After many years, I've decided to do a full re-read of Tamora Pierce's books, starting with her Emelan series.
I discovered Pierce's Alanna books first and these were written for a slightly younger audience. I did read through Circle of Magic, the first quartet, but no farther. It looks like the third quartet of the series (and possible last, I can't find any info on whether there will be more after the fourth Circle Reforged book) will be finished next year.
The Circle of Magic series is about four 11-year-olds, who are brought to the Winding Circle community for various reasons. The Winding Circle is primarily a school for normal students but is also known for magic instruction.
Sandry is a noble, and very near royalty, though she doesn't like to make her family connections known. Her parents mainly traveled around which was considered weird for nobles so she would usually play with the merchant or trader children. Her family gets caught in a plague town and Sandry is hidden away behind a magic door to stay safe. Unfortunately, the only person who knew where she was died from the plague.
Daja is part of a trading family whose ship is caught in a storm. She gets rescued, but is considered bad luck for being the only survivor and gets cast out of their society.
Briar is part of a street gang and gets caught for his third offense. His fate is to be sentenced to the mines or the docks.
Tris is part of a merchant family who has been shipped around to various schools and family members, but due to strange activities that happen when she's around, no one wants to keep her for long, and she's running out of places.
When each child seems doomed, a man named Niko shows up and offers a place at the Winding Circle, but even there the misfits don't seem to fit in with their peers. The four end up at a separate smaller dorm called Discipline, run by Rosethorn who has magic with plants and Lark who has magic with thread. The four still clash with each other, but eventually begin to trust and become friends. They also all discover that the reason Niko brought them together is that they all have some sort of magic ability that is rare.
Sandry can work threads similar to Lark, Briar has a gift with plants that Rosethorn shares, Daja has always been fasicnated with metal working and finds that she shares a magical ability with the smith Frostpine, and Tris realizes that she can control weather, though she isn't skilled with her control but Niko plans to help teach her.
This book, despite being Sandry's book, serves as an introduction to the characters and setting most of all. But it's a good start and I look forward to seeing where the series ended up going.