I really liked this, although it was my introduction to the Circle of Magic books. There was enough context and backstory woven through that I got the gist. As ever, I really like what Tamora Pierce does with magic and culture in her fantasy novels, and with interesting, strong characters, especially the female ones. I wish she'd write more in the Tortall universe.I never read the books leading up to this- but I was able to get the characters and key events by context. Might go back and try reading the Circle of Magic, though I get the sense it's the kind of thing that works better when you're reading for the first time as a tween.And it definitely passed the Stayed Up Too Late Reading test.