The Circle Opens Book 4: Shatterglass

Edit: Do you remember like two years ago when I was rereading all the Tamora Pierce books that were, like, my life in middle school? Me neither, but apparently that was totally something that happened. I finished reviews for a bunch of books too, that for some reason I never posted. I found them in my drafts folder today, so here they are! In case you were waiting on the edge of your seat to see how this series ended. Sorry about that.

Woo!! Powered through The Circle Opens series! [Edit: LOL] Clearly I like the Circleteers way better when they are either separate or older. Probably both! Of course, I liked this book the best since it’s about Tris, my favorite Circleteer of them all. Here are some reasons why she is awesome: 1) Weather magic=clearly the best magic, 2) she likes books, 3) she is generally annoyed at others, which is a welcome relief from the other suspiciously cheerful Circleteers, and 4) fat kid solidarity. Luckily Tamora Pierce didn’t harp too much on how Tris is The Fat One in this book. The cover art at least doesn’t seem to think it’s that bad:

For the first time ever, I think I like the less melodramatic cover on the left

Tris and her teacher, the fabulous Niko, are traveling far to the South in a city that has a ton of glassblowers and also a rigid caste system. Tris witnesses an inept journeyman glassblower magically create a living glass dragon by accident! And then have a tantrum about how NO HE DOESN’T HAVE MAGIC GO AWAY. Keth is probably the most interesting Circleteer student-mage of the series, because he’s at least 20! Luckily, Tris is the bossiest person in all of Circleteer-land so this is not really a problem. The main conflict in this book is a lot like Magic Steps (Book 1) in that there is a crazy murderer loose in the city and only Tris and Keth can bring him/her to justice! Unlike in Book 1, we never get anything from the murderer’s point of view, meaning his identity remains a mystery until the very end! Good job, Tamora Pierce, you have successfully navigated the crime/mystery genre! Instead, we occasionally get passages from the point of view of Dema, police mage who, damn it, is going to CLEAN UP THIS CITY no matter what it takes! He reminded me a lot of a less dead Wulfric Snaptrap and less seedy Sam Vimes. Plus, Tris has TWO adorable animal companions, who somehow don’t even annoy me at all!

Awards

Best New Character: Dema, the police mage!
Dema is from the First Class, which apparently means he is super noble and takes it as his role to protect the lesser classes. Since the murderer is going after street dancing girls, no one else seems to think it’s a problem, but he will not rest until the killer is stopped! Even if it means pissing off all of the city’s priests, who hate justice. The only thing missing was for him to constantly mutter about how he was too old for this.

Returning Character Honorable Mention: Nikolaren Goldeye!
Tris’ teacher is ALL ABOUT wearing the fanciest clothes possible and pretty much owning everyone at magic, which sounds like my dream job. He’s basically Numair from the Immortals series, without all that troubling pedophilia. Thanks for not making a pass at Tris, Niko! Since you’re in a Tamora Pierce book, I know it’s a constant danger you must guard against.

Tris’ Improvement Score: +0%=100/100
Oh, Tris. Never change.

Thing I Most Wish Was Real: Pet Winds
So with Tris’ weather magic, she can basically control winds. She uses them for all kinds of awesome things, most noticeably as personal, portable air conditioning in the hot climates, and one time to fly her up a flight of stairs. My goals in life include flying and never having to sweat again, so I am psyched about both.

The Play-by-Play

Chapter one
Tris is exploring Tharios! She asks a garbage collector for directions, and the girl yells at her because she’s one of the Untouchables, a hated caste who handle gross things. You’re supposed to just ignore them! Tris thinks this is bullshit. She stumbles upon a glassblower who clears doesn’t know what he’s doing! He accidentally creates a magical glass dragon, and then tries to kill it! Tris saves the glass dragon and yells at the guy for not controlling his magic. The guy yells back that he has no magic and then breaks some things. Keth the glassblower backstory: he used to be a great glassblower whom everyone loved, but then he was struck by lightning and now he can’t do it anymore without screwing up! Boo hoo! His family kicked him out and now he lives with his glassblowing cousin trying desperately to regain his lost talent. Dema, police mage, is haunted by the ghosts of murdered dancing girls, demanding he find their killer!! Their bodies are always strangled and left dramatically in public places! Apparently Tharios is terrified of death and uncleanliness and the priests have to purify every place a body was found ASAP, which makes it impossible to dust for prints or whatever magical detectives do. He is super annoyed!

Chapter two
Niko thinks the glass dragon is weird, but pretty. He tells Tris to check on Keth tomorrow just in case he has no teacher. Niko is busy at a mage convention where they are writing a group book about all the different ways to tell the future/present. Tris really wants to meet someone who can read the winds, but those people are super rare. Keth lives in the pleasure district in a house with dancing girls because it’s super cheap. One of his housemates got murdered and now another one named Yali has adopted her toddler. Keth decides what Tris was screaming at him was correct, he has magic, and he vows to do something about it.

Chapter three
Keth goes to the mages’ hall and they give him the magical SATs. Everyone is confused by his power, so they take him to a mage named Dawnspeaker, who is Niko’s BFF. She, of course, suggests he talk to Niko. Niko says it’s mos def lightning magic, and that, Keth is in luck!, there is another lightning mage in the city to train him! Obvs it’s Tris and they are both mad annoyed. The glass ball Keth made as part of his magic test was full of lightning! But when the lightning cleared, it had a picture of a dead dancing girl in it! Some secretary brings it to Dema, who uses it to discover the body of another murder victim.

Chapter four
Dema comes and arrests Keth because of his suspicious glass ball.

Chapter five
Tris comes along and pitches a fit when they try to torture him. Eventually Keth proves he is innocent, and Dema asks him to pretty please make another glass ball since it might help in catching the murderer.

Chapter six
Tris tells Keth he probably won’t be able to do one right away, but he thinks he knows best because he’s an adult. Tris shrugs and lets him screw up. He’s finally able to make another ball but he’s too tired to clear it of lightning.

Chapter seven
The globe finally clears and Dema rushes to the scene it shows, finding the dead girl, but she hasn’t been dead very long!! He tries to follow the trail, but priests stop him, demanding that he fast and stay in the temple for a day and a night because he is obviously getting too careless about tracking death bad luck into the city. Dema is pissed.

Chapter eight
Tris visits Keth’s house in the evening and meets Yali and her new foster-daughter Glaki. She tries to convince Keth to come to a lightning party with her but Keth is still scared of lightning after, you know, getting struck by it.

Chapter nine
Tris finally tricks/convinces Keth to come onto the roof with her and realize that lightning can touch him without hurting him now. The glass dragon has been vomiting pretty glass shapes! Keth and Tris are going to sell them as jewelry for money! OMG Yali was murdered last night!! Dema is going to try to get the city to close the pleasure district because it’s dangerous, but everyone is afraid the killer will then go after people who matter. Dema is super pissed!

Chapter ten
Everyone is freaking out and crying at Keth’s house. Only Tris remembers Glaki, the toddler who has lost two mother figures this week! Tris also had a sad orphaned childhood so she knows just what to do. Also, Glaki maybe has magic? Niko gives Tris a book about how to scry on the wind, although he warns her that it makes almost everyone who tries it go crazy. Niko is the best adult supervision ever. Keth and Tris work together to try to make a globe that will predict the future faster.

Chapter eleven
Dema says he’s going to dress his lady police officers as dancing girls for murderer-bait. The latest murder victim was taken from a bar with a cover! Everyone is shocked that the murderer could get in there and strike without anyone noticing!

Chapter twelve
Tris finds some untouchables alone and asks them if one of them could be the murderer. They immediately reply no, because there would be a total untouchable massacre. Keth makes another globe, and they have to wait for it to clear. The policewomen in costume are bad at pretending to be dancing girls. This time when Dema rushes to the globe’s location he finds no dead girl! Because the globe was telling the future!!! Unfortunately, he finds a dead girl at the entrance to the sewer, but still! Progress!

Chapter thirteen
Keth makes another globe and this time it clears super quick! It shows a girl underneath a tree in the rain! The police start scoping out all trees.

Chapter fourteen
Keth finds the girl under the tree just in time!!! She is being strangled!! He runs over to help her and the killer runs away! He decides to save the girl by cutting the scarf strangling her than going after the killer, which annoys the police. Tris is practicing wind seeing when she sees the murderer!!!! She runs out into the dark rainy street! Niko sees that Tris is about to meet the murderer and tells Dema and Keth they better find her fast or the murderer will be dead!

Chapter fifteen
The murderer explains his evil plans to Tris: he was one of the untouchables just like Tris thought!! That’s how he got around without anyone noticing. His mom was a dancing girl and his dad was rich and powerful, but neither wanted him, so he was dramatically tossed into the gutter with the untouchables. Now he takes his revenge!!! Tris is annoyed and almost kills him, but then the men arrive and convince her not to, except Keth who wants MOB JUSTICE. Tris goes off and warns the untouchables she talked to before, since once word gets out they will all be in danger. Five days later, Tris wakes up from her big-magic-coma-nap and discovers that the murderer was sentenced to death, and all of the untouchables fled the city and are negotiating a return with the officials, who are starting to promise them things like rights. Tris is going to take Glaki back with them to get mage training. Dema has been promoted! But he thinks the seedy parts of town need him, so he refused.

Previously: The Circle Opens Book 3: Cold Fire
Next: Circleteer Standalone, The Will of the Empress

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