Hi there Bookworms! I apologize for the lateness, and inevitable brevity, of this post. June has, unfortunately, turned out to be a shockingly busy time in my life, and as such, I’m finding less and less time to write. However, don’t let the brevity of this post fool you – these books are perhaps still my favourites, and are most certainly the reason I got into reading fantasy in the first place. It definitely helps when the main character has the same name as you!
Alanna: The First Adventure
“From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.” – Alanna of Trebond (Tamora Pierce)
In a time when girls are forbidden to be warriors, Alanna of Trebond wants nothing more than to be a knight of the realm of Tortall. So she finds a way to switch places with her twin brother, Thom. Disguised as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page at the palace of King Roald. But the road to knighthood, as she discovers, is not an easy one. Alanna must master weapons, combat, and magic, as well as polite behavior, her temper, and even her own heart. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins—one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land.
This first book is, like its sequels, high fantasy to its core. Taking place in a land of knights, ladies and sorcerers, Alanna of Trebond’s daring deception in Tortall is everything a reader could want from a good fantasy novel. Notably, this book lacked a focused romance, like many YA novels, however Alanna did have plenty of moments where her heart strayed from its path, towards both Prince Jonathan and the dashin King of Rogues, George (you can guess who I preferred right from the start).
Alanna: The First Adventure tackles a lot of interesting topics, including the journey into womanhood (shockingly, even girls in disguise get their periods!), to bullying, to friendship. Of all the books in this series, this one if definitely the most suited to younger audiences, as it is notably lacking in regards to sex and death, although, as would be expected, there is a certain level of violence among the Pages and Squires.
Overall, I loved this book from the first time I read it until the 20th time I read it. It’s got the right mix of everything, although I wouldn’t have minded a bit more romance, and Pierce has definitely left her readers waiting for more.
In the Hand of the Goddess
Alanna, disguised as a boy, becomes a squire to none other than the heir to the throne. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna’s liege lord, he is also her best friend—and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a vicious sorcerer threatens the prince’s life, it will take all of Alanna’s skill, strength, and magical power to protect him, even at the risk of surrendering her dreams…
In this sequel, readers get exactly what they were waiting for as Alanna of Trebond, still disguised as Alan of Trebond, continues her quest to become the first female knight in centuries. While the pages are still riddled with daring feats of bravery and swordmanship, Pierce has answered her readers call for more romance as Alanna explores her feelings for both Prince Jonathan and George. While she was still a child in Alanna: The First Adventure, it is clear that she has now become a woman, and has embraced both her femininity and her role as a knight (note: from here on in, there is a whole lot more sexual action going on, and while Pierce doesn’t delve into specifics, sex is heavily implied).
There’s also more danger, more action, and more magic, as the threats to the throne, and Alanna’s secret, begin to come together. Everything comes to a momentous conclusion as Alanna strives for her knighthood, and the safety of those she loves.
Overall, In the Hand of the Goddess was once again a phenomenal read. my only complaint with this book was the predictability of it all, but despite the lack of shock value, the sheer prowess of Pierce’s writing skills and the story drew me in and made me love this book just as much as the first.
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortall. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death—either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mysterious fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe’s first female shaman—despite the desert dwellers’ grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes—for their sake and for the sake of all Tortall.
At the conclusion of the last book, Alanna unveiled Prince Jonathan’s uncle, Roger, as a traitor to the throne, taking his life in a desperate duel to the death. Despite the uneasy acceptance she has earned at court, along with her knighthood, Alanna flees her friends and home in search of adventure – and escape – as she struggles to come to grips with not only Roger’s death, but her own feelings for Jonathan and Roger, and what it means to be the first female Knight in centuries.
In the desert, she finds a new way of life, and new dangers, but also an opportunity to prove herself and come to terms with her wayward heart. But the Goddess is far from done playing games with her, and Alanna must face far more than a broken heart to save Tortall.
In the grand scheme of things, this book has always felt like a bit of a filler book to me. It did a lot to develop Alanna’s character, but other than that, it didn’t progress the plot very much, and nothing of great importance happened. I mean, I still love it, but just in a different way, I suppose.
Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. She has triumphed in countless bloody battles, and her adventures are already legendary. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs…but Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when she is challenged with the impossible. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good—but only in the right hands. And she must work fast. Tortall is in terrible danger from all directions, with enemies great and small plotting to destroy everyone and everything Alanna loves.
Before I begin, let me just say that this is my favourite book in the series. I love each of these books in their own way, but for me, Lioness Rampant was everything I had ever wanted from the Song of the Lioness, and more. There’s action, romance, mystery and all out mayhem. And Alanna ended up with my favourite guy, so that helps too.
Alnna has finally finished moping about in the desert, avoiding her responsibilities and her one-time lover, Prince Jonathan, and has decided to actually do something to prove herself worthy of being of knight of Tortall- retrieve the Dominion Jewel for Jonathan, who is now King of Tortall, and return to court to face those she left behind. However, trouble is brewing, and this time, Roger has no intentions of leaving empty handed.
Once again, Pierce has crafted an epic tale of magic, action and love. Pierce has truly crafted an exceptional character in Alanna, and an even more exceptional world in Tortall. Alanna’s friends, her brother Thom, Jonathan, George and even her enemies, have all been thoroughly fleshed out and developed, making this finale to the Song of the Lioness a heart-stopping, captivating read.