Mostly, I can't let go of Tamora Pierce's books because of her characters.
First, let's talk about the series that revolves around four children in a world of elemental and academic magic: Emelan.
The Emelan series, to date, consist of the books listed here. They constantly surprise me, even after all these years. I love reading about Briar's struggles to get used to life as a young mage after being a thief on the mean city streets. I love hearing Sandry insist that people do the right thing (and I love even more the results when they don't listen). I love Tris' temper, and the way that she fears even herself. I love Daja's solidity despite her insecurities; her isolation from all she once knew and held dear.
But despite the draw of the kids, I do believe I love "his prissiness" Niklaren Goldeye even more. He's sarcastic, he's impatient at times, he forgets on a regular basis that he's talking to kids, and I would like nothing better than to see him in another book. Or two.
Frankly, I wouldn't object to an entire series revolving around Niko.
But moving past the characters, the world-building is simply delicious. So many little bits and pieces working and flowing so well together to create a familiar and yet alien landscape. Fields of dead plants suffering from a drought (further cooked by a single spark of stray lightning). The simple beauty of fishermen about to set out to sea, watching a solitary figure weave a dance for luck. The quiet moments spent with friends upon a roof, watching the clouds and remembering. Comfort from the flickering light of a crystal. The devastation of a staff with a blank metal cap. Rallying around a poor abused puppy- and the battlefield that resulted from trying to give said puppy a bath.
The words. The scenes. The emotions. The characters. The history. The challenges. The character development. All combining to create a series that I'll be reading again and again and again.
On another Monday, we'll talk about that other wonderful world Tamora Pierce has created: Tortall.