|Circle Universe character|
|Nationality|| Sotaten (former)|
|Magic||Ambient plant mage|
|Parents||Unnamed Mother (deceased)|
|Foster parents||Lark, Rosethorn, Crane, Niklaren Goldeye, Frostpine|
|Siblings||Trisana Chandler, Daja Kisubo, and Sandrilene fa Toren (adopted)|
|Rank|| Street Rat (former)|
|Residence|| 6 Cheeseman St, Summersea (current, main)|
Discipline cottage at Winding Circle (former)
Urda's House (briefly)
Deadman's District (former)
|Teacher||Rosethorn, Crane (sometimes)|
|First appeared||Sandry's Book|
|Latest appearance||Battle Magic|
Briar was born in Hajra, the capital of Sotat on an unknown date to a poor woman, who was a single mother. Briar remembers her to have golden brown skin and glossy black hair, just like him. He also remembers her smelling of cheap rose scent. To support herself and her son, she worked at an inn.. The name his mother gave him is not known, as Briar was far too young to remember it. He was about four years old when he was orphaned and his mother was stabbed in the streets for her cheap jewelry. The landlord through him out on the streets of Deadman's District. The Thief-Lord, the leader of the Lightnings, a gang in Hajra, sought him out and offered him food and shelter in exchange for thievery. Briar accepted, and he was given the name Roach.
As a member of a gang, he grew strong attachment to his fellow gang members. He learned how to pick pockets to make himself useful. He also learned basic canceling spells for ordinary protections on locks. His gang included Weevil, Dancer, Alleycat, Viper, Slug, Cheater, and Turtle. He stole quite often for the Thief-Lord, but was sometimes caught. He came across a few pirates who kicked him for fun and broke his arm to discourage him from picking their pockets. They also tossed him in the air and didn't catch him when they were drunk. These experiences left him with hatred for pirates. Having seen many clutches of illnesses in Hajra, like smallpox and the bubonic plague, it helped Briar become an apprentice in the making of medicines as it gave him a pool of knowledge to draw from. Twice he had been caught in an angry mob when people found out that a plague 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.
One time, while he was in the process of stealing from a rich house, he attracted the briars growing on the walls with his magic, they grabbed him, not because they wanted to stop him but because they were enthralled by his magic.
Other times, his thievings had been drastically unsuccessful, even having him hauled before a judge. 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 tried to rob a jeweler, but their scouts were too busy watching the action in the shop to tell them that the Watch was coming. He was already sentenced 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 in Emelan. 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.
At first he planned to run away from Niko on the road to Emelan, but realized almost immediately that the man would be difficult to get away from. He then planned to make efforts to leave to moment he reached the temple. Niko forced him to bathe and tempted him with the temple, saying that a mage had managed to grow plants inside a building made of glass. This shocked Briar.
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 wolfs 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 medicines 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.
When Tris's 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.
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.
In spring the following year, nearly a year after his arrival at Winding Circle, a new plague stuck 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.
After the four received their mages' medallions, they decided to study abroad and travel around with their teachers to learn new cultures and different magical practices. Briar and Rosethorn first went to Chammur, a large city on the easternmost edge of Sotat, Briar's place of birth. As Briar was an expert in shakkans, he had a table in Golden House, the market place for high end and expensive products.
Briar discovered an ambient stone mage named Evumeimei Dingzai, and knew that she needed instruction, although he found it difficult to follow her at first. Rosethorn told him that as the discovering mage, he would need to find her a teacher and oversee her education in the meantime. Briar taught her meditation and about rocks. Briar was shocked when Jebilu Stoneslicer openly renounced his duty to teaching the girl, and had to be bullied into a meeting courtesy of Rosethorn. While selling shakkans, Briar had a disturbing encounter with Zenadia doa Attaneh, a powerful Chammuran noblewoman, who seemed to want to buy Evvy in a sense. He turned her down flat, but she still bought a larch for her gardens. Evvy later proved to be stronger than Jebilu Stoneslicer when she broke apart a diamond with her magic.
Evvy was kidnapped by a local gang so that they could use her to find valuable gems, but was rescued by Briar. In doing so, Briar destroyed Lady Zenadia's house, and the gang's hideout. Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn left Chammur for Leanpa, and then later Yanjing.
Yanjing and Gyongxe
When Briar was around 16, they stayed in the Winter Palace, the imperial palace of Yanjing and home of Weishu, the emperor. They learned that the emperor planned to conquer Gyongxe so they escaped, along with Parahan, a war prisoner. They joined up with the resistance, including the warrior woman, Soudamini, whom Briar has a crush on.
They fought the emperor and his forces along with the God-King of Gyongxe. Briar developed a new fighting skill by wrapping seeds in a cloth bag and then having them open during a fight. They won and were able to escape, except their memories were wiped by the "gods" that helped them.
Briar's return to Emelan was a bit rocky, as he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and didn't want his foster-sisters to know. His foster-mother, Lark, immediately understood what was going on and worked her homecoming magic. Briar moved in to Daja's large house on Cheeseman Street, where he had rooms that opened onto the gardens.
By the time of his return he has turned to sleeping around, but is careful about pregnancy by using Droughtwort. Briar, Tris, and Daja were asked by Duke Vedris to accompany Sandry to Namorn, as the empress wanted her to come and look over her lands. They agreed even though they were at odds, since the felt that they owed the Duke. They traveled with Third Caravan Saralan, a Trader caravan. Because of Daja's status, they were able to actually talk and eat with the Traders. In Dancruan, Briar realized he should start practicing meditation in order to be on his guard in a new country. They were presented to the empress officially the day after they arrived, as full-fledged mages.
Berenene tried to convince him to stay in Namorn by offering him the post of Imperial Gardener, second in authority over her greenhouses. Briar thought about it, but eventually rejected the proposal after he saved Sandry from a bride-napping attempt at court. He later helped to defeat Ishabal Ladyhammer at the Namorn border, and opened all of his connections with his sisters.
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, although some of it has to do with the fact that he couldn't sleep unless there was someone with him, but he also shows his love and admiring of women throughout the novel. 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 transferring 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. She finally relented and let him return her to the world of the living
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. He was also his once and a while teacher.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The books are listed chronologically by publication date.
- The Circle of Magic
- The Circle Opens
- The Will of the Empress
- Melting Stones (only mentioned)
- Battle Magic
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Will of the Empress, Chapter 1
- ↑ Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 3; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Street Magic, Cp. 6 (p. 110; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 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)
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 7; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Briar's Book, Cp. 1 (p. 8; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Tris's Book, Cp. 7 (p. 108; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Tris's Book, Cp. 10 (p. 168; Scholastic paperback)
- ↑ Sandry's Book
- ↑ Briar's Book
- ↑ Battle Magic, final chapters
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 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)