Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

June 23, 2011
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First of all: don’t laugh at the title. It was the author’s first book, and it was published in the ‘80s, okay? So, anyways, this book takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Tortall, of the traditional knights-and-mages-and-magical-creatures variety. And our heroine is Alanna of Trebond, who at eleven years of age is shortly about to learn to become a lady when really she wants to be a knight. Fortunately, there is a simply solution. She’ll just trade places with her twin brother Thom, who’d much rather learn magic than swordplay, and pretend to be a boy for the next eight years or so of her life.

It works, more or less, and this book chronicles the four years Alanna spends as a page, the first step in becoming a knight of the realm. Along the way there is friend-making, bully-fighting, and, whether she likes it or not, girl troubles. She has run-ins with a mysterious plague, the Thief King, troubling dreams, her magical Gift, and the first whispers of political intrigue. And the whole time, she has to make sure no one realizes she’s not actually a guy.

A warning is necessary here: this book is really not meant for guys. I mean, I guess you can read it, but it’s written for girls who want a heroine that totally kicks butt regardless of gender stereotypes, aka Alanna. That is, in fact, the entire purpose of this book and it succeeds charmingly. Alanna: The First Adventure is the first book in a quartet, which means there are three more books detailing the next ten years or so of her life, a medley of bandit-battling and kingdom-saving and romance. And then there are about ten more books set in the same universe about various other girls who also kick butt. Don’t worry, the titles get better.





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