Book Review: Alanna, The First Adventure
Song of the Lioness
By Tamora Pierce
From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.
And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.
But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.
Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.
Adult Point of View
I had read The Protector of the Small series years ago and not realized that there were books that told Alanna’s story.
This is definitely written for pre-teen girls and I think they will love it. Alanna is smart, plucky, daring, principled and talented. With all of these qualities many girls will want to be just like Alanna. I cannot imagine that there would be much cross-over that boys would find the book very interesting. It also briefly describes the beginning of her menstrual cycle, which is a turn off for a male audience. I was disappointed that the two female characters, Alanna and Kel, from these two series have such similar experiences. I felt like I was reading the same book again, but I checked and it wasn’t.
My other complaints are that at times Pierce falls into writing a cliché statement that doesn’t ring true to the world she has created. At one point, Alanna says “Try this on for size.” Her trite statement was jarring to me as she was fighting a powerful ethereal being. My second complaint is that there is such a long amount of time building Alanna into her position as a page, to become a squire, and suddenly she is in a huge climatic battle in the last couple of pages in the book with the heir to the Kingdom. The pacing seemed hurried at the end. There were a couple of other high points involving Alanna solving a problem, but mostly she was trying not to be discovered as a girl and just working to obtain the necessary skills on the journey to knighthood.
I probably would have liked Alanna more than The Protector of the Small series if I had read it first.
If you like this book try Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, it’s one of my all time favorite books for pre-teen girls and young teens.