The Circle of Magic series, books 2-4, by Tamora Pierce
A little while ago, I reread the first book of this series, written by my favorite childhood author. When I had initially read it, many years ago, I didn't like it nearly as much as I loved The Song of the Lioness series, and was disappointed. I decided to give it another go and read the first book again, and it turned out that I liked it just fine. Over the last couple of days I read the rest of the series, and I think I understand why I didn't enjoy them in the first place. The Song of the Lioness, along with Pierce's several other series, focuses on one female protagonist. This made it easy for me to identify with her, while also making it simpler for a young reader to follow the thread of the story. The Circle of Magic has four protagonists, one of whom is a boy, and I think it was just a little jarring for my younger self. These books are also Pierce's only to take place in a different universe from all her other series, and that was a world I fell in love with long ago, whose rules and eccentricities I'm as aware of as our own. Loving Alanna's world made it difficult to love Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar's. Reading it now, Pierce's writing still has the same pull on me as when I was 12; she really is a treasure of a young adult writer. And while I don't love them as much as her Tortall books, I look forward to reading the next installment in these young mages' lives.