Tag Archives: Tortall

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Overview

Tempests and SlaughterTitle: Tempests and Slaughter
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Numair Chronicles #1, Tortall #9
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, MagesMedieval fantasy
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Lothian
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: Chioke was still present, reading in Ozorne’s chair, when they entered the room.

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Synopsis

THREE STUDENT MAGES, BOUND BY FATE… FATED FOR DANGER

Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness – and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the ‘leftover’ prince’ with secret ambitions.

Together, these friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. But as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realises that soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Thoughts

This book was either going to be amazing or amazingly crap. Mostly because it is dealing with the backstory of one of my favourite characters in this series. That, and it is a bit of a departure from Pierce’s normal stories – it features a male protagonist going through his coming of age story, instead of a female. But, all in all, I was MADLY IN LOVE with this tale. I read it in 2 days… it would have been one, but my partner told me that I had to sleep…

The first in this trilogy follows Arram Draper as he begins to learn of his powers and make two incredibly powerful friendships. I found one of these friendships a little difficult since I know that the child eventually turns into a horrible man. Yet, the foundations for this are already there. Along with the reasons why the two became friends in the first place. It’s a great reminder that not only is Tamora Pierce GREAT at characterisation, she’s also fantastic in revealing that there is a reason for every character’s decisions. Although Ozorne makes some truly horrible ones, in the beginning they don’t necessarily come from horrible places. Just places of fear, spoiltness and an inability to be understood and loved by others.

Although I love the person that Arram eventually ends up with, his relationship with Varice is quite cute. It is the epitome of young love and shows how two young people growing up next to each other an change and still accept one another. Which, honestly is what I think love is – accepting the change in another person and seeing them for who they truly are, not who you want them to be. It’ll be interesting to see how this relationship develops in the rest of the series. Now it’s just a long wait for the next story…

 <- Lioness Rampant Review The Exile’s Gift Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

Overview

MastiffTitle: Mastiff
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #3, Tortall #3
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “She needs to sniff the riverbank,” Tunstall said.

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Synopsis

THE HUNT IS ON!

Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the Provost’s Guard. But her life takes an unexpected turn when her fiance is killed on a slave raid. Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.

It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom appears at her door. Within hours, Beka; her partner, Tunstall; her scent hound, Achoo; and an unusual but powerful mage are working on an extremely secretive case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the entire Tortallan government. As Beka delves deeper into the motivations of the criminals she now Hunts, she learns of deep-seated political dissatisfaction, betrayal, and corruption. These are people with power, money, and influence. They are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic. And they are nearly impossible to identify.

This case – a Hunt that will take her to places she’s never been – will challenge Beka’s tracking skills beyond the city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly whom she can trust with her life and her country’s future.

Thoughts

I love this conclusion to Beka’s tale. From the very first page, you know that she is the famous ancestress of George Cooper and there is an allusion to the fact that she was incredibly famous. Terrier and Bloodhound both make you think that this could be the tale. But Mastiff is so amazingly obviously the reason why Beka is so famous. It’s a great tale of betrayal and trust, fate and destiny. But also, just a great crime story and hunt. After all, Beka is a dog on a mission.

I really loved Master Farmer in this story. He’s an incredibly unorthodox magician, and someone that I steadily fell in love with more and more throughout every scene. Although Beka is quite rigid and an adamant pursuer of justice, Farmer is quite possibly completely cracked. He pokes fun at everyone and manages to find a way to seemingly enjoy himself every step of the way. The balance between the characters is really well written. Not only did it help to round out the cast, but it was also a fantastic way in which to balance out Beka’s quite intense characterisation. Although I do enjoy her intensity and independence, it was nice to have a more obviously humorous character throughout this hunt.

One of the things that I really love about this series is that it starts with Eleni Cooper’s introduction to Beka’s past. Throughout the storyline, she meets with many other ancestors of the characters which I have begun to know and love throughout the tales of Tortall. Ending the tale with George’s impression of his ancestor and her famous cat really helped to bring this full circle. The fact that it is so seamlessly woven throughout her tale just makes the mastery of Pierce’s work even more enthralling. It provides an extra layer to the tale of Tortall and gives it a function and form that spreads over generations, rather than characters in the same years.

 <- Bloodhound Review Student of the Ostriches Review ->
Image source: Pinterest

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce

Overview

Tortall - A Spy's GuideTitle: Tortall: A Spys’s Guide
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Tortall Companion
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Two days later, before a crowd of citizens, she ascended the higest tower of the palace, spoke of the king’s inhumanity to his people, and leaped to her death.

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Synopsis

Dear Thom,
Do you remember the room next to my office? You told me it was a danger of fire with all the crates of old papers I stored in there. I’ve been cleaning it out – and reading wome of what’s in those crates. Strange to find so many reminders of how it was in those first days, when King Jonathon and Queen Thayet were deciding how they should rule and your grandfather Myles, Evin Larse, and I were thrashing out the beginnings of the Shadow Service. I’ve even found papers from Daine, Numair and Neal in the lot. Should I save the lessons you boys and your sister wrote, to show your children one day?
Your mother and I look forward to seeing you for the Midwinter Festival and hearing about your mage studies.
Your loving father,
George

Thoughts

I love the world of Tortall. I have done since my mum first gave me First Test when I was ten years old. So, finding out that the latest book on Tortall is just as good, if not better than expected…? Well, it was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. And it was definitely over much too quickly. Starting with George’s letter to Thom to place the stories to follow into context. It also gives a tantalising hint as to what the future holds for these amazing characters.

Unlike the rest of the books that I’ve laid hands on by Tamora Pierce, this one isn’t really a story. Rather, it’s all of the little bits and pieces that have been used to create the world that many of us know and love. It features profiles, letters and snippets that give shape and form to what happens between the stories. Even the ways in which the royal family’s spouses were originally received at the outset of their reigns.

I loved the visually engaging way in which this book was set out. After all, it wasn’t just a  story, but rather a collection of snippets that make a world truly come to life. Different handwritings, backdrops to the words and images create a sense that this is a collection rather than a chronological storyline.

Something about this haphazard collection of tales and letters makes me think that every time I read it, I will find something else that adds an extra layer to the stories of Tortall. Something that I look forward to reading and experiencing again and again over many years.

 <- The Dragon’s Tale Review Terrier Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Overview

BloodhoundTitle: Bloodhound
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #2, Tortall #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I will write my proper Sunday journal tonight.

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Synopsis

Beka Cooper is finally a Dog – a fully fledged member of the Provost’s Guard, dedicated to keeping peace in Corus. But there’s unrest in Tortall’s capital. Counterfeit coins are turning up all over the city, and merchants are raising prices to cover their losses. To avert a looming crisis, Beka delves deep into the gambling world, and she won’t let anything – or anyone – jeopardize her mission. To succeed she’ll have to learn to sniff out the criminals – to be a bloodhound…

Thoughts

No matter how many times I read the Beka Cooper series, I am entranced by the stunningly simple and provocative words. This time, Beka is after forgers and her chase brings her to the bright and vibrant port city. Here Beka is not only forced to face up to a Rogue gone very wrong, but also her own feelings towards a man, and the first movements of a binary view on women that are beginning to surface. This story is not only a great addition to the world of Tortall, but it begins to tell the tale of just why Alanna is forced to hide her gender when she becomes a knight many generations later.

One of the reasons I have long loved Pierce’s books is that she normally focuses on a female as the story’s hero. The sexism that is inherent throughout the world is normally quietly written into the story. But, in Bloodhound Cooper and Goodwin are told in no uncertain terms that women can’t do the same job as men. That they are meeker, should be veiled and certainly aren’t up to the rigours of crime work. Beka’s ability to capture the criminal that no one else is willing to tackle definitely begs to differ. I love that although there are many who think that Cooper isn’t able to stop a potential kingdom destroyer down because of her gender and her background, she ignores them and acts in a morally inspiring way. It is also a wonderful reminder that we can all find our own autonomy, regardless of what others think and say.

There is something terrifying about someone idiotic being in power… (anyone thinking of America right now?). Pearl is the perfect example of this – power, drive and an inability to think beyond immediate pleasure are a horrible mixture in such a vindictive package. It is a pleasure to see the karmic justice which is meted out to her.

This is one of the darker stories of the world of Tortall, although, the entire Beka Cooper series flows in this vein. It really makes you look further into crimes and the reasons why people commit them. It makes you question what is morally right and wrong, and what would happen in a lawless existence. Or at least, a world like Beka’s where corruption and bribery has an overt place in society…

 <- Terrier Review Mastiff Review ->
Image source: Wikipedia

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Overview

TerrierTitle: Terrier
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #1, Tortall #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: I do love it there during the day.

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Synopsis

Beka Cooper is a trainee Dog in the Lower City. It’s a tough beat, but it’s where she was born. Shy Beka’s talent is listening to the ghosts that pigeons carry, the cries of the unhappy dead. When she hears of a brutal underlord committing crimes against the children of her city, it is up to her and her Dogs to see justice done.

Thoughts

It doesn’t matter how many times I read this book – I love it every damn time. Although Terrier is another tale set in the world of Tortall, it is so incredibly unique and different from the other tales set in this world. Partly this is because it is set hundreds of years before the Song of the Lioness Quartet, but it’s also because Beka is just so completely different from the other heroines throughout the series. she is from a lower social class than any of the other characters, and occupies a world that is nothing like the rest of the realm of Tortall that we’ve been introduced to.

Although Beka is different to the other heroines that I have thus far had the privilege to meet throughout the series, she is also similar in one key way – she’ll do anything to see justice served, and constantly goes out of her way to protect those in her care. It is this that earns Beka the nickname ‘Terrier’ and leads her on a merry chase through the slums of Corus in pursuit of a murderer and kidnapper. Her bravery and innate sense of what is right and wrong is inspiring, and it drives the storyline beautifully – it is impossible to put down when you know that Beka is trying to save children and the poor from almost certain death.

Diaries are a great way to hide our inner thoughts, secrets, dreams and hopes – so reading a story that is written as a diary gave Beka’s words and journey so much more emotions and potency throughout the story. Reading her diary takes you through Beka’s experiences as she undergoes her first months of puppy training – every moment, every trial and tribulation is lived alongside Beka as she struggles to find her place in the world and search for justice amongst her childhood companions.

 <- Tortall: A Spy’s Guide Review Bloodhound Review ->
Image source: Tamora Pierce Wiki

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Overview

Lioness RampantTitle: Lioness Rampant
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet #4, Tortall #8
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 1988
5th sentence, 74th page: Since the night before, Liam had been careful and deadly serious, concentrating on keeping their company safe until they arrived in Rachia.

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Synopsis

Alanna has fought shaman, bested wraiths and vanquished magi, but nothing could prepare her for this challenge. Accompanied by the legendary Shang Dragon, a man Alanna finds unbearably attractive, she must attempt the impossible. Recover the fabled Dominion jewel. And she must work fast because Tortall is in terrible danger. Thanks to her brother, Thom, Roger of Conte is back, and more powerful than ever.

Thoughts

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.

Every literary hero has one true enemy that challenges them, forces them to not only battle their external demons, but also their internal ones. For Alanna, this is Duke Roger, and the lingering effects of their last battle have reflected on her every action since. Finally, in Lioness Rampant, Alanna is able to face up to this aspect of her past, and not only realise what she did was justified, but also save her family, home and kingdom.

There are so many things that I love about the Song of the Lioness quartet – not just the characters, and Alanna’s ability to constantly grow to accept herself. But it also highlights the fact that woman can do anything (and everything) that a man can do. Although some of the more physical aspects required a lot more work, it is a woman, not a man who is able to eventually save the day. She is also able to turn down marriage, and although Alanna does find her perfect partner, it is a tiny subplot to the series. It isn’t the aim of the story to find a man and live happily ever after, rather, it is just an addition to the overall happy ending of the characters within the series.

<- The Woman Who Rides Like a Man Review Tempests and Slaughter Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

Overview

The Woman Who Rides Like a ManTitle: The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet #3, Tortall #7
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 1986
5th sentence, 74th page: “You remember Hakim Fahrar, the man you fought?” Alanna nodded.

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Synopsis

Newly knighted, Alanna rides for the desert in search of adventure. Captured by the Bloody Hawk tribe, she must challenge ancient tribal customs if she ever hopes for freedom. But how can she convince the tribe to change, when their powerful shaman cries hourly for her execution? Tradition demands she prove her worth in a magical duel – to the death. And while she is away from the palace Alanna must also choose between marrying Prince Jonathan or living alone as the knight she has strived so hard to become.

Thoughts

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.

The conclusion of In the Hand of the Goddess sees the death and foiling of Alanna’s primary enemy throughout the series. Yet, as with every good heroine, she isn’t easy about her hand in dealing out death to another. It takes her an entire year (the time which the book covers) to truly realise that sometimes there is nothing else you can do. Realising that she probably made mistakes in her pursuit of Roger’s evil, and acknowledging that there were things she could have done differently were so important to this healing process. It is something that acts as a wonderful reminder on a daily basis – we all have things in our past that we regret, but there is absolutely nothing we can do to change the past, so really, we need to focus on how to overcome the future.

Alanna’s acceptance of her magic also comes to the fore in this novel. Through teaching others and living with a people so completely removed from her own, she is able to learn to accept all of her gifts, not just the ones that she actually enjoys using (such as sword work). She goes from being a young woman afraid of a very big part of herself to a confident, and knowledgeable mage who is able to protect others with all of her being. Obviously we’re not all mages, but it is a good reminder that we are who we are, and there is nothing that can change that.

Although for me The Woman Who Rides Like a Man has a very powerful message of acceptance, it is also just an amazingly good book to read. Alanna’s trials and tribulations, her relationships and her ability to keep going when all of her enemies have stopped make her a great heroine to follow. Her temper, and the sheer honesty of some of those she holds dearest inject the sometimes serious aspects of the story with a little humour, and a sense of joy that would otherwise be missing. Pierce does a great job of writing a story for young girls about a fiery, passionate young woman – something that we all need in our lives.

<- In the Hand of the Goddess Review Lioness Rampant Review ->
Image source: Amazon

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

Overview

In the Hand of the GoddessTitle: In the Hand of the Goddess
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet #2, Tortall #6
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 1984
5th sentence, 74th page: Faithful leaped on to Alanna’s lap as they rode on, startling Darkness not a bit.

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Synopsis

Sent north to fight the marauding Tusaine, Alanna is swept into a world of danger and intrigue. But while she proves herself in battle, she cannot vanquish the fears in her heart. Who is trying to kill her and her beloved Prince Jonathan? Come midwinter, she must face the terror of the Ordeal, the ceremony that will make her a knight, or destroy her. But uncovering Duke Roger’s secret before he uncovers hers will test her more than the Ordeal ever could.

Thoughts

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.

At the very beginning of this story, Alanna is told that she must learn to face her three fears; love, the Ordeal and Duke Roger. Pierce beautifully takes us on her journey to overcome and conquer the seemingly impossible. Well, impossible for Alanna.

The battle of wits between Alanna and Roger continues throughout this story, and it is only when Alanna is able to finally admit how she feels about the man, that she is able to release herself from his hold. Roger is everything that people are drawn to – influential, charismatic, rich and powerful. Yet, from his first appearance in Alanna: The First Adventure, something isn’t quite right. It is frustrating to watch as Alanna is unable to face up to her fears and confront the worrying man. There is always something creepy about those who are too liked, and too perfect – and Roger is a great reminder of the ugliness that can hide beneath a beauty.

Personally, it is Alanna’s ability to overcome her fear of love that is the most intriguing and meaningful personal journey that is embarked on in this story. Fearing love due to her father’s fate is completely acceptable, and even understandable, yet, until she is able to embrace her love for others, and theirs for her, she is somehow more lonely and isolated than the rest of her friends. It is a great reminder that whatever path we walk on, sometimes the pain is lessened when we have someone to come home to at night.

<- Alanna: The First Adventure Review The Woman Who Rides Like a Man Review ->
Image source: Tamora Pierce

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Overview

Alanna - The First AdventureTitle: 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
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 1983
5th sentence, 74th page: “Alan?” he asked softly.

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Synopsis

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…

Thoughts

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.

<- Student of Ostriches Review In the Hand of the Goddess Review ->
Image source: Booktopia

Student of Ostriches by Tamora Pierce

Overview

tortall-and-other-landsTitle: Student of Ostriches
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet #0.5, Tortall #4
In: Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection (Tamora Pierce)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasy, Strong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Bluefire
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: “I believe they will take an old woman with your unusual skills,” the Falcon said to me.

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Synopsis

The story is about a girl, Kylaia al Jmaa, who must fight for her sister’s honor in a duel. She learned to fight by watching the animals of the savanna, namely the ostrich as it kicked. Joesh Valany, a Shang warrior from the north, was so impressed that he took her on as his student.

Thoughts

I’ve loved the idea of Shang warriors since the first moment they were mentioned in Alanna: The First Adventure, so finally finding a story about one… indescribable! Kylaia is briefly mentioned in the Song of the Lionness series, and it was difficult to imagine how a woman would become a master of her own body, to the point that she is able to kill a man with her bare hands. It is easy to understand how the rest of the Tortall women choose to pursue their destinies – their parents were involved in wars, they fell into the situation, or they are stubborn nobles who decide to forge a slightly unique path. Yet, the idea of someone becoming so honed in their body that they are chosen for the Shang way of life… it finally makes sense!

Kylaia uses the animals and surrounding nature to teach her how to not only fight, but also to live her life. Running, climbing, breathing is all inspired by the natural world around her. The fact that this natural world happens to be based upon the idea of tribal Africa… it just makes the story ten times better. For someone like me who is already obsessed with these animals, it is incredibly easy, and plausible to see how they can be the inspiration for certain ways of fighting. And the strength and morality which Kylaia shows throughout this story, whilst not necessarily inspired by the animals’ presence, feels so in-kind to the rest of her actions. Animals don’t lie and cheat, people do.

<- Mastiff Review Alanna: The First Adventure Review ->
Image source: Tamora Pierce Wiki