Monday, February 20, 2012


Pierce, Tamora. Alanna: The First Adventure. New York: Atheneum, 1983. ISBN 9781442426412. $8.99. Ages 10-14. 249 pp.

Well loved by young readers since its debut, this version of Tamora Pierce’s first book is a 2010 republished trade edition. Alanna is the first book in a quartet called Song of the Lioness, and introduces the world Pierce created in the realm of Tortall. Many of her other books take place in the same world. Alanna is not like most noble girls her age. When her father decides it is time to send Alanna and her twin brother Thom off to school—Alanna to the convent to learn how to be a lady, and Thom to become a knight—Alanna comes up with the plan to switch places with her brother. Thom, not wanting to become a knight any more than Alanna wants to become a proper lady, goes off to the convent to learn how to be a sorcerer, while Alanna disguises herself as a boy and begins lessons as a page in training bound towards knighthood. Though Alanna had thought herself one of the best at her home at fief Trebond, at the palace, it is not so easy for her. She has to keep the secret of being a girl from her teachers and fellow pages, and deal the tough training while being smaller than the other boys often having to work extra hard in secret to build up her upper body strength to compete with the boys. Yet through it all Alanna has grand adventures, meeting and befriending the king of the thieves, and learning how to use and not fear her own magic powers to save the prince from death and defeat an evil presence in a haunted city.

The world that Pierce has created is intriguing as it contains elements of a medieval society complete with sword fights, magic, mystery, and clashes between good and evil. Alanna is a likeable heroine despite being stubborn with a quick temper, and I found myself rooting for her to succeed and prove that a girl can be just as strong and courageous as any boy. Without knowing her secret, Alanna gains the admiration of her peers and the book hints that Alanna is destined for more great deeds and is favored by the gods. The end of the books leaves you wanting to pick up the rest of the books in the series just to find out what happens and see all that she achieves.

Joyce Myers

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