Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I listened to the audiobook reading of the unabridged first edition of this book, read by Trini Alvarado
Alanna wants nothing more than to be a knight of the realm. But girls are not allowed to train with weapons and warfare. Her brother wants to be a great magician. They devise a plan to switch places, with Alanna disguised as a boy and headed off to train as a knight, and Thom going to train with the magic wielders. Alanna soon finds that there is much more to keeping up her disguise and to training as a knight than she thought.
Tamora Pierce is one of the top names in high fantasy, and the Song of the Lioness Quartet (of which this is the first installment) is still one of her most popular works. I’ve just never gotten the chance to catch up to it until now. And, I have to say, I was a little bit disappointed. I’m not fully sure why, because the story certainly has all the high marks of good fantasy: swords and sorcery, believable characters, and plenty of action. Alanna is a strong character, and a truly wonderful example of how to do a powerful female character correctly. She is determined, she is stubborn, she is intelligent. But she is also, at time, scared, confused, and unsure. She just doesn’t let those things interfere with her goal. She works her way through them, and comes out stronger at the end.
So, what was my problem? Something about the story just felt flat. Maybe it was that much of the tensions were predictable in their outcome, but that in itself is not unusual in this type of story, and hasn’t stopped my enjoyment of others. There were slow parts, and they did bog down the story a bit, but those were surrounded by well-written action scenes. I can’t say it was a bad read. It wasn’t, and I do want to read at least the next installment.
I would certainly recommend this one to someone looking for an example of a good, strong female character in a high fantasy setting.
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