Maya's Reviews > In the Hand of the Goddess

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
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's review
Nov 21, 2012

it was ok
Read in September, 2012

Maybe back when this series was first published, it was a very big step for this particular genre of "feminine fantasy", and I can definitely see how Alanna might have influenced authors such as Cashore.

Reading it now, though, Alanna's adventures feel very bland and uninspired. (For instance, the highly anticipated and dreaded Knight's Ordeal turns out to be a totally boring event.) It also feels like a children's book through and through.

Everything is very simple and straightforward, but this childishness is maybe best illustrated by the names. Alanna's sword is called "Lightning". Her horse is "Moonlight", another one is called "Darkness". Her cat is named "Faithful". The big evil wolf they hunt is "Demon Grey". Exactly what I'd imagine a child naming his toys and pets.

The writing feels very child-oriented as well. For instance, instead of showing the characters talk, with some smart dialogues etc., the reader is just told "they talked. And that talk led to event X". In general the story is very simple, pretty predictable and everything happens too conveniently. You can see the author pulling the strings behind the scenes, when Alanna happens to go someplace she usually never goes and just there she stumbles across a surprise attack.

The pacing also felt off to me. There are frequent time skips of several months, during which the plot just seems to stop. All together the first two books of this series cover 6 years, with actually very little happening story-wise.

The characters don't leave much of an impression either. I've encountered some incapable rulers in my books recently, also incapable detectives etc., but Alanna must have the most stupid villain ever. Duke Roger wants the throne, but you probably have a higher chance to encounter a real life unicorn than he has of ever becoming king. He is so stupid, he can't see through the smallest palace intrigues. He gets fooled by an innocent, weak and also pretty stupid Alanna, who already cured his super special magical virus fever at only 11 years old and defeated some amazingly strong supernatural creatures that had occupied a city for centuries - but apparently that's not enough to attract the duke's full attention.
Alanna almost literally has to throw her magical (and also stupid) cat with freaky eyes right in his face and show-off her kick-ass sword skills just in front of him, for him to finally start considering her a possible threat.

Well, since Alanna is anything but discreet about her specialness, this story probably needed a bad guy with Roger's IQ.

Apart from that I still don't find Alanna as a character very like-able. She might be a good role-model for any girl being forced into an old-fashioned lifestyle by her surroundings, but she is just too special. She is a chosen-one, with rare violet eyes, gets private audiences with gods, has tremendous magical powers, a magic sword, a special magic pet cat and is an impressive two-handed sword-fighter. She also behaves so self-importantly and doesn't come across as very bright. Well, part of that is explained and at least she doesn't stay completely innocent. As a knight she also has to actually kill when there's a battle. But add to this a pretty classic love triangle, and you get what for me was a rather boring reading experience.

All of these things together made In the Hand of the Goddess simply feel very childish to me. It's good as a children's book, but I wouldn't recommend it to adult readers, apart from those for whom it holds a nostalgia bonus.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Linda (new) - added it

Linda Oooh. It's been ages since I've read this series! I'd probably agree with you if I read it again now, but back in middle school (or was it elementary?) this was the first of its kind I read, and so of course I was very forgiving of flaws and just super happy to find a book like that. Funny how it has so many tropes I now hate, though -- super special violet eyes, chosen one, oblivious to obvious plot points. But yeah, I think the nostalgia bonus counts for a lot. :)

message 2: by Maya (last edited Nov 21, 2012 08:39PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Maya I think you read it just at the right age ^^ I certainly would have enjoyed it a lot more back then as well. And I'd still give it to any little sisters or daughters xD

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