I wasnâ€™t much of a fantasy reader when I was young. My love affair with reading started with one of the Sweet Valley Kids books. Early on, I never strayed from the Sweet Valley, Nancy Drew and Babysitters Club shelves during bookstore visits, ignoring all the other books and genres in the process. When I grew up, I was more likely to pick up â€œfluffyâ€ books than fantasy or scifi. I can answer a question about high school cliques in a heartbeat, but anything about magic or supernatural creatures or lands that only exist in the imagination, and my brain shuts down. It wasnâ€™t until last year, when I set a personal goal to read more fantasy books, that I wandered over to other shelves. However, given the great variety of fantasy titles, itâ€™s easy for a fantasy newbie like me to be overwhelmed.
Published from 1983 to 1988, The Song of the Lioness was originally written as a single book for adults, but was rejected by the publisher. Pierce cut up the manuscript and revised it into four books for teenagers. These four books feature Alanna of Trebond, and chronicle her journey into knighthood and her adventures as a knight. In Alanna: The First Adventure, we meet Alanna and her twin brother Thom, who switches places with her to go to the City of the Gods so Alanna could fulfill her dream to be a lady knight. She disguises herself as a boy, names herself Alan, and starts her knight training at the royal court.Â Alanna makes friends along the way like Crown Prince Jonathan, King of Thieves George Cooper, and her teacher, Sir Myles of Olau, as well as enemies like Ralon of Malven and the man who becomes Alannaâ€™s nemesis, Duke Roger of Conte. In the next book, In the Hands of the Goddess, Alanna continues her training, now as Jonathanâ€™s squire and good friend, and adopts a strange purple-eyed cat she named Faithful. She joins her first war and tries to find proof that Roger is responsible for the mess that the kingdom finds itself in. Alanna becomes known as The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, which is also the title of the third book, where she leaves Tortall after revealing her identity, killing Roger and becoming a knight. She finds herself joining a Bahzir tribe where she becomes a shaman, and learns how to use and be less afraid of her power. The quartet ends with Lioness Rampant, where Alanna searches for the legendary Dominion Jewel, and returns home to help her friends to fight a war and protect both the soon-to-be-crowned King Jonathan and all of Tortall. Click here to read the rest of the review.
Alanna: The First Adventure [rating=4]
In the Hand of the Goddess [rating=4]
Woman Who Rides Like a Man [rating=3]
Lioness Rampant [rating=5]
2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 30-33 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 14-17 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010