I'm not quite sure how, but somewhere along the way in my fantasy reading I totally missed out on the perfectness that is Tamora Pierce. Most likely this omission is due to my not reading teen books while a teenager. That said, I've had several people recommend I start with Pierce's Alanna series and I am happy to report these books are as wonderful as everyone told me they were. Surprise, surprise.
Neither Alanna nor her twin brother Thom want to be what their father (and the rest of the world) want them to be. Thom has always preferred books and sorcery to outdoor pursuits while Alanna isn't happy unless she's out riding, hunting, or in general behaving like a boy. Both Alanna and Thom are more than disappointed when their bookish father decides to send them away - Thom to the castle to learn to be a Knight and Alanna to a local convent to study. Desperate to be spared their fates, Alanna chops off her hair and forges letters from their father sending Alanna as a boy to the castle and Thom to the convent to learn sorcery. Upon arriving at the castle, no one guesses Alanna's secret and she is free to train as a page. Though small, the other boys and adults are impressed with the spunky 'Alan' as she is now known and through hard work earns the respect of everyone around her.
Alanna is wonderful - she never understands her true worth or why those around her love her so much but it's immediately obvious to the reader. She works much harder than anyone else to become the best, especially since she much smaller than the other boys. I also loved Tamora Pierce's frank narrative style that seems to follow Alanna's mental development as well as her physical. Her world building is also a standout - a whole pantheon of gods and intriguing political relationships that continue to lend more maturity to the books as Alanna develops. This series was truly a revelation to me and I can't believe I have waited so long to read them. You can be sure I'll be finishing them in a hurry.
~ Alanna: The First Adventure
~ In the Hand of the Goddess
~ The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
~ Lioness Rampant
Summer Reading Blitz update: 12/30