No matter how many times I read this book, I am caught anew by the beauty of Austen’s words and the excellent story that is shaped by them. There’s a reason that this is such a well-known classic. Regardless of the quote, there are so many moments in this story that people immediately know, whether they’ve read it or not.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this novella since I first read it! I love the idea of four sisters set in pre-Christian Europe, and the very different roles that they all play in their lives and the safety of the kingdom. Rose (the main sister in this story) is so clear and striking in my mind’s eye, and I find myself returning to her story again and again. She is the epitome of what many women must have experienced in that era – married to a man she doesn’t love, whilst yearning for the one that she does.
This was one of the more complex stories so far in the Temperance Brennan series – a freak discovery of bones in a bag, a plane crash and a baby in an incinerator all combined into one complex tale of mayhem and woe. The complexities of the storyline made it a little difficult to follow the cast at some points. For each of the crimes, there was a different set of players – each crime had its own set of suspects and professionals involved. Their own victims with their own lives. Even new investigators at each point of this story. It builds to create a multifaceted array of characters that can be a little difficult to follow at some points, but also show a very realistic approach to the life of a forensic anthropologist.
Lioness Rampant is a great conclusion to the Song of the Lioness quartet. Alanna’s years of travel, training and testing help to bring her powers to the fore. And luckily, because this is an epic battle and journey that helps to cement her fame as a hero in the Tortallan world. Yet, it is also where Alanna is able to come full circle – she finally accepts herself for everything that she is, she finds herself someone that she wants to spend the rest of her life with, and she is able to find her place in the world that makes her happy and fulfilled.
The entire Song of the Lioness quartet is about acceptance for me – acceptance of the differences (and similarities of others), acceptance that things are not always as they seem, and most importantly, acceptance of yourself. Although Alanna is forced to accept herself as both a woman and a warrior within the first two books, her ability to come to terms with both her magic and her recent past are seriously challenged, and eventually resolved in The Woman Who Rides Like a Man.
Alanna’s final years as a knight-in-training are everything that her first years as a page were – they are filled with laughter, danger and intrigue. The revealing of her secret at the end of Alanna: The First Adventure just helps to further her tale as she continues to battle enemies, both inside and out. Yet, as she gets older, the stakes are also raised, and Alanna is constantly forced to face even greater challenges. Not to mention that In the Hand of the Goddess brings forth her patron – the Mother Goddess.
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.