|Nationality|| Sotat (former)|
|Parents||Unnamed Mother (deceased)|
|Siblings||Trisana Chandler, Daja Kisubo, and Sandrilene fa Toren (adopted)|
|Rank|| Street Rat (former)|
|First appeared||Sandry's Book|
|Latest appearance||Battle Magic|
Briar Moss, once known as "Roach", is a powerful ambient plant mage. He once lived on the streets of Sotat, making his living as a thief in a gang, known as the Lightnings. He was brought to the Winding Circle temple community, where he learned of his magic and how to control it. His primary teacher was Rosethorn. There Briar also found a new family in his foster sisters Daja Kisubo, Sandrilene fa Toren and Trisana Chandler. He earned his mage's credentials at thirteen, which is an extremely early age for it. Later he becomes the teacher of Evumeimei "Evvy" Dingzai.
Early life in Hajra
Briar Moss, then known under the name of Roach—the Thief-Lord had given him the title—, was born in Hajra, a port city in Sotat. His exact date of birth is unknown even to Briar himself, but it can be estimated to be in the year of 1025 K.F. He never knew his father and his mother, who according to Briar was stabbed for her cheap jewellery while walking home from work when he was about four years old. She had had golden brown skin and glossy black hair, just like her son. She had also smelled of cheap rose scent. Briar's mother had made their living by working in an inn. Briar once lost a baby tooth on a hard bread crust. As a result he got into the habit of softening his bread with oil and vinegar.
Because of the early death of his mother Roach had to fend for himself after their landlord tossed him out. He joined a gang, the Lightnings, led by the 'Thief-Lord', in Deadman's District in Hajra. From the older gang members he learned how to pick pockets to make himself useful with them. The skills he learned there also included knowledge of basic canceling spells for ordinary protection spells normally used on locks. His gang included Weevil—the gang leader—, Dancer, Alleycat, Viper, Slug, Cheater and Turtle.
While living on the streets Roach also made the acquaintance of pirates who kicked him for fun and even broke his arm to discourage him from picking their pockets. They also tossed him through the air and forget to catch him when they were drunk. These experiences left him with a strong dislike—or even hate—for pirates. During his time in Hajra Briar had also seen various sicknesses, like different poxes, among those the smallpox, and the black death. This later benefited him as Rosethorn's student and "an apprentice maker of medicines", because it gave Briar a pool of knowledge to draw from. Twice he had been caught in an angry mob when people found out that a catching disease was going around in the city. While he had hidden and only watched the first time he had tried to steal something the second time, which had earned him a broken arm because the shopkeeper was armed with a club.
Roach's thievings weren't always successful. Once he was caught when he tried to steal someones purse. Another time the shopkeeper noticed him trying to steal some scarves. Both times he was arrested over night and received a tattoo of an X on the webbing between each thumb and forefinger. Thus he was in trouble when he was caught a third time. He and his gang had tried to rob a jeweler. Whoever gets arrested in Hajra with already having two X's, is most likely to be sentenced to work in the mines, galleys or shipyard. He had already been convicted to work on the docks, when Niklaren Goldeye convinced the judge to pardon him. Instead, Roach was to be exiled from Sotat and go to Winding Circle. But for this he needed a new name. Roach chose "Briar Moss" as his new name. Briar for the roses, which had left scars on his left palm; and Moss because he simply liked it.
Life at Winding Circle
- "I don't know what's to become of you. You may grow to be a true earth-mage. Maybe you'll join a temple; you might be the most sought-after gardener north of the Pebbled Sea. That's up to you. One thing is certain—hunger is a thing of the past. You may skip a meal or two, but you'll never starve."
- —Rosethorn to Briar in his first weeks at Discipline cottage[src]
Briar, having lived on the street for all of his live up to then, had some difficulties with adjusting to the live in the temple. Not only did he keep knives, what had him expelled from the dormitories, but he also refuses to sleep on a bed as this is too high up and he is afraid of falling down when rats gnaw at it. Moreover he doesn't like bathing, thinking it is unhealthy, and must—in the beginning—be compelled to follow the custom at Discipline, which means bathing once a day. He doesn't like wearing shoes at the beginning, either. Another bad habit of his is thinking he might not get another meal soon, thus he wolfes his food down and still keeps food stored under his pillow as of Mead Moon of 1035 KF. Even though he overcomes most of his old habits while living at the cottage, he keeps some of his vocabulary learned in the streets of Hajra for quite a few years if not his whole life.
He actually reverted to stealing when he saw an ill shakkan in the greenhouse of Dedicate Crane, but this was the last known instance where he actually stole something. Rosethorn convinced Crane to let Briar keep the shakkan. She gave him a tomato plant—which he had been trying to grow for himself without success that far—in exchange for the stolen miniature tree. On Briar's second day at Discipline Rosethorn became his teacher, instructing him not only in the use of his plant magic but also in how to care for plants in general. As Rosethorn's student Briar also helped her do up medecines and visit the sick. One of his less-liked tasks as Rosethorn's student was "the dog work" of treating oil used as fuel for lamps with herbs so it would have the right scent.
Briar worships Lakik the Trickster and Urda, although he also takes on the custom of drawing the gods-circle to ward off evil in his time at Discipline. Even after he moved into Discipline and had his first knives taken from Niko he continued to habit of keeping one knife always with him, just in case. He also kept a set of lockpicks under a loose board in his floor.
The relationship to the three girls he has to live with didn't start off easy. After some initial difficulties, however, they formed a strong bond of friendship up to the point where they considered each other of being family. The pivot in their relationship came about two months after they first moved into Discipline, when the four children were trapped in a cave in an earthquake and Sandry had to weave their magics together. This ensured their survival, making them all stronger, and also formed a close bond between them. After this they could even talk in their minds to each other. But as the power of the four leaked uncontrolled into each other, Sandry mapped their powers to keep them from leaking into each other some months later, when they were in Gold Ridge Valley in northern Emelan in autumn of 1035 HE. After this their magics were separate again, but they still had some of their abilities they had when they were linked. For example they maintained the power to speak to each other in their minds and Briar still retained touches of weather, smith, and weaving magics as a result of the connection.
When Tris' cousin Aymery Glassfire stayed at Discipline during a pirate attack Briar, although he liked the man, mistrusted him. Thus he broke into the room where Aymery was staying one night, showing he still had the skills from Deadman's District.
In spring the following year, nearly a year after his arrival at Winding Circle, a new plague stroke in Summersea. It was Briar who found the first victim of the plague which would later be called the blue pox. This first victim was Briar's friend Flick, a girl living on the streets and in the sewers of the city. Because they had been in contact with the contagious girl Briar and Rosethorn were also quarantined. There he learned the basics of how magical healing worked from Henna, who also explained to him about seizures. Although Briar tried to heal magically he found out that this was out of his powers and that he had to be content with what he had: his gift with plants and the knowledge of how he could help the sick with concoctions. Flick died as a result of the fever caused by the blue pox. After being released from quarantine Briar and Rosethorn helped Crane in finding a cure to the plague. Rosethorn also contracted the pox and Briar almost lost her to pneumonia after she had been administered the cure, but he followed her into death and rescued her. The incident was covered up by Dedicate Moonstream.
In Street Magic, Briar and Rosethorn have become travelers for Briar to see different plants and gardening techniques. In Chammur, Briar discovers an ambient mage, Evumeimei Dingzai (Evvy), a former slave, who has stone magic. Evvy refuses to go to the nearest stone mage, (Jebilu Stoneslicer), and thus, Briar becomes her teacher. Briar teaches her meditation and about rocks and what they are used for. Evvy is contrary and stubborn, often calling Briar's plants 'stone killers' and even referring to Jebilu Stoneslicer as 'Jooba-hooba.' Evvy is kidnapped by a local gang so that they can use her to find valuable gems, but is rescued by Briar. In doing so, Briar destroys the gang's sponsor's house, and the gang's hideout. Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn leave Chammur for Leanpa.
The three end up in Gyongxe, where they experience a war. In The Will of the Empress, Briar has nightmares but refuses to talk about it with anyone but Rosethorn, though he eventually ends up telling his foster-sisters about it. By the time of his return he has turned to sleeping around, but is careful about pregnancy by using Droughtwort. 
In the book, Briar travels with his sisters to Namorn, where they are pulled into a life at court. Empress Berenene tries to convince him to stay in Namorn by offering him the post of Imperial Gardener, second in authority over her greenhouses. Briar thinks about it, but eventually rejects the proposal after he saves Sandry from a bride-napping attempt at court. He later helps to defeat Ishabal Ladyhammer at the Namorn border, and opens all of his connections with his sisters. At the end of the book, he shows them a perfect mind-replica of Discipline cottage, and tell his sisters that he created it 'for us. It's always us.'
Briar is of unknown, multiracial parentage. He is described as having curly black hair, which he wears cropped short in his first summer at Discipline cottage, and brown skin, typical to natives of Sotat, his birthland, but with a Western--thin-bladed--nose and almond shaped, light, gray-green eyes. When he first comes to Discipline cottage Briar is five feet tall. By the time he was nearly a year at Discipline Briar wore knives again on his person, although Niko had taken his knives away when Briar frist came to the temple. The tattoos Briar received when he was arrested for thieving in Hajra have been wiped away by other moving green plant tattoos that Briar put himself. In 1043 KF, he is around 5 ft 9, and incredibly handsome.
Personality and traits
- Sandry: "You need the sweetening."
- Daja: "Give him the whole pot, then."
- Sandry: "And that helps, too. You look like you need all the honey and milk you can stand."
- — Sandrilene fa Toren and Daja Kisubo refering to Briar at the first breakfast at Discipline cottage after Sandry added honey and later milk to Briar's porridge[src]
Briar was quite mischievous, often teasing his foster-sisters and playing small pranks on them. Thus he used to tugg Sandry's braids when she wasn't looking. When scared or frightened Briar hides this through making bad jokes which can sometimes even turn mean. He is just like Tris in the aspect that both have a habit of hiding behind harsh words. When it comes to his teacher Rosethorn Briar developed some caring traits. He worried when she didn't eat enough or worked too much, trying to make sure - without her noticing it - that she had enough green things around her and ate enough.
Although initially a thief, Briar developed a strong sense of right and wrong, which would serve as a weapon against criminals and seductresses. He is cantankerous, but possesses profound loyalty to his foster-sisters Daja (whom he, and nobody else, sometimes calls Daj') Kisubo, Sandreline (Sandry) fa Toren, and Trisana (Tris) Chandler and his teacher Rosethorn, as well as a cutting sense of humor. His affinity with all things botanical has made him not only a master gardener, but also somewhat of a medicine man. This love has also led to such oddities as stealing and later coming to own an ancient, magic-storing, miniature pine tree called a shakkan, tattoos of flowers that live and grow under his skin (he attempted to tattoo over his prisoner X tattoos with vegetable dyes and one of Sandry's needles), and the ability to control growth of plants. In the Will of the Empress he has become some what of a lady's man. In the same book, he was suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder.
Skills and abilities
When Briar was around ten years old, he had a number of skills. He could speak Tradertalk, although he didn't like the language, and he remarked that it was a wonder people didn't break their teeth when speaking [Tradertalk]. He was proficient in knife fighting, and learned it when he was in his gang the Lightnings and on the street. He was also very adept at picking locks, as well as other techniques useful for thievery, and he was quite a good thief. When he first came to Discipline Cottage in 1035 KF, he was unable to read and write, nor properly clean or dust a house. Trisana Chandler, his foster sister, taught him those. It became a quid pro quo, as Tris asked him to teach her fighting techniques. Briar later became quite literate, good enough that even Rosethorn asked him to label her jars. As Briar grew up on the street, he knew mostly slang and talked in dialect; his teachers and his house-mates taught him proper speech during his first months at Winding Circle, but whenever he was in a surrounding similar to Deadman's District—the slum he grew up in, or if he was in the company of "street rats", or if he was angry, he would laps into thieves cant. Rosethorn also praised his good memory and steady hands, and he later learned the quarterstaff along with Daja by Skyfire.
Briar garnered a number of skills while abroad. He became quite a good teacher to his student Evvy, even though he was unsure of his performance when first starting out. He learned war strategy in Gyongxe, among other things. In 1043 KF, when the four mages journey to Namorn, Daja noted that Briar's fighting skills have improved, and that he seemed to have picked a few things up while abroad. He also gained experience and proficiency at flirting and, it seems, sex, as he became quite a ladies' man.
Briar is a powerful plant mage, and is surpassed only by his teacher, Dedicate Rosethorn. He can communicate to plants to some extent, and can make them grow quickly or recede quickly, and how to make them grow to any formation - such as their wrapped seeds that they make grow into thorny weapons - a technique that Briar uses in both Chammur and Gyongxe. As Rosethorn is one of the finest mages in the practice of medicine, Briar learns a lot about medicinal mixes, and becomes quite proficient. Another skill of his is the ability to enchant plants and imbue them with magical energy. In the case of shakkans, Briar's care just strengthens their energy. Because of this skill, Briar has become quite wealthy through selling his shakkan trees.
He can speak mind-to-mind to his foster sisters ever since their magics were combined through Sandry's spinning in the earthquake of 1035 KF. Until autumn that year his magic sometimes leaped out of control, because of his foster sisters' magical influence. For instance he burned a field of crocuses in Gold Ridge by accident. Even when Sandry separated their magics again they maintained the ability to speak to each other by mind. This means of communications has its limits, though. It reaches only over a certain distance, thus the four couldn't hear each other while Briar, Daja and Tris were travelling with their teachers. They can also close their minds from each other, not allowing the others into their heads and refusing to speak to them by mind.
Although Briar and Rosethorn share the same form of magic they can't speak mind-to-mind as he does with his foster-sisters. However, they have discovered another way of communication over distances. By transfering themselves into their magical self and using plants nearby as a link they can talk to each other even when they're not together. It's unkown how far this means of communication reaches, but it certainly also has its limits in distance.
Dedicate Rosethorn is Briar's teacher and friend. She taught him most of the things about plants and his magic he knows now. When he first came to Discipline, Briar was afraid of the dedicate, but their relationship developed to a point where Briar described her as 'carrying his heart around in her pocket'. When Rosethorn died and Briar tried to bring her back, Rosethorn refused and Briar tried to get rid of the magic anchoring him to the world of the living and stay in the land of the dead with her.
Briar and the First Air Temple Dedicate had a bad start. They first met when Briar saw a sick shakkan in Crane's greenhouse. In order to help the tree Briar stole it, thus setting off Crane's alarm spells. The dedicate followed Briar to Discipline cottage and could only be calmed down by Lark's intervention. Both Crane and Briar harbored mutual dislike for each other ever since. Briar considered the dedicate to be a proud "money-bag" and Crane wouldn't change his perception of Briar as a low-bred thief.
Nevertheless they had sort of a truce during the blue pox epidemic. When Crane asked Rosethorn to help him find the cure of the disease she insisted upon Briar being part of the helpers to acquaint him with the procedure. Crane allowed it grudgingly. Once he witnessed Briar working he seemed to be quite impressed by his steady hands and concentration. Briar was among the few helpers Crane didn't fire.
Briar and Evvy are first very snippy with each other. At first he is also uncomfortable with the idea of teaching a mage whose magic does not go hand in hand with his. He is annoyed when Evvy keeps turning down the idea of learning from Jebilu Stoneslicer, a real stone-mage, but soon comes to accept the idea the he will be her teacher. He also becomes extremely protective with Evvy. When the girl is kidnapped by Zenadia doa Attaneh's gang lackeys, he storms her house and destroys it to rescue his student. He is also quite kind to her, even when Evvy does not expect it. After Chammur, the two (along with Rosethorn), survive a bloody war together, solidifying their bond. He loves Evvy like a younger sister, and knows that since she has gone through the same thing as he has, she is a kindred spirit.
Briar and Tris had a rocky start at first. Since Tris is a merchant-girl through and through, she did not trust a boy who had been a thief, reformed or no. She also criticized his ability to keep house. After Sandry wove them together, they became good friends. Tris taught Briar to read and write, and Briar taught her streetfighting techniques in return. He also teased her a lot, joking that it was too easy to make her angry. When he came back from his travels, he did not trust his sisters to do anything but weep and hug him and pity him. In Namorn though, he realized that Tris would never do anything of the sort, and he told her a bit about what happened in Yanjing and Gyongxe. She did not pity him, but told him instead that he must see a mind-healer for his PTSD. Tris is the first one Briar opened up to magically. The two worked together very well, even ganging up on Sandry when she acted the noble, and then saving her when she was kidnapped by a one.
He also had a rocky start with Sandry at first, even though she would refuse to admit it. However, Sandry stuck up for him when he stole an old shakkan tree, saying that maybe the boy will do something for her in return for the future. He told her not to hold her breath. After Sandry wove them together in the earthquake, Briar, Tris, and Daja made her a rock-lamp so that she would always be able to see in the dark. He opened up to her. He also teased her, calling her all sorts of titles that she never actually held, as she was a noble. When he returned from the war in Yanjing and Gyongxe, he also refused to open his mind to Sandry, which angered her. When he decided that he would go to Namorn with her, as protection, they had a bit of a fight, although Briar was secretly glad that she still had some thorns to her. He also thought her a bit of a child for wanting to rejoin together. In Namorn, Sandry bothered him the most, as she acted very much the noble at times, and he disliked being treated like chattel. When she was kidnapped by Finlach fer Hurich, and used the thread circle to call for him, he was outraged at first, but also came to help her, calling Tris as well.
Berenene dor Ocmore
Briar is stunned by the empress to begin with. He is of value to her because he is a very accomplished green mage, and she has many gardens and greenhouses that she oversees. Briar knows that his sisters think that he would sleep with the empress if he could, but he also knows that she is not for him, and it is better to believe that she is akin to a goddess than discover that she is indeed human. She offers him a place in her court, a dukedom, and an income if he stays, saying that they could make the greatest garden ever known if he stayed on in imperial service. In the end, after an attempted kidnap on Sandry, he realizes that Namorn is not for him if the country treats women this way. When giving back his key to the greenhouse he observes that the empress is Namorn itself, and that all of her subjects are only valuable to her because they keep her running, however in the end, they all are as valuable to her as ants.
Flick was a street rat living in Summersea's slum, the Mire. Briar had befriended her in the winter of 1035/1036 KF. They had met regularly on every market day that Briar accompanied Rosethorn to Urda's House. Flick and Briar had then wandered around the city and exchanged tales from their respecitve lives on the streets, Flick's in Summersea and Briar's former experiences in Hajra. Briar had also stolen cough syrup for Flick in Wolf Moon of 1036 KF and later he had taught her to throw knives. In Sap Moon of 1036 KF Flick had caught the blue pox, making her the first known person infected with it. She, Briar and Rosethorn had then been quarantined and Briar cared for her, trying to save her even when it looked like she wasn't going to make it. He didn't succeed and was with her when she passed away.
- The Circle of Magic
- The Circle Opens
- The Will of the Empress
- Melting Stones (only mentioned)
Notes and references
- ↑ The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 25; Scholastic)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Street Magic, Cp. 6 (p. 110; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 3; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book, Cp. 4 (p. 70; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Tris's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 171; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Tris's Book, Cp. 9 (p. 154/155; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 13; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 2 (p. 29; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book, Cp 1 (p. 8-14; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book, Cp. 8 (p. 150; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Tris's Book, Cp. 7 (p. 105; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book, Cp. 8 (p. 147; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 7; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 8; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Tris's Book, Cp. 7 (p. 108; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book
- ↑ Tris's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 168; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book
- ↑ The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 21; Scholastic)
- ↑ The Will of the Empress, Cp. 1 (p. 89; Scholastic)
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 Tris's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 6; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book, Cp. 3 (p. 46; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book, Cp. 4 (p. 69; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Daja's Book, Cp. 9 (p. 162; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 2 (p. 27; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 15; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 5; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 14; Scholastic paperback)