Disguised as a boy, Alanna of Trebond becomes a squire, to none other than the prince of the realm. But Prince Jonathan is much more to Alanna; he is her ally, her best friend, and one of the few who knows that she's really a girl. Now it will take all of Alanna's awesome skill, strength, and growing magical powers to protect him from the mysterious evil sorcerer who is bent on his destruction, and hers!
Here continues the story of Alanna, a young woman bound for glory who is willing to fight against enormous odds for what she believes in.
Hey, folks! I just discovered that apparently I have given some very popular books single-star ratings--except I haven't. How do I know I haven't? Because I haven't read those books at all. So before you go getting all hacked off at me for trashing your favorites, know that I've written GoodReads to find out what's going on.
I return to my regularly scheduled profile: Though I would love to join groups, I'm going to turn them all down. I just don't have the time to take part, so please don't be offended if I don't join your group or accept an invitation. I'm not snooty--I'm just up to my eyeballs in work and appearances!
Also, don't be alarmed by the number of books I've read. When I get bored, I go through the different lists and rediscover books I've read in the past. It's a very evil way to use up time when I should be doing other things. Obviously, I've read a lot of books in 54 years!
I was born in South Connellsville, PA. My mother wanted to name me "Tamara" but the nurse who filled out my birth certificate misspelled it as "Tamora". When I was 8 my family moved to California, where we lived for 6 years on both sides of the San Francisco peninsula.
I started writing stories in 6th grade. My interest in fantasy and science fiction began when I was introduced to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien and so I started to write the kind of books that I was reading. After my parents divorced, my mother took my sisters and me back to Pennsylvania in 1969. There I went to Albert Gallatin Senior High for 2 years and Uniontown Area Senior High School for my senior year.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I wrote the book that became The Song of the Lioness fantasy quartet. I sold some articles and 2 short stories and wrote reviews for a martial arts movie magazine. At last the first book of the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.
Tim Liebe, who became my Spouse-Creature, and I lived in New York City with assorted cats and two parakeets from 1982 - 2006. In 2006 we moved to Syracuse, New York, where we live now with assorted cats, a number of squirrels, birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and woodchucks visiting our very small yard. As of 2011, I have 27 novels in print, one short story collection, one comic book arc ("White Tiger: A Hero's Compulsion") co-written with Tim, and a short story anthology co-editing credit. There's more to come, including a companion book to the Tortall `verse. So stay tuned!
My goodness, my memory is atrocious. I thought that the ending of this book was supposed to be the ending of the final book in the quartet, so now I will be continuing on with the series going in totally blind!
This was so enjoyable, I love these books so much. The nostalgia is real! I do think that they could have been fleshed out a little bit though. There is a bit of glossing over and jumping forward in time in big leaps, so things moved very fast in pace. I wish I had the chance to slow down and savour it more. Other than that, loved the action, the characters, the world.
I still enjoyed reading this series, but several more problems stood out more with this book. First off; important events kept being dropped casually into the conversation or mentioned in passing and that was that. I was very taken aback when it was said that Alanna's father died "last month", and that was about it. There were several other instances as well that this happened but I can't remember right now. Also time seems to be passing too quickly. At some point I had to struggle to keep up and remember that all these happened within long periods of time between each other.
Then the romance. I appreciate that it's not overdramatized or anything, but I also felt like it... just happened. Like, in the last book there was no mention of it at all, and then suddenly in the first chapter of this book the goddess declared that George was in love with Alanna. That was jarring. So was when people suddenly started sleeping with each other without talking much about it at all. I was... confused. Some things that have had a huge build up (such as the Ordeal) ended up being too simple. I've noticed this pattern with pretty much all the climaxes in the series; they never even last more than a few pages. I mean, I hate reading about fighting/battles myself, but this is a book that's supposed to be all about it, right?
Another gripe I have is that how Alanna seems to be a foolproof radar when it came to evil people. From the moment she saw Roger, she had already hated him inexplicably. Same with Delia, who turned out to be his pawn. I guess I really don't like it when evil people are so obviously portrayed to be evil from the start. There's no surprise, no twist, nothing. Wouldn't it have been more exciting if he seemed to be a good guy and then surprised by everyone by turning out not to be a good guy after all? Unreasonably "good instincts" in a hero is something I've always disliked.
I don't know, maybe I'm just being picky. Or maybe this was meant for people much younger than me, hence the simplicity of the plot and everything. I could understand that, I guess.
👉🏻 The love of a Prince Charming (for sure!). 👉🏻 The love of an equally handsome Prince of Thieves (for the thrills!). 👉🏻 Good looks that will explain points one and two (even if these good looks amount to red hair and purple eyes). 👉🏻 Incredible martial prowess that allows one to defeat much larger and experienced opponents. 👉🏻 Strong magic. Healing magic at that. 👉🏻 But also a loving and devoted brother who happens to be the strongest sorcerer in living memory. 👉🏻 And a dedicated servant who will take care of your fife remotely so that they do not have to be burdened with the mundane when saving the world. 👉🏻 Magic sword. A must. Really. 👉🏻 Magic cat. Also with purple eyes, for the record (honestly!). 👉🏻 And other handy magic baubles. 👉🏻 That come with being the chosen one of a Goddess. 👉🏻 Love and full support of friends. 👉🏻 As well as love and support of a nearly every single person they come across (except for the Sinister Antagonist or his Minions). 👉🏻 Intelligence bright enough to be the only person to identify and reveal the Sinister Antagonist and his machinations.
Now, tell me what can possibly be interesting about a story with such set up? The first part of Alanna’s tale was interesting precisely because in order to become the first warrior maiden in hundreds of years, Alanna had to overcome several obstacles in herself (because she was a spoiled brat) and around her. And she did that with grace and humility that won me over.
This book is written around the idea that Alanna needs to conquer her three cardinal fears to become a knight: a fear of love (see: points one and two), fear of the rite of passage that will take her to knighthood (see: points four and five), and her fear of the Sinister Antagonist (see: the rest). It would be interesting if there would be anything challenging in these. Alas, there is not. Everything that has been imperfect and this exciting about Alanna has long vanished (like the fact that she has been portrayed as not being a good empath, in this instalment her ability to feel people and situations in general is as flawless as the rest of her) and so she shines like a star regardless of the circumstances.
Additionally, the second wave feminism vibes that were previously somewhat toned, go rampant here and the causal sex as well as the sexual emancipation is doubly jarring when compared with the middle-grade innocence of the last book.
While I found this second book to have more thrills than the first book, I did feel there were things lacking here but only a little bit.
For starters I still think these books are way too short for what they are: high fantasy adventures. There’s no room for world building which is a shame because the world the author has created here has a lot of potential to be as intriguing and mysterious as Middle Earth. Here we get introduced to a goddess which we have no backstory on whatsoever and no hints on how the belief system in this world works. We also meet a purple eyed cat who is also special in the eyes of the goddess but we have no idea why. Will we find out in later books? I’m sure going to find out.
In this book the time for our MC passes very quickly with her turning from young teenager to young adult in not many pages. Once again I will say I liked all the adventure and thrills these books have to offer as well as one of my favourite female characters in fantasy. Alanna herself remained to be as strong and brave as ever even when her secret was revealed in the end. Even though I saw that coming it still was handled in a very good manner with me wondering what will become of her in the next book.
So in all this was still a good addition to a well crafted series, I just wish the books could be longer so there would be more room for world and character development as those have a lot of potential here.
I was looking at the cover of my library copy of this book before I started it, and saw that on my edition, Alanna is pictured with a black cat on her shoulder. Remembering how delightfully full of wish fulfillment the first book was, I thought to myself, "Oh, she gets a cat in this one. I bet it's a magic cat. I bet it talks." I was joking. But I was totally right. Alanna not only acquires a talking cat (who also has purple eyes, natch), a deity swoops down to personally give Alanna a magic necklace. At this point, girlfriend is getting really weighted down with magical swag. She's going to have to start carrying trunks around with her, and I love it.
The first book in the series moved quickly; In the Hand of the Goddess moves even faster, flying right through the rest of Alanna's training and ending soon after she graduates. This means that sometimes an entire year takes up only a few chapters, and the lengthy timeline means that the book can sometimes feel like just a string of separate events instead of a cohesive story. Halfway through the book, we get introduced to a neighboring country, Tusaine, and before we can even catch our breath, Alanna and her friends are being moved to the front lines because suddenly there's a war happening. I expected the war to take up a significant chunk of the story, because apparently I haven't grasped how this works yet, but instead the entire Tusaine conflict lasts about fifty pages before it's wrapped up and never really mentioned again. I had to finish the book and think back over the entire plot before I realized that the central story of this book is Alanna's continued struggle with Duke Roger, the evil sorcerer from Book One. I'm happy to report that by the end, Duke Roger . The theme of this book is magic: not only do we have Alanna versus the evil sorcerer, but there's also a lot more about her own personal magic, and, as the title suggests, how the Goddess has specific plans for our heroine. Still not sure where we're going with all of this, but I'm confident that it will be awesome.
The other important aspect of this book: in this installment, Alanna becomes sexually active, and I do not have enough space to fully explain how perfectly Tamora Pierce presents sex to her readers - the intended age group for these books, remember, is ten-to-twelve year olds. So there's this scene where Alanna decides that for fun she's going to put on a dress and walk around looking like a girl (there's a very subtle subplot in this book about Alanna learning that she can be a warrior and look like a girl, and that femininity does not equal weakness, and gaaaaahhhh I love it so much). For spoiler purposes I won't say which boy ends up putting the moves on her while she's in the dress, but for a minute it's kind of icky, because he's like, "You're fighting what has to be" and "Surely you've realized all along this had to happen" and I was thinking oh god, Tamora, please don't let our protagonist's first time happen after some boy emotionally coerces her into sex, but Alanna sticks to her guns and walks away. And THEN this crucial scene happens: Alanna is back in her room, and decides, on her own, that she's ready, and that she wants this, so she goes to his room and they have sex. It's so important that the sex is presented in exactly this way - as a choice that the girl makes because she wants it, not because anyone is pressuring her into it - and it's so subtly done that most girls in the target age group who read that scene won't even realize how important it is. And greatest of all, the sex isn't some great turning point in the story - it's just another part of growing up for Alanna, and isn't made out to be any more important than anything else that happens in the book. Little girls get so many messed up messages about sex growing up, and it's so great that Pierce's books tackle the subject so well, and this book gets an extra star because of it.
In fact (and this relates to the previous point) the only place where this series still needs to improve is the way it treats female characters who are not Alanna. So far, Mistress Cooper is the only other female of substance, and in this book, we meet the first girl who is Alanna's age. Her name is Delia, she flirts with the boys and is generally the classic ultra-femme useless girl, and Alanna hates her. This is not great, and even worse, the girl . At this point in the series Alanna is totally that girl who says that she's "not like most girls" and only hangs out with guys because girls are so bitchy, and I do not like it. My hope for the next book: Alanna gets a female friend. And more magical swag. Maybe she'll get a dragon next.
I've read several of Tamora Pierce's books, but had not read the Song of the Lioness quartet and thought it time I start. I enjoyed the first book, Alanna: The First Adventure. I liked Alan, nee Alanna, in her single-minded determinedness and her unawareness of self and the effect she had on others. I liked the supporting characters. It was light, pleasant, and fun so I was eager to read this second book. I expected Alan to grow up and have to deal with identity issues, romantic issues and other problems that come with becoming a young adult. I expected the book to be less geared to 8-12 year-olds, as the first had been, and more written with teenagers in mind. These are the expectations I had before reading the boook. I was terribly disappointed.
I found myself rolling my eyes regularly at Alanna, her situations and the resolutions to all her problems. While many of the supporting characters remain interesting, they're not enough to carry the story. I am hoping this book was just a flimsy bridge to get to Alanna's adult life as a knight and I hope her further adventures prove to be more interesting and I hope she grows as a character, otherwise this is going to become a tedious series.
I´m having a little hard time progressing with this book. In the first place, I chose this book because I was looking for a bad-ass female character and because of the good reviews. However, I´m having troubles liking Alanna. And the story itself. Why? Because in one chapter she is 13-year-old, in the next one, 15-year-old and so on. She starts being Jonathan´s lover when I´m still picturing her as a child, for God´s sake!
Another thing why don´t like her is because she keeps contradicting herself. First, she says she never is going to love someone, bla, bla. Then, she becomes lover of Jonathan... and where does her pride go? And of course, I disagree with her choice. Jonathan over George?? WTF?
EDIT: Well, I finally managed to finish the book. It was MEH. One of the things I don't understand is why everybody likes Alanna so much in the book? When she finally reveals she is a girl to all her friends (friends who were deceived for YEARS) they were like 'ok, we forgive you'. Just like that? No one was surprise, or angry or NOTHING! If this was a book for children it would be ok, but this is a YA book. The same with the rushness of the story, it happens all too fast.
So, the first book was good and entertaining, the second... not so much. I have to think if I'm going to read the rest of the saga...
As a follow up to the first book in the series, I don't believe that this one is as strong; however, Pierce still does continue to tell a pretty engaging story with relatable and fun characters.
In the Hand of the Goddess picks up not too long after the events of the first book in the series. Alanna comes into contact with a goddess and it is through this goddess that she learns of her personal fears. There is still conflict between the Prince and Uncle Roger which is displayed in greater detail. Alanna has to balance protecting the Prince, finally becoming a knight as well as navigating her first experiences with romance. Like the first book, this one was fast paced; however, I didn't enjoy the pace as much. It felt like it went to fast. About three years of Alanna's live is covered in this book and it's only 250 pages. There were certain parts of this book that I wish readers would have gotten a little more detail especially in terms of world building. It left me feeling like I was missing some things about the world and about Alanna's journey towards becoming a knight.
Pierce continues to do a great job with character development. There are realistic and age appropriate situations that Alanna continues to encounter that are relatable for a lot of readers. There is somewhat of a love triangle, but it was handled in a way that I enjoyed and not in a way that I would usually find obnoxious in books targeted towards a middle grade or YA audience. I continue to enjoy Alanna as a character. She has these amazing moments especially during the stand off with Uncle Roger who, by the way, is one of the creepiest antagonist that I've ever come across. Even the challenges that she had to face to become a knight were super intriguing. While I didn't enjoy the pacing of the book, I was still excited to engage with the story as a whole and once I finished I was ready to pick up the third book.
Okay, I've re-read this many times, but never with as large a gap [3+ years] and as much a focus on critical thinking as now. That being said, although the Immortals Quartet stands as my favourite Tortall series and I relate to Diane more overall... this book has always been my favourite. And, looking at it critically, I stand by that judgment. It does have its faults [not all author-related], but its strengths make up for those. I do have a couple of disclaimers for people who are reading it in their post-teen years: this book is decidedly in a market of its time. The entire series' length was cut in half, at least, due to publishers not believing that a fantasy novel, especially with a female protagonist, would sell well in the years before Harry Potter [author Tamora Pierce has commented on this numerous times throughout the past 15 years]. As a result, the characters, plot, and novelization are rushed throughout the first two books [which, combined, take place over 8 years], which gives the books a juvenile feel. This is a result of publishing [oh, how I wish I could read those original versions of the first two books!] and something that's not reflected in Tammy's later novels, whether the last two books of this series or subsequent series. If you can get past the juvenile-esque writing of these first two books, you will be duly rewarded, I assure you.
I can't tap into what originally made me declare this book my favourite book of all time. I originally read these books in 1996, pre-Protector of the Small quartet and actually, pre-most-of-the-Immortals-quartet. I identified with Alanna's need to get out and prove herself against ~masculine~ warriors. I came into this series obsessed with Joan of Arc, but already familiar with the world [and slightly with Alanna's legacy] via Wild Magic. I left this series as a feminist activist, thankful that Alanna was a character who presented both masculine and feminine qualities. But, admittedly, I've evolved beyond my 13 year old definitions of feminism in the last 15 years since I originally read this book. All that being said, it's still my favourite.
The strong point of this novel is, in my opinion, Alanna's acceptance of her gender. You might disagree with that but, in my perception, that is what hit strongest. In this book, Alanna becomes more real, fighting her desire for love vs. her knowledge of the pain it causes; her feminine side vs. the masculine side that will keep her safe. She has chosen a masculine identity [until her knighting] that will keep her free and safe from harassment and yet, despite this, she explores what it means to be a female and what it will mean after she's earned her shield. She's an excellent student and squire but that doesn't mean that she knows everything, something she learns fairly quickly during her squire training.
Personally, the steps Alanna takes towards accepting her femininity mean the world to me. At this point, I don't really care about her knight training or her relationship between Jonathan or George. Alanna taught me how to accept both femininity and masculinity, and accept what they meant to me. I can't put a rating on that. What matters is that it made me think about it and come to my own conclusions. What makes a female a female? What makes up masculine characteristics? Alanna shows that you can be a bit of both, honestly.
"Roger's suite of rooms was located very conveniently for Alanna's purposes."
This entire book was damned convenient for her!!!
I thought the first book was alright and picked this up because the entirety of tumblr was shitting themselves over the feminist shit in this book. Let me tell you, there was some shit in this. And were they feminist?
Alanna doesn't want love but because the author deemed it must happen, she's aged up 6 years in only a few chapters. And the creeps trickle in....
Alanna has 2 love interests. Jon the prince who's sleeping with several women at court and the King of Thieves, George. At first I was all F Yeah Princes! but then this happened:
"It's a charm to-keep me from having children," she stammered. "Mistress Cooper gave it to me a-a long time ago." Jon chuckled. "Have you ever tried it out?" he asked."
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked gruffly. "This." Swiftly he kissed her again and again. Alanna felt giddy and was grateful that his tight hold kept her from falling. She was scared. She suddenly realized she wanted to be the one in his bed tonight."
....ok, that's cool, BUT.
Jonathan stopped kissing her, only to start unlacing her bodice. Alanna shoved him away, teffired. "No!" she gasped, grabbing her laces. "I was crazy to think-Johanathan, please!"
So he stops and throws this line:
"You're fighting what has to be, he said, "and you know it as well as I do."
But because the author just wanted the romance to happen, Alanna gives in to his pestering and sleeps with him. WTF. Such feminism. Much girl power. Wow.
Then we have George, who is much better than Jon, but also has creepy moments of his own, thus making him another creeper and another reason to be disappointed. These include forcing a kiss on her when she can't resist him and drugging her because she needs to rest.
Gee, thanks for considering Alanna's feelings on the matter.
These weren't even the tip of the iceberg!
You wondered what would happen if her secret of being a woman got out? Ha!! It's utterly ridiculous.
You wondered what the final showdown with Roger would be like? LOL even the most powerful sorcerer in the world is no match for Alanna. Who's only 16.
While I admire Pierce's desire to write a series featuring a powerful heroine for women, I can't say that the events of this book supported her views. I admire what she wanted to write, but what this book became was not that.
Reading this again was really fun! The pacing moves a little faster than I would prefer and I don't think this is quite as good as book 1, but a LOT happens in this book that is so iconic! If you want to hear an in-depth discussion, check out the live show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRj88...
I'm pretty sure "Tamora Pierce" is just the pen name of a precocious child, because this series reads like it was written by and for 12-year-old girls. Let's start with the names: Moonlight, Darkness, Lightning, and Faithful. Really? Then let's get to plot. Things don't happen naturally, they just occur because the author wants them to. All of a sudden men start falling in love with Alanna for no apparent reason. Alanna will never get distracted by love, but then someone kisses her and she hops right into bed. Anything bad that happens is resolved instantly; there is no danger and no consequences. Other bothersome things: The Duke Roger situation. Alanna goes into his chambers to gather evidence, and then says she can't believe she never suspected him. But she did suspect him! The entire time! From the first moment she met him! The knighthood ordeal. Spiders and being cold? Sounds super hard. The stuff of legends, truly. Racism. All the characters are white except for a mystical, magical Asian monk who is described as "yellow." In the audiobook he even speaks with an accent. Way to stereotype. I started this series because I loved the premise, but I can't take any more. I wouldn't even recommend it to young readers who might not be as easily irritated as I am, because Alanna's romantic relationships are unhealthy, bordering on abuse. George (how old is he anyway? 40?) kisses her when her hands are too full to stop him. I expected her to put a knife to his throat, but she's totally fine with it. I don't think we should be teaching girls that men forcing affection is romantic in any way. Jonathan is super jealous and demanding and makes her do stuff she doesn't want to do. Once again, I expect her to put him in his place, but she does whatever he tells her and doesn't confront him for being a crappy boyfriend. I only finished this book because it was short and I wanted to be able to write a well-informed bad review. Don't bother with this series.
1) Alanna has sex and it's treated like, well, normal! She's not slut-shamed! She's just happy! Dude!
2) George is in love with Alanna and... tells her, says he won't bring it up again, and goes right back to being her friend! Because he loves her, and likes being around her, and wants to be around her and doesn't just value her as a romantic partner! Dude!
3) Roger's a nuanced and clever villain! Dude!
4) Alanna's interest in girly, pretty things in no way diminishes her badassitude! Dude!
5) BASICALLY I LOVE THIS BOOK FOREVER.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I lost my bus stop because I was so much into the last battle that I didn't realize I was way beyond my stop. And when I realized, I felt it was worthy because I had gone through the whole scene. I really liked this book about a woman in disguise trying to become a knight in a kingdom full of magic and threatens and all kind of great dangers.
This book has everything that annoys me about YA novels. Love triangles, wishy washy snowflake MCs who declare they will never fall in love and 2 pages later does exactly that, and her guy friend drugs her for Pete's sake. Yada yada.
After a strong start to this series, this book is a slight step back. We continue to follow Alan/Alana as she gets ready to take the tests for her knighthood, and we continue with uncovering the plot kill the king and prince. Plus, Alana gets a talking cat courtesy of the goddess.
You know, on top of the violet eyes, the sword she King Arthur'd out of the cellar, and the amulet, her healing abilities and now her magical cat, I'm starting to suspect that Alana just might be Special. At least she's not entirely a Mary Sue. A couple of characters hate her (the evil ones, of course) and she doesn't do everything perfect the first time, but it's a near thing. Oh, and of course, she's got two different guys interested in her, because of course she does. And of course, both men are gross about it in their own special ways. *rolls eyes*
While still competently written, this suffers a little from lack of plot. It felt more like several subplots strung together between the bindings of a book. It was interesting to see Alana learning how to be a girl again after all these years spent being a boy, and I did love the cat. How could I not? But this felt more like filler, and I think it resolved the assassination plot much too neatly and tidily.
I think this might be my least favorite Alanna, at least on this read. I got bored with the battle and for all the revelations at the end to happen!
I like past me's comments about the love triangle. I've read more bad ones recently, and still like this one.
So, of course I've read this many times before and I was enjoying the book, but going a bit slowly and then I reached about the halfway point and read it straight though! I think I always have a bit of a harder time with younger protagonists, so I like the books better when Alanna gets a little older.
I really enjoyed Alanna's deepening relationships with both George and Jon. I've been complaining recently about love triangles in current popular YA and maybe the biggest reason I started this re-read is because I think it's done so well here. Neither boy pushes Alanna into anything. Alanna doesn't just say she has bigger priorities than love, she actually follows through on it. And she loves, but she's still unsure about what it all means. That's just so real to me.
Where do I start? These books came with such high reviews, and I was really excited to start reading it. But then I started reading it. First off, Alanna is a Mary Sue. Anything that happens ends perfectly, with no consequences to the characters. She's stereotypical and isn't consistent at all. Meanwhile, the years progress between pages, and months can pass by between paragraphs leaving the reader totally lost and annoyed. Things that are supposedly major plot-points have no build-up and end within a few pages, with no reflection. I secretly believe that this book was written by a 12-year old girl as names like 'Moonlight', and 'Faithful' litter the pages. The author never addresses any real struggles that a girl acting as a boy would face, does nobody really notice that her voice hasn't changed, or that she has no facial hair? Really?
There's so much more I could say about this book and how disappointed I am with it. It was painful to finish. I think my brain is bleeding.
Even though I didn't exactly fall in love with the first novel of this series, I just couldn't help myself from wanting to find out what would happen with Alanna. Would her secret be revealed? Would she fall in love? Would she finally face her arch nemesis, Roger?
Well, you'll just have to read book 2 to find out, won't you?
Unfortunately, I found book 2 to be plagued with many of the same issues that bothered me about book 1. For starters, it felt like many of the details or key scenes were glossed over or simply mentioned in passing instead of actually being played out in the story. The timeline skips ahead by leaps and bounds, and not always in a very clear manner. All in all, it just felt like there was a much greater, longer story to be told, but that it had been cut down to the bare minimum or had never been developed at all so as to be shorter in length. For example, I found myself incredibly frustrated by the so called "romantic" developments within the novel, as this was pretty much glossed over and reduced to a mere handful of sentences. I just would have liked to see more -- more romance, more explanation, more magic, more story development and detail in general.
Although I'm glad to have continued this series in order to find out some of Alanna's fate, I'm not sure that I will be reading any further. With the advent of so many "young adult" books written for an adult audience as well, I realize that I may have had different expectations for this book than what it deserved. Ultimately, I think that this series does have its merits, but at the end of the day, I believe it is much better suited for enjoyment by its intended audience: older children and young adults.
Bottom Line: Probably would be enjoyed most by young girls. At least, I'm pretty sure I would have liked it a lot more when I was 12 or so.
There have definitely been times where I’ve come to love a series as I read the sequels, but usually what happens is that I rate the first book 3 stars (sometimes 2 stars!) and the ratings then go up from there. So, the fact that I rated the second book in the Song of the Lioness quartet worse than the first one isn’t a great sign! I *think* I still want to continue the readalong because I’m definitely curious about Pierce’s later series and I don’t want to read those without having read the Alanna books. Or at least spoilery summaries of them, I suppose... 🤔
Although I do like Alanna (and really liked the addition of Faithful! 😻) there were a few things in this story that didn’t work well for me.
First, I like the *sound* of Alanna’s friendship group, but they didn’t seem to get much page time, so I didn’t feel like I got to *know* them. They were just kind of... there in the background.
Second, I struggled with the amount of time covered. For such a short book (<300 pages!), quite a few years pass, and it’s a little disorienting at points because not a lot of time is given to this; the story just jumps ahead.
Third, although the story was easy to read and there were a few scenes that made me smile, I didn’t get any sense of urgency from the war or the various fight scenes. The target audience of this series isn’t adult, so I guess this factor makes sense, but overall the story felt a bit... directionless. 🤔 I just wasn’t sure what the point of everything was!
On a final note, one thing that bothered me was the description of a man as ‘yellow’. I initially thought I’d misread that as the colour of his clothes and went back to check, but nope... it seems to be a description of his skin colour. I assume Pierce’s writing is a lot better in her more recent work though. This series is quite old, after all!
It took me too long to finally return to the Song of the Lioness series, which opened with the excellent Alanna: The First Adventure. But I'm glad I did, and now that I've refreshed my memory with how fun and easy to read these middle-school-to-YA fantasy novels are, I'll probably just power through and finish them.
In the first book, we're introduced to Alanna, who disguises herself as a boy to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight. She makes great friends, fights baddies, and manages to keep her secret for the most part. As you might expect, the second book is more of the same, only somewhat more episodic as the action stretches over several years. As with many stories relying on a semi-magical world, the deuses ex machina proliferate to ensure our heroine is never in any danger she can't scrape her way out of.
It's pretty easy to pick this story apart, but that would be pretty curmudgeonly; this is a fun series, and certainly more worth reading than, say, Marion Zimmer Bradley's similarly feminist-inflected fantasy for adults, which is weighed down with its own sense of self-importance and our knowledge of the author's horribleness.
I'd recommend this pretty highly for readers age 10+.
Speeding through years of Alanna's squirehood, her Ordeal, and a final showdown with Duke Roger the Evil Sorcerer, In the Hand of the Goddess wraps up Alanna's quest to become a knight with more of a whimper than a bang. We leave our faithful Lady Knight preparing to depart for the south on adventures of her own (which I am PUMPED FOR).
1. Alanna's secret is pretty much not hers to share, huh? She doesn't get to reveal it to the king and queen and the rest of the court on her terms; she didn't get to tell Jonathan on her terms: all together, her agency is kind of run roughshod over which is distasteful to me.
2. On that note: can someone please tell me why Gary is the one who she tells her secret to (mostly, it seems, because Jonathan picks him for her?)? This right here is exactly what I meant about Alanna's selfishness: is there any difference between Gary and Raoul (at this stage of the story? Yes, there is further development in later books, but here, now, facing her Ordeal: why does she pick Gary? What sets him apart from the rest of the hoard?)?
3. lskdjfldjk JONATHAN. I wished I liked this story arc more: what I wouldn't give for a heroine to have a romance that doesn't end in HEA but remains a healthy, loving relationship instead of a "learning opportunity" for her future hero (UGH). Except I DIDN'T LIKE THIS RELATIONSHIP AT ALL.
Part of it is the fact that it develops when Alanna is still serving as Jonathan's squire? And Alanna makes several comments about how her life is his—not because she loves him in a romantic sense, but because she is his liege. And her examination of why she wants to be his lover is rooted in jealousy and half-dismissed out of her own fear (which she does acknowledge!)—but it doesn't ever crack a surface-level. It's extraordinarily shallow, and easy and instead of feeling like she's choosing to be with Jonathan in a romantic sense, it rather feels like he's available (connecting rooms!), he's down with it (he's flirting with all the ladies), and she's curious (although she tries very hard to stop that train of thought).
This ties into the above: that the Alanna series does not do its relationships justice. They are simple, easy things: if Alanna likes a person, they are good. If Alanna does not like a person, they are evil. Taking a lover is an easy decision (once the decision has been made). There are no complexities to the people Alanna interacts with: they are either for her, or against her, or tools for her to learn her lesson (i.e., the lesson to "love" as given to her by the Goddess). I found myself flinching away from Alanna far more than I recall, wanting there to be a deeper examination of her life, her world, her actions, her peers, her masters.
4. In the vein of THAT RELATIONSHIP, up until she makes the decision to open her door for him, all the physical manifestations of attraction are done to Alanna: she is kissed several times without her permission. She is hugged. She is touched. She does not instigate any of it, which makes her decision to take Jon as her lover seem all the more like it came out of nowhere??? (George is guilty of the kissing, too! HOW COULD YOU GEORGE.)
ALSO, when Alanna is describing Jonathan's tantrums (which, I believe, are supposed to read as the angsty fits of a love-lorn suitor???), they read as dangerous and manipulative. She has to flirt with ladies and can't talk to boys and has to look a certain way and has to dance with the people Jonathan says she has to dance with and and and!! THIS IS NOT COOL BEHAVIOR.
I remain squicked out by the relationship.
5. AHAHA STUPID ROGER.
6. OH THOM.
SORRY I HAD A THOUGHT: I think I recall from an interview with Pierce several years ago that the Alanna Quartet was originally meant to be one novel but publishers at the time did not believe that a larger book would sell and so she was asked to break her original manuscript into pieces. From my current vantage point mid-arc, I'm curious what sort of impact that tidbit has on the flow of things.
I think this is the book I forgot the most of. In fact, I remembered almost none of it, with the exception of Faithful. I remembered Faithful. It would also explain how I managed to conflate books one and two. I remembered next to nothing about book 2, except Alanna getting a cat, starting to wear women's clothing sometimes, and . The first two, I thought happened in book one, the third in book three.
This is a good book, and I like it as part of the Alanna series, but it's not as good as the first one for me. For one, I forgot how much time it covers, and how quickly that time moves. First there's the potential for a war, then all of a sudden it's a year later and they're at war, then it's another year or two and Alanna's facing her Ordeal. And then it's the end.
As for the Chamber of the Ordeal, I wish there'd been a way for Tamora Pierce to be vaguer on the details. The Chamber is scary because you don't know what's so terrible. I feel like it's hard for a concrete reality to live up to that kind of fear.
I'm also not super into how the relationship with Jonathan develops. . I continue to like how Alanna's relationship with George is treated. I fee like he understands her better.
And lastly, I wish we'd gotten to see more of some of the relationships that are so wonderfully described in the first book. I wanted more Alanna and Myles and Alanna and Gary (instead of just Alanna and her love interests). Also, a female friend wouldn't have gone amiss. I aso woul have liked to see a little more of the aftermath of . Particularly with regards to some of the stuff with Alex, and how he was affected.
For me good, not spectacular. Not the first one.
2016 Reading Challenge: A book you can read in less than a day.
It seems as if Tamora Pierce and I must part our ways. Quite simply put, I am above the age group to enjoy this. While I know many of my older friends have loved this, I seem to have lost interest in the life and struggles of a mere fifteen-year-old girl, which says everything about me and nothing about the book itself. I've only ever read The Immortals Series by Pierce when I was ten and I suspect I'd have loved this as much, if not more, if I were the same age. Alas, Alanna fails to capture my attention and although this novel is written impeccably with thoughtful musings and a solid plot line, I'd only recommend it to younger readers or readers who enjoy intelligent literature for younger YA. As I grow I seem to prefer my protagonists to be older and can't seem to wait for Alanna to grow up. Sadly, this is just a classic case of it's-me-not-you syndrome.