“Outcast Trader Daja, along with her fellow mages-in-training, journeys from Winding Circle to the Gold Ridge Mountains, where drought threatens widespread famine. There, Daja creates an astonishing object: a living metal vine. A caravan of Traders covets the vine, and Daja’s dealings with her former people reawaken a longing for familiar ways. Daja must choose–should she return to the Traders or remain with the Winding Circle folk who have become her family?”
Pub Date: 1998
Better, cooler UK Title: The Fire in the Forging
Daja’s Book introduced some of the more interesting character development in the series so far. As the sole survivor of a shipwreck in Sandry’s Book, the Traders labeled Daja trangshi or bad luck. No Traders will speak with her, touch her, or even acknowledge her existence, because they believe bad luck is catching and they have no wish to catch hers. While going about the mundane task of making nails, Daja loses focus, and since the children’s magics have gotten more and more intertwined, Daja’s metal magic and Briar’s plant magic combine to create a living metal vine. The Traders are desperate to buy it from her, and Daja in turn is desperate to communicate with her people again.
Pierce dives into Trader customs in a big way through Daja’s business dealings with their agent. Even after allowing their representative to speak with Daja, the Traders treat her with contempt and disrespect. She has to learn to stand up for herself and stop tolerating their poor treatment. For the first time, she questions that their treatment of her has been anything other than correct, and forms her own opinion on a culture that labels a little girl as an outcast because of an accident she could not control. This was a fist pump moment for me, because I kept thinking, “Why would you want them to bring you back? You’re a kid and they cut you off and sent you away after your whole family died! NOT COOL, TRADERS.” Daja grows a great deal, and learns that the relationship she has with her mentor Frostpine and the other three children is far more important than being, or not being, trangshi.
Daja’s Book is my favorite of the series so far, but I’ve already started Briar’s Book and it’s very good. We’ll see!