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Song of the Lioness #4

Lioness Rampant

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From Tamora Pierce, the final book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award.

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.

384 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published November 30, 1988

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About the author

Tamora Pierce

95 books82.9k followers
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!

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Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
576 reviews780 followers
March 29, 2021
I kept deluding myself that this series is a fantasy. With the final instalment, the time has come to be brave and admit that it is nothing of this sort. “The Song of the Lioness” should be somewhere on the bottom shelf of the romance department (ideally in the flooded basement). Every single one of the four books is just an excuse for the main protagonist to get some action. And no, I don’t mean the sword fights. Or, yes I do mean the sword fights. Just not with the regular swords.

In what follows, you will not find a review. Just a simplified synopsis to give you a flavour what lies ahead.

This time Alanna of Trebond (and now of Olau as well, because nothing is less deserved than a plush heirdom) comes to a random town in her never-ending adventures of an errant knight. She has not yet realised that she is becoming a celebrity—that’s how astute Alanna is—because she is too preoccupied with doing whatever she pleases to notice that people do react to her actions.

Being a knight can land a normal person on border patrols and other mundane tasks, but fear not! Alanna did not spend half of her life cheating and the other half frolicking around with well-positioned males to end up doing whatever the rest of people is doing. Instead, she does whatever interests her. And mainly this consists of wondering whether to marry and if so then whom and why not the person she is currently sleeping with in between the random acts of lucky magic and bravery signalling. Very entrepreneurial, our Alanna.

Up to date, we were led to believe that Alanna’s future is between Jonathan the Prince (despotic but royalty has its perks that Alanna enjoyed more than once, oh yes) and George the Prince (prince of thieves, the naughty boy, how positively scintillating! a frisson Alanna appreciated several times, whyever not).

Forget that boring pair and the exhausting love triangle. This time, the Lioness meets the Dragon of Shag Shang. And so she shags him promptly. Just kidding, first, she asks some fundamental questions like “Who are you?” and “What do you do?” and then she shags him (but she is sure to faint first, because there is nothing like the first impression).

After that grand opening, we can return, albeit with reluctance, to real problems of the world. Like: Alanna does not know how to flirt. The drama. Also, she cannot use the techniques her newest champion mastered so she makes him teach her against all the odds and all the rules. Because she is Alanna and she always gets what she wants.

The trouble is, her lover also has some serious challenges for her and so he asks this fundamental question every fantasy protagonist faces at some point:

“Do you plan to marry?”

Of course, he would ask just that. Poor Alanna! In quagmire again. What is she going to do? What to do. She puts on a dress, because hey, what can a knight do when in a tight point, right? The dress is her former lover’s favourite and never failed her so far.


The Dragon is not impressed. The brute. Alanna is forced to flee throw a tantrum and be altogether unhappy for the whole evening. Oh how she hates him, she does! She has a serious existential crisis at this point, and it is an early point of the book so don't expect a brakthrough: it would be counerproductive. She wonders why she keeps a company of a shag Shang who unsettles her in so many different ways and not all of those ways with the frisson quality of a naughty boy and none of those with the royalty perks! Perhaps it was the wrong choice altogether? But is Alanna capable of making a wrong choice? That has yet to happen, so she is relieved and off she goes to explore. With the Dragon in tow.

They meet some random individuals on their way, and because some of those individuals are children Alanna is not that elated. And because other of these individuals are clearly female instead of “Hello, I am Alanna,” Alanna says “Shame your mother didn’t drown you at birth,” because that’s how chivalrous and knightly she is even in an ambush situation. Many of you would struggle to keep wits and dignity under such dire circumstances, I am sure.

Thus, the journey continues in the extended company. But, there is no Jonathan with his perks and no George with his charms, only the Dragon who has some issues (with her gift, no less!) and we cannot truly blame that changing the diapers only deepens Alanna’s existential crisis.

There is only one answer to this. Alanna needs glory as baby needs new shoes. It is not easy but needs must. Off she goes alone and single-handedly achieves what nobody else managed to do and gets another magic trinket for the reward (do not worry, this takes merely a chapter). She does not need the Dragon anymore. Oh good, because he moved the things back to his own room.

Good riddance.

Also: How lucky of her! Now is the time to appreciate Alanna’s impeccable timing. Unbeknown to her—because who would bother to keep in touch with her own King (especially that she now enjoys the Dragon) or her own kingdom (what does she own them anything?)—her land experiences a series of unfortunate events that border on disaster. Of course, we must be told what is happening out there when Alanna enjoys her story, but I am sure there is no reader present who does not allow for a little telling some random plot parts instead of accompanying Alanna in her serious pursuits.

Here it is: a terribly evil person was brought from the dead by none other than Alanna’s own brother who is supposedly the most cunning sorcerer but really didn’t know what he was doing. And anyway, what is the proof that the terrible person is still terrible and plotting a coup like before? No proof whatsoever and of course we are all innocent until proven guilty so the antagonist is free to gallivant around and plot and this couldn’t be better because Alanna has the chance to be a hero again.

Do you want to know why? Because she sees the danger when everybody else is blind to is. That’s how perceptive and intelligent our Alanna is. And so she does the heroic deeds and she uses her gifts and her nonpareil skills and averts what can be averted and smooths what can be smoothed and all is grand.

And she is on such a roll that she even manages to solve the fundamental issue. She tells all the lovers what they are supposed to do with their lives and she finally settles on one. She does! But she is not a tamed lioness, she is still rampant. And I do honestly wonder whether the sequel to this series could dethrone the Sarah J. Masses and other new adult erotica parading around as fantasy, because mark my word, the potential is there.

Also in the series:

1. Alanna: The First Adventure ★★★☆☆
2. In the Hand of the Goddess ★☆☆☆☆
3. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man ★☆☆☆☆
Profile Image for Adrianna [SypherLily].
171 reviews72 followers
February 9, 2017
After adoring the first, liking the second and hating the third, the fourth came somewhere in-between. The first half of this book was a bit of struggle for me, but honestly once the adventure for the jewel was over, the story picks up a bit.

I didn't like how Alanna's brother Thom was practically non-existent throughout the entire series, and has a small (or rather large) part in this book and. . . no, just no. The author made it seem like just because they were twins, they knew everything about each other and were each other's other half, but really they had only sent a few letters to each other throughout their lives and never even visited each other. The end of the book just didn't touch me like I suppose the author meant.

This is a story that can be stopped at the first book if you'd like to skip all the frustration, rambling and whining and just imagine the rest. For honestly, not much happens in the last three books worth mentioning.

Oh and also, this would have had only 1 star, but I liked who she wound up with, and he was the only character I've loved whole-heartedly the entire time.
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
665 reviews5,335 followers
May 8, 2021
Possibly my favourite of the Song of the Lioness series! It was really only let down by silly character motivations and I think logic was impacted by that, because some characters act so out of character to advance the plot. Some of it was too easily wrapped up too. However, some moments tore my heart out so for that, it gets a solid 4 star!
Profile Image for Madeline.
766 reviews46.9k followers
July 29, 2014
Having reached the end of the Alanna books, I'm really sad to be done with the series. Not just because Alanna is a fantastic heroine - seriously, I'm currently drafting legislation to make these books required reading for sixth grade girls everywhere - but also because this is one of those rare occasions where I feel like a book could have been longer, and should have been longer. The entire Alanna series has felt very rushed, since Book One when we sped through two years of knight training in about two hundred pages, and I wish that these books had been published at a time when children's series were allowed to contain 700-page epics.

At the very least, it feels like there should be one more book in the Alanna series. As always, Pierce is racing through her plot points as quickly as possible, but in this book it's especially obvious that there are two major plotlines that each deserved their own book: first, Alanna goes on a quest to retrieve the Dominion Jewel, a super-powerful magical item that will make Jonathan a super-powerful king and unite the kingdom somehow; and while she's doing this she also meets a fugitive princess and her scrappy teen bodyguard, and we're introduced to more of this universe's complex socio-political climate. Then, once Alanna gets the jewel, she goes back to the capital city and lives at court for a while, where we have two intersecting plotlines of George Cooper trying to hold onto his role as King of the Thieves and Prince Jonathan trying to uncover whatever plot the only-mostly-dead Duke Roger is cooking up.

That's a lot of plot to cram into 300 pages, and both storylines have to fight for space, and both suffer for it. I really, really wish this last book had been split into two books: the first one could be all about the quest for the Dominion Jewel and the people Alanna meets on said quest, and the next and final book would be about her time at court, the struggle with Duke Roger, and the conclusion to the Dominion Jewel plotline. I wish this had happened, not just because it would have meant that these stories would have been better developed and fleshed out, but also because, at the end of Alanna's series, I still have a lot of questions. The biggest one is the question of what, exactly, the Goddess has had in mind for Alanna this whole time. She gave Alanna the magic sword, the magic jewel, the magic cat...for what? So Alanna could fight Duke Roger? It feels almost like there was supposed to be something bigger, something more epic, at the end of this book, and it was scrapped to make room for a classic Boss Fight between Alanna and Roger. There just wasn't enough time: to learn what Alanna's exact connection to the Goddess was, for minor villains like Alex and Delia to be properly developed as human beings, to find out just what Faithful's deal was ...like I said above, I rarely find myself wishing that a 300-page book was twice as long, but that's how I felt about Lioness Rampant.

Frustrating length aside, this was a great conclusion to Alanna's story. We got to see her discovering more of who she is and what she wants (often this self-discovery occurs thanks to her affair with a Shang warrior named Liam Ironarm, which, damn. Four for you, Alanna of Trebond, you go Alanna of Trebond!), while also questioning whether the life of a knight is one that she actually wants. Again, I would have loved it if this particular internal struggle had been explored in more depth, but I understand that the young adult market at the time didn't really make it possible for Tamora Pierce to write five-hundred page volumes for her series.

It's too bad that I didn't get to spend as much time with Alanna as I wanted to, but I enjoyed every single adventure and every page. The writing never really elevated itself to the level I wanted, but ultimately it didn't even matter because Alanna is such a great heroine, her adventures were fantastic, and these books are so important for little girls. Books about girls with swords will always be my personal crack, but this series is the gold standard.
Profile Image for Nadia.
243 reviews11 followers
July 9, 2012
I'm just posting this to say that I was thoroughly impressed by Tamora Pierce's fight scenes. Like it's obvious that she thought about how Alanna could win fights against people who are physically stronger without any magic short cuts. Most of the time when I read action scenes in books I have no idea what the fuck happened or the author takes a cop out and writes something like "and then everything happened at once" and then skips to the aftermath but in these I always had a vivid mental pic of everything that went down and it was rad. The last few action sequences were especially amazing and I wasn't expecting that.

I kind of wish that the last two books of this series had been cut down into one, because I feel like there was a lot of filler that I could've done without.
Profile Image for ambyr.
857 reviews78 followers
April 29, 2012
In a lot of ways, this is my favorite of the Alanna books. I love seeing Alanna come into her own; I love seeing her gain confidence, throwing herself in the face of impossible odds, and accepting herself as both a woman and a knight. I love, love what this series does with relationships, that Alanna's allowed to date multiple men, that it's okay that some of the relationships don't have long-term potential, and that it hurts when they fall apart anyway. That the relationships are ultimately about her, not about the men; that it's not about choosing which man she likes best, but which man's goals and lifestyle match those she's already chosen for herself. I wish more modern YA authors would take a page out of Pierce's book, here, because it's one of the only portrayals of a love triangle (quadrangle?) I can stand.

I like all the new secondary characters we meet, too, and Pierce does a great job characterizing them with very little screen time. I want to give it four stars. But I don't think the plot and pacing quite justify them. There's a real choppiness between the first and second half the book, and while

Still, a satisfying end to the series. And the final scenes make me tear up every time.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,898 reviews3,122 followers
May 22, 2021
A great wrap up to the series! I have always enjoyed the twists in this book and how all the character arcs wrap up. I had forgotten about her affair with a significant older man in this book. Alanna is 20 when they meet and he's 34, which some people may not be a fan of. I thought it was handled okay and I like how sex positive this book is, especially given when it was published.

One interesting thing I learned from the Afterword is that the war zone Alanna visits in this book was inspired by Tammie and her friends experience with the Vietnam war and was intended to show how awful the aftermath of war can be, how much it affects women and children.

This is definitely among my favorite books in the series and I had a great time revisiting it!
Profile Image for Gail Carriger.
Author 53 books14.8k followers
October 1, 2018
The final book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet is also the saddest. The love story is fantastic, for it is the romance of attraction (but not cohesion) that most of us have had at some point in our lives. To suffer the consequences of breaking up, not for lack of love but for lack of compatibility ,is a marker of emotional growth.

In this final book, Alanna is fully an adult and as such facing war means not glory but loss, betrayal, and absolution. It is through loss that Alanna finally finds peace with herself.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
389 reviews107 followers
March 29, 2008
This review will be looking at the whole series.
I have to admit I amazed that some how in my adolesence of female oriented fantasy reading I never picked up the Alanna Quartet. The series is most definately unique in the world of fantasy directed to girls;the sex is frank, the main character has the unique attributes of red hair and violet eyes but is at one point described as short and stocky, she works to callous her hands, and has chosen the road that will most definatly at the end of her life leave her with a great deal of physical scars. And this still seems utterly refreshing twenty years later. Although, there can be clunky bits through out this series, I must applaud Tamora Pierce for giving young women and girls a heroine that in the end holds her own. I admit at times I was yelling at Alanna's insecurities for the simple fact that this character was such a strong warrior, but in the end Alanna is not a perfect character and maybe that is why the character is better for that.
Profile Image for Julie.
10 reviews
August 1, 2017
I should have stopped reading this series after the first book. And I'd like to dock half a star on this for the needless murder of a cat.


Maybe high fantasy isn't really my thing. Maybe I needed this magic system more fully explained than it was. Maybe I needed something more in-depth than a middle-grade series could provide. I'm not sure where this series went wrong.

(And speaking of middle grade, Alanna sure gets laid a lot for a middle-grade series. I'm just throwing that out there. And don't try to tell me that this book isn't middle grade, because it's not written above maybe a fifth grade level.)

I just couldn't get behind this. SPOILERS There was just no doubt that things would happen the way they did. Of course Alanna would be able to pass as a boy with no problems. Of course she'd become Jon's squire. Of course she'll pass her trial and become a knight. Of course they'll defeat the whatever it was in the first book. OF COURSE Jon isn't offended that she's been masquerading as a boy and basically abusing his trust. Of course Roger is evil, of course he isn't dead, of course he still has magic. Nothing is a surprise or suspenseful and everything turns out exactly the way you assume it will.

It's just boring. I think if it weren't middle grade, there could have been a lot more to it, a lot more development, that would have made it a much better series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Susan.
Author 20 books8,504 followers
May 10, 2011
Tamora Pierce was the DEFINING author of my childhood. I loved fantasy, and she introduced me to fantasy with heroines who take charge of their own lives. I learned more from her about feminine strength than almost any other author (save, perhaps, Anne McCaffrey). This series is a must-read for growing girls and grown women everywhere!
Profile Image for Lexie.
65 reviews2 followers
July 20, 2017
Yep, I just re-read all of these books for the first time since I was 12. Damn you, Kindle!

I enjoyed them the second time around-- not as much as I did when I was 12 and feisty and just beginning to understand that being a teenager meant wanting to fight EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. Alanna was a pretty great outlet for that.

Things I liked that I missed the first time around:
-Sex positivism. For real!
-Awesome and strong female characters consistently passing the Bechdel Test.
-Awesome male characters.
-Descriptions of getting stronger and developing callouses. I work out more than I did back then, and I love the feelings Pierce describes.

Things I didn't like as much the second time around:
-The writing was a bit less engaging than I remember, but it's still awesome. There are a few too many "the amethyst-eyed girl looked at the blue-eyed boy" things, and several abrupt perspective changes.
-Everybody just seems to be okay with a talking cat. I mean, okay.
-Duke Roger wasn't as engaging a villain as I remembered him to be.

Things I still liked:
-Aw George.
-Aw Faithful.
-I will always love that Alanna's such a badass.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,134 reviews109 followers
January 29, 2016
Here's my favorite thing about Lioness Rampant: it's an epic story that focuses on great storytelling instead of its own legend. It's aware of its importance, and it believes in its importance - but it's not obsessed with its enormous future impact. It's content to tell a great story, and let the legend grow naturally from there.

And I think this is a great story. I love that it opens with a young Alanna - young despite her knighthood! - not knowing how to flirt with Liam. I love the way Alanna is determined to be a hero for her country's sake, and that she doesn't stumble upon greatness unexpectedly but deliberately goes after it.

And I love the nuance. I think this is the first Pierce book where I can say that. Think about the scholar who tells them about the Dominion Jewel, about how it works for those who are rulers and conquerors by nature, which is why it's often used best by a commoner. Think about the person Alanna believes to be king: how would Roald have used the Jewel? Could he have used it?

Alanna tells Liam, when he asks her if she's the best in Tortall, that she doesn't know, because she only fought knights. "There may be some commoners better than me" - Alanna, who's very conscious of her nobility! But it doesn't make her blind.

I like her relationship with Thayet. I like how perceptive Thayet is, especially about Alanna. She shows she's smart and diplomatic just by the way she explains to Alanna why she cannot take the Jewel for Sarain. She knows to give the longer explanation so Alanna knows Thayet isn't shirking her duty, and that, more than anything, is what convinces me that Thayet will be a great queen. Showing, not telling: good stuff.

More nuance, possibly the most nuance-y of all:
Alanna blushed. "Thayet, you're flattering me. It was easier for me to rebel than stay and make something of myself. Why didn't I go to convent school and prove ladies are more than ornaments that way?"
I CANNOT EXPRESS THE EXTENT OF MY JOY AT THAT LINE. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Showing, not telling, part the second: Alanna is really growing up. (Maybe she didn't only teach the Bazhir. Maybe she learned something, too.)

Then there's the finale. Alanna thinks, "He expects you to fight. So - stop fighting." I've never been quite clear on how that worked out for her but I love how it comes full circle: when Alanna first found the blade with Myles, she had to stop fighting, too.

And then there's Jonathan, grief-stricken over his parents, not understanding how you could love someone so much you would forget your duty to your people - which is something Thayet voices understanding of, even before Jonathan states it. This book does so much quiet legwork to persuade me that Jon and Thayet will make a great couple.

Stuff to ponder: the current plot that centers around Roger seems to have been started by Delia of Eldorne. Which makes me wonder how exactly Roger planned his eventual resurrection. Did he know time was ticking during book two, and if so, why? He must have, because if he'd been really dead, Thom's spell wouldn't have worked. But Delia wasn't at court then, was she? Or is this shades of Voldemort, and he was just paranoid about death all the time? And how about Thom? Wasn't he still pretending to be stupid at that point? On whose magic prowess was Roger depending?

Please note that Roger telling Jon straight out, "But they can be defeated, Jonathan. The right man can shake their thrones" tells readers Roger's plans quite neatly, but it also informs Jonathan. Is Roger stupid? DO NOT GO ANNOUNCING YOUR PLANS TO THE PERSON YOU WANT TO DETHRONE, YOU EGOMANIAC.

One last point - Alanna's a healer and she knows Thom is dying. Why does she accept that? Why doesn't she try to do anything for him?!

The Best Supporting Character award is presented to the Lord Provost, by the way. He's so much fun in this book.

I JUST LIKE THIS SO MUCH. And I love how it's referenced in future books - as a major turning point - and here it's a great story that lives up to that label.
Profile Image for Sophie.
440 reviews159 followers
April 8, 2012
Aw, I'm all verklempt now. A bittersweet ending to this series. It's plain to see why the Alanna books created so many die-hard Pierce fans.

This could have easily been broken into two books, but I'm glad it wasn't, after the weird cuts between books the series made earlier. Still, it's pretty much two stories: the first being the quest for the Dominion Jewel, and the second the plot against Jonathan's life. While the first was fun, I liked the second half better. I love Corus and things are way less interesting when George isn't around.


Off to read everything else Pierce has written, and then to re-read the Beka Cooper books! Because MOAR KITTY.
Profile Image for Ye Olde Cat Lady.
23 reviews2 followers
November 16, 2019
I've read close to 10,000 books in my lifetime and this is the only one that ever made me cry.
Profile Image for Sanaa.
406 reviews2,570 followers
August 18, 2015
[3.5 Stars] I don't think I enjoyed this one quite as much as the last. It was wonderful read, but there is something about it that I just didn't fall in love with and I can't quite put my finger on why. All in all, however, this is a fantastic series though it could use a little more depth.
Profile Image for Robert Thompson.
166 reviews35 followers
December 24, 2012
Five stars, for this, surely I must be kidding? That, or delusional.

It was worth every single second to read. I can usually tell how much time passes while I read, not here, not with this volume. I was sucked into it with glee(a pinch of foreboding too).

The first half of LR finds our Alanna and Coram continuing the plotline from the end of "The Woman Who Rides Like A Man". They are off to decipher the package Alois(the doomed sorceress) had given over. Things progress quickly from here a series of meetings, attempted assassinations and of course a meeting with our lovely, somewhat helpful and terrifyingly vociferous Goddess.

More Tortall lore gets expounded upon(which is great). More romance ensues(which is...well I guess a girl has got to have a life). More characters are introduced(also great). Then, when all that is done, about halfway through at the end of more great fighting, the "Silent War"(my own name for it) recommences.

The Silent War(the one between George and Claw) has been bloody and gets bloodier. The war splinters into the overarching plot around here and things begin to come to light. I won't spoil anything, just to say "If you thought the first half of the book was gripping, you poor soul, what will you do now."

The rest of the book tells all and spares none. The end, while not what I would call unique was not one that you could guess with even 50% accuracy(I am talking about the whole sequence here not the overall outcome).

Now that all my praise is out of the way, here is my one gripe with LR. Alanna cried a lot, I mean abundantly. I don't know if a chapter passed(with her in it) where she did not cry/shed a tear, once. I found it ridiculous.

That out of the way, I am sad that this saga is finished. One loss in particular was hard to take but I think predestined(not the one that was obviously predestined, that was obvious as daylight and quietly done). I'll revisit Tortall sometime soon and see what more she has to tell. "So mote it be."

Profile Image for Jennifer.
2,318 reviews51 followers
August 14, 2012
This isn't the most subtle series, but I do like its positive messages (even if they're not subtle), one of which is that it's possible to be true to yourself, which in Alanna's case means coming to terms with the fact that she doesn't need to fit neatly or exclusively in a "man's world" or a "woman's world."

I also find it interesting that, unlike in most fantasy novels, especially those oriented toward younger girls, Alanna not only has several lovers, but uses a magic birth control amulet! (Not so sure if conservatives would be so happy if they found out their daughters were reading this series ;p) Although simplified I was intrigued by the fact that the relationships were more realistic, or at least touched upon common relationship themes:

Boy #1: High-school sweetheart (or in this case knight-in-training sweetheart) whom you still love but whom you are not going to marry because you've grown into different people and your lifestyles aren't compatible

Boy #2: The guy you love who makes you laugh and has always accepted you for who you are. Obviously you're going to end up with this guy, but I thought it was different that Alanna ended up seeing Boy #3 for a while

Boy #3: Someone that you're attracted to and like as a person, but, for whatever reason, can't accept all of who you are but you still care about

As a girl who never got along as well with other girls as with guy buddies, I thought that it was also refreshing to read a book about successful opposite gender friendships, including some that lasted after the "romance thing" was over.
Profile Image for Brinley.
941 reviews67 followers
December 25, 2020
I feel like this book was a great way to end off the Song of The Lioness quartet! Sure, the pacing was rushed, and it wasn’t always thoroughly developed, but I don’t care. This was simple, and I’d rather a book be fast paced than drag on. And, although a ton of other reviewers complain about Alanna’s several relationships, I love that we’re given a character who doesn’t meet her fairytale prince on the first try. The love square doesn’t bog down the plot at all, it just shows Alanna’s growth as a character. I loved that she made the best decision for herself, and realized that what she wanted wasn’t to be a queen, it was to travel, to adventure. Although this definitely isn’t the highlight of fantasy, and doesn’t compare to some of the others I’ve read, it remains a favorite!
Profile Image for kris.
933 reviews179 followers
February 6, 2016
[first read: 6 January 2008]

Alanna gathers her own band of merry wo/men as she continues her adventures outside of Tortall. Her adventuring takes her through war-torn Sarain, to the Roof of the World where she reclaims the Dominion Jewel for Tortall.

I will say that I think this is the most fulfilling of the Alanna series, for me. I enjoyed reading about Alanna's adventures and growth into a warrior and a woman confident in her abilities and desires! The myths and legends of Tortall and its world are fascinating!

As many of you have stated, I was not impressed with the handling of the Thom plot-line. Would Alanna truly shrug away the resurrection of Roger? The realization that Thom was ill? The over-enunciation of her worries over Jonathan, too, felt a bit heavy-handed. (I will admit that I found a certain joy in seeing Alanna shrug off Roger's slights and Thom's meddling, as well as the explanation as to why she was able to do so. It did not break her characterization as tempestuous, merely expanded her horizons to include all she had accomplished. LOVE IT.)

I also wanted more George: I suppose his reasoning for pulling away after Alanna's return to Corus was because he believed she wanted to get back with Jonathan, but it wasn't very well captured?? Other than his initial greeting and his final proposal, he's very reserved and it made me frustrated. I like that George has power and strength, but he never utilizes that power to try and force Alanna into doing anything she doesn't want to do. Both Jonathan and Liam do, to a certain extent, try to impose their wills on her and it rankles to see it go directly unchecked.

OH AND AS AN ASIDE: Alanna, please stfu about "dying alone". You're, what, 20 at best? You've just ended things with your Shang lover that you picked up at an Inn without so much as a by-your-leave; you happily send your first lover off to be married to his new hot Princess; and you haven't had a good heart-to-heart with your middle lover in a year. YOU ARE IN NO DANGER OF DYING ALONE: YOU ARE AN ATTRACTIVE, BADASS LADY WHO HAS HAD LOTS OF LUCK FINDING PARTNERS PLEASE STOP.


I finished this book feeling content with the story and what had happened in it (I mean, from an authorial-what-is-art kind of way; not in a "I'm so glad so many people DIED" kind of way). I liked the heroic aspects, and how many references there are to the spread of stories and songs. How legends aren't created by any one person, but rather all the other people. I liked that Alanna sought her destiny instead of allowing it to find her.
Profile Image for SSBSMS.
50 reviews16 followers
June 15, 2017
Wow. What a way to end. I love reading and growing older with characters. This is one of those series where you're left with a chunk of your heart missing.
Profile Image for Paul.
692 reviews62 followers
December 11, 2019
A strong closing for this young adult fantasy series, which is quite enjoyable even if it's not in the top tier. This final chapter ties everything up neatly, with some good drama – although you kind of just have to accept that a major plot point has happened, even though it makes no sense whatsoever. The characters are strong and relatable, and Alanna is a terrific role model, Pierce mainly avoiding the traps into which too many YA writers let their female leads fall, either letting romance dominate the story or managing to reinforce gender stereotypes by insisting that she "isn't like other girls." Alanna ends up struggling to balance the requirements of her position with the call of her heart, but in a way that is true to her character and the world Pierce has created.

If anything negative can be said about the series overall (aside from the book-specific critiques one could make), it's that this series has aged a little; the YA genre has matured to the point where this series can sometimes feel a little quaint, closer to middle grade in tone and subject matter. That might explain why it's not as frequently cited among the best YA fantasy series, although it should be.

I'm really glad I discovered this one, and hope more people do. Although more and more authors are writing strong girls as the leads of fantasy series (Katherine Arden and Leigh Bardugo spring immediately to mind), there are few enough that a trip back to the 1980s to meet Alanna of Trebond is well worth your while.
1,328 reviews19 followers
January 31, 2016
4.5 stars, and it may be possible I'm just being picky.

Unlike "The Woman Who Rides Like a Man," Lioness Rampant certainly doesn't feel like the first half of a story (and while it shouldn't - it is the final book in this particular series). It really is quite well done. I really enjoyed a lot of it.

Jonathan as King and friend is so much better than Jonathan as love interest. He makes a good King, in general. I very much appreciate how focused his is on getting to know his people, and understanding them. And he wants to be just rather than just going easy on people. That is a nice distinction. I like where he and Alanna end up in this book.

Liam, le sigh. I feel like I liked Liam better on my first read-through of this. I understand Liam; I really like the lesson Alanna learns about why they were doomed from the start (both reasons). But, he's just so extreme. I have an issue with characters who are that unwilling to bend in any way, or really even acknowledge that they're wrong (which Alanna is at least better at, though like most people she doesn't like it). I'm not saying he's not noble, and courageous, etc. But I don't think I like his personality much in this one.

Gary and Raoul! Gary loves being Prime Minister and running a government! Of course he does. And I always enjoy Raoul. I also like Lord Gareth the elder's appearance in this, and Alanna's reaction to him. Also Myles! The moment where George is all, "We have to watch out when Myles is riled." I continue to adore Myles.

I had actually forgotten a lot of the plot of the second half of this book. I remembered Alanna getting the jewel. I remembered Liam. I semi-remembered Buri and Thayet. I remembered . I remembered little else. Everything really does come together all at once, doesn't it? I enjoyed everyone just living at Myles'. That was pretty great. I wish we'd gotten to see more of Buri (though I know she shows up in later books). My Lord Provost was pretty entertaining. I enjoy how proud the city is of him.

George. I liked George in this. I think the resolution felt to neat to me, the first time I read this. But (and maybe it's because I've now read the later series'),

My one sort-of-fly in the ointment? Thom. .

Oh, I remembered another small issue I had. Alex. Why so underdeveloped? Is his whole thing (like Thom) to prove that he's the best swordsman ever? If so, why ally him so completely with Roger? Sort of do not get it. He just sort of feels like he's there...

But yeah, mostly I like it. (A little nervous to reread Daine now though, just because they were always my favourites.)
Profile Image for Katie.
2,628 reviews144 followers
February 9, 2016
Re-read February 2016

Hey, my original review is pretty good. So, you know, what she said. She being me. Okay, wait.

Original Review

Profile Image for Andy.
2,354 reviews176 followers
March 9, 2018
I can't believe this series is already over!! God I loved it so much. So in this book we have the addition of the character Liam, who is a Shang warrior. I loved how tough he was and the effect he and Alanna had on each other. I think they learned a lot from each other and not just about fighting. I was really annoyed with Thom in this book and how he let his pride and arrogance get him in deep shit. I liked how this book wrapped up, but I'm sad to see Alanna's adventures end.
Profile Image for Sarah B.
813 reviews13 followers
February 9, 2022
So... This final book of the quartet was a disappointment to me, which I had not expected at all. I had enjoyed the three previous ones so I sure didn't think the story would get "off track". The previous books have been really focused on Alanna and what she was doing. But this one had changed that. It started to add viewpoints from other characters plus more of the "politics" were added to the story. And I don't like reading about politics. I find it extra boring and that certainly is in here, mainly in the second half of the book. The first half with her searching for the jem was ok. I guess I didn't like they had changed the viewpoint.

I realize that kingdoms need a ruler and that politics go into that (even if the setting is old fashioned) but I just don't enjoy reading about spies and plots to kill a ruler and all of that stuff. Unless its like in a scary thriller with tons of suspense. But there is no suspense in here. The second half of the book - which is supposed to be the most exciting - was actually putting me to sleep! And that is just awful! It got so bad I just didn't care what was going on. I just wanted it to end already so I could read something more interesting!

And I was also fed up with that stuff about Roger in this book too! It was just stupid? Sad but true from my perspective. I know he was supposed to be a big bad villain but he just didn't impress me at all? I mean did Thom really have to do that? Can I say he is an idiot?

There is nothing worse than a book that disappoints you...
Profile Image for Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~.
1,523 reviews97 followers
March 1, 2020
3.5 stars

I learned between finishing the third book and starting this one that this quartet was originally intended to be a single book, but children's publishers back in the 80s thought kids wouldn't pay attention to any book over 200 pages (until Harry Potter came along and proved them wrong). As a result, Pierce was forced to split her manuscript into a quartet, and lost a lot of stuff in the process. I'm sad that we'll never get to read that original manuscript, because the result of the publisher's tampering is an uneven and strangely paced beautiful mess.

There is a lot to enjoy and appreciate about Song of the Lioness. I wasn't too sure where some of this stuff was heading in the first couple of books, and past experience with many of these tropes made me a bit harsh on them. And I still am. But I more or less liked where this ended up. Except for some stupid things, because come on. Some of this was ridiculous. So it's a mixed bag of brilliant ahead-of-its-time storytelling and are-you-kidding-me clichés.

Alanna, the Feminist Hero, who still had to deal with an idiotic love triangle in the earlier books, but didn't pick either guy and went off to have her own adventures. But she also got to figure out what she wanted for herself, went after it and proved she could do it. She was a bit Mary Sue at times, and you could always spot the bad guys because she didn't like them and they didn't like her, even when there didn't appear to be a reason for it. And she learns not to shun all things feminine while also getting to stay a badass knight - that rarely happens even today.

Of course, the main conflict here is the weakest part.

There are still pacing issues, but since I know the reason for that now, I was little more forgiving this time around. And the whole quest to the Roof of the World - yo, it's not just a North. It's the Roof of the World. Everywhere may have a north, but not everywhere has a Roof of the World. Liam was kind of eh, and I never liked Thom. The evil villain monologuing was eye roll worthy, as was his convenient ending, and the moments that were supposed to be touching and/or heartbreaking simply weren't. I did like Thayet a lot, and I loved how Alanna's and Coram's relationship was examined here. He's been almost like a father to her all these years, and he's always been so encouraging to her.

Overall, this was a good introduction to the world of Tortall and I'm looking forward to seeing what else this world has to offer, and I'm hoping the pacing issues are ironed out in the next quartet.
Profile Image for Rana Heshmati.
503 reviews756 followers
March 17, 2017
اول داستان خواندنش را بگویم.. که من و ثنا هر دو همزمان می خواندیم و هی دعوایمان می شد و منتظر می ماندیم که دیگری کتاب را زمین بگذارد تا خودمان شروع به خواندن کنیم!
و بعد از الان که ساعت دو و نیم شب است و کتاب تمام شده است ...
ساده بگویم، که خیلی دوستش داشتم.. ولی اینکه اییینهمه اتفاق رو در چند صفحه آخر جا داده بود.. خب یکم ناراحت شدم :)) باید طولانی تر می بود...

این هم شد ریویو؟ دارم شرح حال خودم را می نویسم به جای نظرم در مورد کتاب :)))
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