I've loved every one of Tamora Pierce's books that I have read but I don't necessarily read all the books in a series because I'm often serving on award or selected list committees and concentrating on what is eligible for whatever I'm reading for at that time.
Anyway, I know I've read about Briar before but I also know I've missed many of his adventures. So Battle Magic was especially delightful because it stands alone even though it features a world and characters who are not all new.
Three mages, Briar who is sixteen, his mentor Rosethorn, and Evvy who is only twelve but very strong at working her stone magic are visiting the mountainous kingdom of Gyongxe. They are invited to visit the neighboring Yanjing Empire and the emperor's legendary gardens. While appreciating the beauty and grandeur of Yanjing they are exposed to the emperor's power and cruelty. Learning of his plans to invade Gyongxe, and with Rosethorn needing to go on an important mission they plan to leave. Evvy is captured and tortured. She uses her stone magic to make it impossible for her to betray anything she knows but still, her seven cats are not safe. After an amazing and horrible escape, Evvy finds a way into a mountain of rock where she encounters beings she never imagined existed.
The magic systems used in this story are all fascinating. The protagonist find inventive ways to use the magic they possess. The plant magic used by Briar and Rosethorn is used as defensive weapons when they make bombs filled with thorn seeds that sprout and grow wildly when deployed. They can also make grass grow so fast and tall that it stops the invaders' horses.
Readers who like adventure, vividly described battles, clever characters with lots of heart, and a fully developed and unique system of magic will enjoy this. I particularly like that it has strong appeal to both male and female fantasy fans. The setting conjures up visions of China and Tibet or maybe Shangri-la but always a world one wants to explore.