Now, I'm a Tamora Pierce fan, but this book just didn't grab me the way that her others do. A spin-off from the Circle of Magic Quartet, Melting Stones features Briar's student Evvy, a former slave/street rat who survived a horrible war and now hates/doesn't trust most people. While her feelings are completely understandable given her difficult past, her grouchy cynicism makes her a difficult character to, well, like. And the plot is a little plodding, with lots of Evvy's time spend in mage trances communicating with volcano spirits. Overall, this book is missing the charm of the other Circle of Magic books and not nearly as compelling as any of the Tortall books.