Tamora Pierce was recommended to my sister. She devoured all of Ms Pierce’s books and I, as a dutiful younger sister, quickly followed suit.
I love Pierce’s characters, especially those in The Song of the Lioness series. Every year I reread the series, and even after a decade, I love the books as much as I ever did.
I want to spend my special reading time with the characters of The Song of the Lioness quartet. I want to talk to them after reading a particularly bad book or when I’m in a reading slump. Yes, I realize they’re characters in a story, but the magic lies in the fact that they feel so real to me.
The series starts with Alanna: The First Adventure. Alanna, a plucky young ten-year-old, and her twin brother are unhappy with their lot in life. Alanna comes up with a plan: they’ll pretend that they’re twin boys.
Alanna disguises herself as a first born son and heads to the palace in the capital city to train to be a knight. Meanwhile, her brother goes undisguised to the cloisters to learn to be a mage.
Alanna: The First Adventure is a story of a girl ready to fight for what she believes in. It’s a story about growing up and deciding who you want to be.
I love Alanna’s courage and her enviable fortitude in the face of horrible situations. She lets nothing stop her, even though she has to learn how to be a knight as well as learn how to be a boy.
While book one covers Alanna’s years as a page, the sequel, In the Hand of the Goddess, covers the remaining years of her training. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man and Lioness Rampant make up the rest of the series.
The friends (and enemies) Alanna makes on her journey are amazing, sly and utterly believable as people. They have real quirks, real flaws. The dialogue reads so easily it’s like being in their company rather than reading them in words.
Reading these at age twelve was a completely different experience to reading them in my twenties now. When I was twelve, I related to what happened to Alanna. I didn’t disguise myself as a boy, but I did go through puberty and first crushes and body image issues. But, with her by my side, these issues were a little easier. I looked up to Alanna. She was who I wanted to be: fearless, kind, hard-working and she’s a redhead!
Now, as an adult, I read the series for the great relationships and friendships. I’m drawn to the way Alanna behaves around others, protecting her secret as well as standing up for her friends. I like the way that she turns down suitors in order to look after herself first, even though it hurts. And of course I also like the love story.
I still look up to her, but for a whole new set of reasons.
This series is one for young girls (or boys, for that matter) entering their teens to read. And for those who read it back then, I suggest reading it again. You may be like me, and find new meaning in the story on the pages in front of you.