(This review has a minor spoiler.)
I continue to read The Circle of Magic/Circle Opens books in a very bizarre order, but I can at least tell any interested readers that it is not super duper necessary to read them in order. I would definitely say start with Sandry's Book/Magic in the Weaving because it sets everything up. But Pierce does a very good job of letting the stories stand on their own, and any mentions of things that have happened previously are explained enough that you can understand what's happening at the present. Moving on.
A plague has struck Summersea and we see the young thief-turned-mage Briar thrust into a role of responsibility. This book, like Street Magic sees Briar questioning who he is, and sees him growing and learning a lot about himself in a short period of time. I think of the four young mages Briar is one of my favorites.
Briar's relationship with his teacher, Rosethorn, really flourishes in this book. Or at least we see just how much Briar cares for his teacher. SPOILER! I mean, he freaking brings her back from death (with the help of his foster siblings, of course). I think I have a soft spot for lovable misfits and severe, emotionally reserved people. When these types of characters form meaningful relationships, it always warms my heart. Yay! They have some one to love and who loves them!
I didn't expect the cause of the plague to be what it was. But I think it sends a good message. Carelessness can lead to terrible things, even if a lack of action seems inconsequential. It's important to think about what you're doing and how it may affect people. Remember that.