Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alanna: The First Adventure

So for my first Book Dame Review, I feel it is fitting that I review one of my all-time favorite books.

Title: Alanna: the First Adventure
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness Quartet (Book 1)
Genera: Young Adult/Fantasy
Published: 1983

Alanna of Trebond dreams of being a knight, serving her King and country, and doing great deeds. However, she has a slight problem: girls aren’t allowed to train for their shield. So she does what any determined girl would and cons her twin brother into forging letters saying they’re twin boys. She goes to the royal palace disguised as a boy and begins her training to be a knight; he goes to a far away city and studies sorcery. Once at the palace, Alanna makes friends and faces a number of challenges, from bullies and fencing to puberty.

In her debut novel, Tamora Pierce built a strong and enticing world of magic, mystery and exhilaration. Supplied with its’ own sources of history, mythology and theology the realm of Tortall leaps off the page. Tortall is full of diverse people, and even in this first book that is apparent as the reader meets people whose cultures are as dissimilar as medieval Europeans and the Bedouins.

Alanna is a smart, fiery and feisty heroine. She proves over and over that girls can do anything boys can – and be better at it if they work hard enough. There have been statements saying that she is too perfect a heroine, but I find this to be untrue. Alanna is stubborn to a fault and has a terrible temper which she cannot always control. She isn’t good at math, and has issues with self doubt. Despite all the time given to Alanna’s character, the supporting cast is surprisingly well developed, usually with artfully insightful one-liners to describe their personalities.

The book is told in a third person omniscient perspective, although it is a very limited omniscient, rarely leaving Alanna’s point of view. Occasionally there is a shift and the reader will follow things from another’s perspective. However, this is rare in the first book of the quartet and occurs only a handful of times.

My Thoughts:
I am one of those people who rereads books over and over, but there are very few that I’ve read as many times as Alanna: the First Adventure. I go back through it at least once a year, usually more often. When I first read this book I was 11 and wanted to be just like Alanna. (And I have to admit, I was very disappointed to realize that knighthood wasn’t an option for me outside of Vegas.) The plot was so gripping I couldn’t stop reading. I was enthralled as she hopped from one adventure, task or crisis to the next. It was comforting to know we were going through some of the same trials. Here I am, over 14 years later and I still can’t put the book down.

Favorite Scene:
Alanna’s time at Barony Olau is always a delight for me to read. I love history, and this glimpse into Tortall’s past was exciting and left me craving more.

Who this book is best for:
I recommend this book for young women in or close to middle school. I should add a caveat here, though. I have given this book to women of all ages and everyone has enjoyed it. It’s most influential for young women who are still developing and learning about themselves and provides a very positive role model.

Next book in Series: In the Hand of the Goddess

Violence: 1.5 out of 5 for death due to illness and some magical encounters with evil beings.

Stars: 5 of 5

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Love your website, Book Dame :)