I Made Character Aesthetics for the Circle of Magic

At some point while wandering through my middle school library, I checked out and immediately fell head over heels in love with the Emelan cycle, also known as the Circle of Magic series. The worldbuilding is fantastic of course, with a setting I’d love to visit and a magic system I’d love to study firsthand, but for me these books’ greatest strength is their vivid, memorable characters, in addition to top-notch worldbuilding. 

I’ve seen a lot more buzz for the Tortall cycle (Alanna, Kel, etc.) so, in case you didn’t know, here’s what the Emelan books are about:

Beginning with Winding Circle Temple in the city of Summersea, four young people from very different walks of life come together for an education. 

The blurb above and the character descriptions below are directly quoted from the author Tamora Pierce’s website. (But the characters are not in the order Pierce presents them — I put them in the order that I tend to think of them.)

Middle school was also when I got into Tumblr and creating moodboards — which I’ve always known as “aesthetics” so I’ll refer to them as such — for books and characters. And since I’ve wanted to get back into playing around with visuals and images and such, the timing seemed right to combine these two pieces of nostalgia. 

These photos are from Unsplash, so my choices were limited, and I went off of what I remember about each character — apologies in advance if anything doesn’t seem in line with the books! (It’s harder than it might seem, to find images that match my ideas of the characters and that look good together.)

Sandrilene “Sandry” fa Toren

a nobleman’s daughter, the great-niece of Summersea’s ruler, whose unladylike preoccupation with sewing, weaving, and the manipulation of anything resembling thread is revealed to be pure magic.

Briar Moss

a boy, reared on the streets as a thief, rescued from slave labor to discover he has magic with plants and the making of medicines.


Trisana “Tris” Chandler

a merchant’s daughter who discovers a fantastic magical talent for manipulating the weather.

Daja Kisubo

the daughter of a people who live by trade alone, the sole survivor of her family’s ship, the possessor of the power to work metal in many ways.

What characters did you “grow up” with, and what color palettes and images do you associate with them? Are there any other characters you’d like to see me make aesthetics for?

25 thoughts on “I Made Character Aesthetics for the Circle of Magic

  1. omg, I love this! the aesthetics are all so pretty and really match the characters! I like the quotes you’ve picked for them

    but also my bitterness has renewed at Tris not having her university book published after I’ve been waiting half my life for it…I will never not bear a grudge, lmao.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never actually read anything by Tamora Pierce but looking at these aesthetics I have no idea why I never picked her books up? Younger DB was always reaching for the thickest book to impress everyone else I guess (what a doofus). But I might pick this up! After all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yesssss you should definitely give them a try! also fwiw some Tamora Pierce books are pretty thick – I distinctly remember this because in seventh grade I did a book report on The Will of the Empress (the second-to-last book in the Emelan cycle) so I carried it around for like a month and a half 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’be heard about Tamora Pierce for years now, Alongside Ursula as the ones who pioneer the fantasy genre later in the early 80s and 90s but I never gotten to read their stuff, which i wanna do soon :0
    Any recommendations where to start from Isabelle?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oooh yes I haven’t read Ursula (I assume you mean Le Guin?) but heard great things about her work too!

      for Tamora Pierce, my personal favorite is the Emelan cycle (subdivided into Circle of Magic + Circle Opens + Circle Reforged), so that’s Sandry’s Book, Tris’s Book, etc; but her Tortall cycle is probably better known, which starts chronologically with Beka Cooper but I believe Song of the Lioness (Alanna: The First Adventure, etc) was the first published and I think the most popular, though I have not actually fact checked that.

      tl;dr my personal favorites are the Circle of Magic quartet + The Will of the Empress (Circle Reforged), but Tamora Pierce is probably better known for her Tortall books, which I would start with Alanna: The First Adventure. but the nice part is, for the most part you can skip around between series (eg, if you don’t like Alanna’s books, you can jump to Kel’s quartet, or Daine’s) and it’ll still make sense.

      wow okay that got much longer than probably necessary, I could go on about this for a while so if you’re interested in hearing me ramble more (or in talking about more specifics) feel free to DM me on discord or twitter!

      Liked by 1 person

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