Cover featuring Sandry's first discovery of Pasco.
|Series||The Circle Opens|
|Publication date||March 2000|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-590-39588-2 (hardback edition) & ISBN 0-590-39605-6 (paperback edition)|
|LC Classification||PZ7.P61464 Mag 2000|
|Followed by||Street Magic|
Magic Steps is the opening book of The Circle Opens quartet of young adult fantasy novels by Tamora Pierce. It is preceded by the Circle of Magic quartet, taking place four years after the conclusion of Briar's Book. It portrays the adventures of Sandrilene fa Toren, the noble thread mage and her first experience as a teacher of magic.
Like the previous quartet, Magic Steps is set in Summersea, the capital of Emelan.
When her three foster-siblings leave Summersea to travel the world with their teachers, Sandry and her teacher, Lark, remain alone in Winding Circle Temple. After her uncle, Duke Vedris, suffers a severe heart attack, Sandry leaves Discipline Cottage to live with and care for him.
While out riding with her uncle, Sandry makes two discoveries: the murder of Jamar Rokat, a myrrh trader, part of the war between organized crime families Rokat and Dihanur, and a boy named Pasco Acalon, whose dancing is visible to Sandry's magical vision as imbued with ambient magic.
Sandry, a newly accredited mage, discovers that one of the responsibilities implicit in her mage's medalion is a duty towards any newly discovered mage who has no teacher. When she finds that ambient dancing magic is so rare as to be unheard of, she is forced to teach Pasco to control his magic himself, while Lark puts her in contact with Yazmín Hebet, a non-mage dancer and an old friend of hers who takes Pasco as her student. Between the two of them they must teach Pasco how to dance spells and convince his strict family of harriers, Summersea's local police, that such a seemingly-frivolous education is necessary.
When the perpetrators of the Rokat murders are discovered to be using Unmagic, the rare and deadly counter-magic that swallows energy and kills those who use it, Sandry and Pasco find out that they are the ones best suited to capturing the murderers. Sandry spins a net of unmagic, gathered at the scenes of the various murders, to capture the murderers, but her student Pasco is caught in the net, due to lingering to watch the capture- despite being told to leave the house. Sandry was forced to kill the murderers to save Pasco. With the murderers dead, Sandry realizes that she has outgrown living in winding circle and decides that she should stay with her uncle.
Sandrilene fa Toren, a fourteen-year-old thread mage and a very brave girl with a strong will.
Duke Vedris IV, Sandry's great-uncle and ruler of Emelan.
Dedicate Lark, Sandry's former teacher, a thread mage.
Yazmín Hebet, a retired dancer who owns a dancing school.