Title: The Healing in the Vine
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle of Magic #4, Emelan #4
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Mages
Publisher: Omnibus Books
5th sentence, 74th page: When Rosethorn came back, he dragged her to Flick’s bed.
Former ‘street rat’ Briar leads a comfortable life at Winding Circle Temple, learning plant magic from Rosethorn. When a friend becomes ill, she turns to Briar for help but her disease proves beyond even Rosethorn’s power. Briar realises that all of Summersea is in danger. Then the unthinkable happens and Briar must save that which he loves most.
There is something especially terrifying about the plague. Actually, there’s something that is horrible about being sick in general – the feeling that your own body has turned against you. The final book in the Circle of Magic Quartet is a great reminder of how potently terrifying an incurable disease can be. Especially when it can pass undetected from person to person. After all, if anyone can be sick, how do you trust those around you, even your own family?
Although the curing of diseases has progressed far in the past century, it is still a battle to find a way to stop the onslaught of contagious diseases. The horrors of quarantine and the tedium of it are beautifully displayed through Briar’s trials. It is also the first moment of separation from their foster family that Briar has felt. The feeling of loss and homesickness reverberate through the whole story, and make it slightly darker than the other tales in this coming-of-age year that the four mages must go through.
Yet, it is the idea of death in Western culture that seems to scare us most – death is something to be conquered and overcome. And for Briar and the girls, the final death is battled with everything they have. To the point that they accomplish the impossible. Yet, the thing that I like about this tale is that although death is seen as the enemy, it is also seen as a time of rest. It is the end, but it is also the beginning of a new challenge, and although the four still fight against it, there are some within the tale who understand the need to accept its presence, and embrace it when the time is right.