I decided to do them both together seeing as how I read them back to back and they were both pretty quick reads.
Not very many people are fans of Tamora Pierce's Circle series. I've met people who didn't even realize that she wrote outside of Tortall. I'm a little different I started reading Pierce with the circle books. My library didn't have Sandry's Book and after staring at them for months I finally caved and read Tris's Book first.
Somehow, I was completely sucked in. I loved them immediately. I read Tris's Book and knew that I wanted to do that. I wanted to write books that made people feel like I did when I read it.
So, I might be a little bit biased.
I love that Pierce creates these four characters who are so uniquely themselves. They have four different upbringings and frequently have trouble seeing one another outside of what they were raised to think. As they are thrust closer together and even start to intertwine they never lose the characteristics that make them distinctly them.
Tris has always been my favorite of the four. She's sullen and different than the others. She holds the most firmly to what she was raised to believe. Her temper is short and her power is great. I loved that Pierce was so straight forward about the fact that Tris is not a stick insect. She is more than once called 'fat.' Someone people may not appreciate that, may even say it's detrimental in ways but I love it. She doesn't gain power by losing weight or anything like that. She is awesome all the time. Seeing her struggle with Aymery and what his presence meant was brilliant. I so wished that I had weather magic after reading about her. My friends always thought fire would be cooler but I knew wind could be awesomely badass.
Briar is probably my second favorite. The soft spot he has for his magic and plants is awesome. I always loved how he knew how to handle Tris. Knew just what to say to push her buttons but knew how to calm her down. They bond over her teaching him to read (though I wish her self defense lessons would come up again). He is sarcastic and unwilling to forget his old life. He doesn't trust easily and jumps into what he thinks he should do. He acts with his compassion, especially where plants are concerned.
Daja is easily my third favorite. I adore her. She doesn't put up with nonsense from anyone. But she goes at it in a more straight-forward way rather than having Tris' temper. She is the steadiest of the four. She is forced to let go of some of her pasts as it starts to interfere with her work but it never stops being an important piece of her. In the first two books she is never quite at ease with the others who are from upbringings so foreign to her.
Sandry was never my favorite. I don't dislike her but she was always a little too righteous and bubbly for me. Her power is awesome and she acts as sort of a big sister to the others in a lot of ways. She has an awesome spirit and is always willing to go to bat for the other three. It's not so much that I dislike her it's more than I couldn't identify with her as well. It is sort of nice to see her break down in Sandry's Book because it showed how affected she was by what happened to her.
For many of the same reasons I love Rosethorn as well. She's tart and sarcastic and I love her for it. I think Frostpine is next because he's funny and less of a mother hen. Niko's scatterbrainedness is amusing when it comes out but he mostly runs around on errands. Lark has her fantastic moments but has thus far been a little too placid for me.
Between the first two books Tris' has always been my favorite and I think that's because so much more happens. Sandry's is a really fantastic as an introduction and a way to weave the characters together. You get a little sense of everyone in the first. Pierce does a great job of showing how they each bring their upbringing into how they use their magic.
But Tris' Book has the action. Secondary characters are killed and the four are really faced with the consequences of what happens when they lose control or are forced to act without properly thinking of the consequences. They fight and have these fantastic interactions. I love when Briar freaks out after Tris points at him. There's something about that scene that is just beyond wonderful. It has the subtlety to it that Pierce is so fantastic at.
These, much like her other earlier books, I wish were longer. I always feel like then end to quickly because she packs so much in. But they keep their pace all the way through. The pace is suited to the action and that is impressive.
Overall, I give Sandry's Book a rating of Massively Epic and Tris's Book a rating of Beyond Epic.
Pierce accomplishes so much in so few pages.
Next, I'm reading William Sleator's Among the Dolls. It's about 80ish pages of huge spaced out font that should take me next to no time. I have fond, if not creeped out memories of this book so I look forward to reading it again.