My sister and my boys have told me to read Tamora Pierce as far back as I can remember, so much so I thought I had. By now, I’m pretty sure I didn’t, or if I did, it was a different series. I’m having a great time exploring Tortall. It’s a sign of strong writing when, despite having read several books since the first in the Song of the Lioness series, I recognized all the characters when they reappeared in book two. More than that, I remembered the complications and suspicions, both Alanna’s and my own.
I had one small quibble in that the book is almost a series of short stories tied together with large time jumps. It took me a bit to adjust to this, but since nothing much happened in the time jumps, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The story is a mix of action and summary to get you to the next point of action, covering a large time span…that of Alanna’s time as a squire for Jonathan.
The focus is less on her schooling than her emotional development. She’s still determined to see herself as both the same as any other squire and somehow exempt from the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Both George and Jonathan have something to say about that, as does an odd encounter in the woods.
Along with her relationships and challenges involved with her secret, Alanna is thrown into the realities of politics and battle. I thought both situations were well written as was the tangle of her direct enemy in this book, one she suspected but lacked proof of before. Interesting solution for why she didn’t come forward earlier though I’ll say no more for fear of spoilers.
I like Alanna. I like her friends, her familiar (yes, she gets claimed by a cat), and the complications she faces. She has help from odd quarters, but neither depends too heavily on that help nor takes it for granted. This last is huge because, while she’s the hero (capital H and all), she is never an island able to accomplish everything on her own and without tripping points. It makes her feel real and easier to form a bond with.