This review will have spoilers for the Circle Quartet and the Circle Opens Quartet. This is part of the Circle Reforged series and the storyline picks up right after the four mages had their own separate adventures.
Sandry is excited for her friends return to Emelan. She missed Daja, Tris, and Briar. Her friends missed her, but they want to make their own way in the world, without Sandry's money. The group also hides their dark secrets from each other and close off the magical bond that allows them to read each other's minds. Sandry really needs to visit her home country of Namorn to deal with taxes on her family's land, but she refuses to ask her sisters and brother to go with her. It is only through Duke Vedris that the four reluctantly set off for Namorn together. It is through their journey there and the evils of the Empress's court that the group begins to realize how special they and their bonds are. The Empress wants to keep Sandry and is willing to allow nobles to try to force Sandry into marriage. She also tries to ensnare Briar and Tris through praising their magics and Daja through the love of one of her maids. The group will have to work together to foil the will of the Empress, but can they reforge themselves or will they fall victim to their own pride?
I love the Circle books. The individual adventures of the group were great, but when they are together the story is fabulous. Pierce knows how to write strong female heroines and their strength is not always physical. Being a strong stitch-witch, controlling the weather, and being willing to open up to love are all strengths of her women. She can take an ordinary household task like weaving and embroidery and make it into something spectacular. Not only are her female characters great, but her male characters like Briar and Duke Vedris are strong men who value strong women. Briar might play the field, but he does have respect for his sisters and even realizes his promiscuity is not something to be proud of. Vedris wants to make Sandry his next in line, even though he has male heirs.
Favorite Character: It is so hard to pick a favorite. Briar makes me laugh the most and is the most down to earth of the group. Daja is a strong woman who values everyone she meets and throws aside conventional ideas of being a woman, while still embracing her own emotions.
Favorite Quote: "Love makes fools of us all, and desire does far worse."
I love Pierce's work and cannot recommend her books enough! Definitely 5 cups of cocoa!