Title: Alanna: The First Adventure
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet #1, Tortall #5
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasy, Strong women
Publisher: Omnibus Books
5th sentence, 74th page: “Alan?” he asked softly.
Disguised as a boy, Alanna sets out to achieve her ultimate ambition: to become a knight. The struggle proves she is as strong as the other young men demands all her determination but the need to cover her growing femininity is an entirely different challenge. And while the court magician may be her most dangerous enemy, the possibility of love may be her undoing…
Tales of women masquerading as men occur again and again in both classical and modern literature. After all, in a society that is patriarchal in nature, the idea of dressing as a man to get the recognition and follow the path that a woman wants isn’t that ridiculous. Pierce’s adaptation of this classical story works beautifully in the Song of the Lioness Quartet. Alanna’s choice to pursue her chosen future, regardless of the consequences shows a level of gumption and courage that few truly have. Her ability to fight for what she believes is right is completely admirable and it makes this story impossible to put down.
I love that although throughout this series, Alanna chooses the life of a warrior, and a man’s role in this society, it is never portrayed as something simple. She is always physically weaker than her male companions, and as such, constantly works at strengthening herself so that she is able to keep up with them. It is the fact that although Alanna is clearly able to undertake whatever she chooses, there are some things which do take more effort and time on her behalf. The stubbornness and dedication with which she undertakes these tasks is somewhat relatable, even though I have never had the desire to take up arms to protect my country…
Although the main storyline in Alanna: The First Adventure focuses on a young girl masquerading as a boy to establish her goals, there is an even more important message that Pierce departs upon her readers. The idea that no matter what we want to do with our lives, we are who we are and that needs to be accepted. It isn’t until the very end of this story that Alanna is able to accept both her future as a warrior, and her existence as a woman. This moment when she accepts that she can do both, and be both is integral to not only her own happiness, but being able to move forward in her own life.
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