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Street Magic (Circle Opens)
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Gr 5-8-In this second book of the quartet, 14-year-old Briar leaves Winding Circle with his teacher Rosethorn to take magical plant lore to farmers and folks in other areas. During an extended stay in Chammur, he meets a young "street rat" named Evvy, who unknowingly possesses strong stone magic. While trying to find a proper mage for her, Briar runs afoul not only of the many street gangs in the city, but of a powerful and evil rich woman as well. Briar, one of the four children featured in "The Circle of Magic" quartet, is a likable, streetwise kid. His magical link with plants is so strong that all green things literally reach out to him as he goes by; even tattoos he created on his hands with vegetable dye tend to take on a life of their own. Evvy's magic isn't explored in as much detail, but readers will still be fascinated by her ability to manipulate rocks and minerals. Lady Zenadia, who manipulates and kills young street gang members, is a much less successful character; her motivation is unclear, which makes every grisly scene with her seem unnecessary and even gratuitous. Chammur, which has the ambience of an ancient Arabic city, makes for a vivid, exotic setting and adds zest to Briar's adventures. A solid addition to this enthralling series.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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