest and reward Evvy, and he encourages her to think for herself. At the beginning, he thinks he knows the way the world works when you live on the street. He initially judges the way she’s been surviving on her own, believing she’s left herself open to danger and hardship but not going a gang for support. The best part about Briar, though, is his openness to new information and his ability to change his mind when he’s proven wrong.
"They never tell you some things," Briar said bitterly. "They tell you mages have wonderful power and they learn all kinds of secrets. Nobody ever mentions that some secrets you don't ever want to learn."
"All you can do is learn good to balance the bad," Rosethorn told him. "Learn and do all the good within your reach. Then, if you wake in a sweat, you have something to set against the dream."
While I certainly enjoyed Street Magic more than Magic Steps, I still found the overall story was fairly average and predictable. I loved getting to check in and see how powerful Briar has become and I’m relieved his personality and character did not change as dramatically as Sandry’s over his four years of training. It was nice to see how he had found a way to support himself, and now Evvy, through his love of his shakkan and his work with miniature trees.