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Sandry, Daja, Tris, and Briar are together again, but it’s been years since they’ve seen each other, and their experiences and secrets keep them from reforging their magical circle. Will they ever be able to trust each other again?

The Circle has reformed. Sandry, Daja, Tris and Briar are together again. But the years apart have changed them. They are 18, adults, no longer children, and about to wear their mage medallions openly. They each have had experiences the others haven’t shared, and each of them have their secrets, their angers, their wounds and scars, both seen and unseen. The easy friendship they shared as children is no more. A new bond must be forged among them, as they begin to get to know each other all over again.

When Sandry’s cousin to the north, the Empress of Namorn, demands a visit from her kinswoman, the others agree to go along and travel with her. No one knows what the Empress’s agenda might be, or what plans lie behind her thinly-veiled request for a summer-long visit.

But life in the Empress’s court is much different from the simple lives the four have lead so far, and northern customs are much harder to understand than those of the more informal south. And then there is the Empress herself. The members of her court love and fear her equally. She is a good ruler, but determined to have her way, regardless of the cost. And she certainly has plans for Sandry and her friends. She wants to marry Sandry off to one of her nobles, and keep her wealth in Namorn, since the royal treasuries are getting alarmingly low. And she has tempting offers for the other three as well, including power, wealth, land, and the promise to give them their fondest dreams. If Sandry doesn’t go along with her plans, the Empress just may make use of an ancient Namorean custom — kidnapping a woman and holding her prisoner alone and against her will until she gives in and signs a marriage contract, binding her to her kidnapper for the rest of her life, whether she loves the man or despises him.

The Empress has her plans, but she doesn’t know that Sandry and her sisters and brother are far more powerful than they seem, far more experienced and unafraid than they seem, and far more aware of her plans than she realizes. She is also unaware that the broken circle of magic they share has begun to repair itself, allowing them to share their new and stronger powers in ways that were not possible previously. The will of the Empress is to be obeyed, or she will crush the one who rebels against it. But what if there are four rebels, a magical quartet, rather than just one individual? Who will prevail then?

This booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart.