You know, I'm in a sword-fighting-magic mood right now.
Why, you ask?
This Friday, the favorites pick is...Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce!
I decided just to focus on the first book--I don't really think I have it in me to review and do justice to the whole, wonderful Song of the Lioness Quartet at once. I love Tamora Pierce's books--and Alanna is definitely one of her best. I've been re-reading this book for years, but I never tire of it. If you haven't read book, scuttle/skeddadle/saunter/ now to a place of dead trees and snatch up a copy. I mean, NOW.
- "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 only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl Thom heads to the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, in 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."
I've read Alanna: The First Adventure so many times that it's probably ingrained in my very being. My (very) tattered copy occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf--lesser books are strewn across the floor*. This book is one of chief reasons I love fantasy so much.
Tamora Pierce's books are my comfort reading. Bored? Angry? Tired? Unhappy? I only have to pick up a copy of Alanna: The First Adventure, and I'll be able to utterly lose myself in a wonderful world of magic, knights, and adventure. With Tortall, Pierce has created a fantasy kingdom that I want so very much to live in: I'll trade in school and my house happily for sword craft lessons and a chambers in a castle** anyday. Actually, Tortall is a distinctly King-Arthurish--the whole castles, knights, and quests thang is a strong component of the world.
Which brings me to my first raving: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE WORLD-BUILDING! I mean, luuuuuuurve. With this book, Pierce has managed to create a world as real as the one we live in. Flawless world building, so well-thought out, and probably very original at the time this was published eons ago***. The different cultures, the mythology, the magic, the Thieves Guild, the inner workings of the kingdom--they all combine to form a world that I want to travel to. Seriously. Take me to a book-a-real-machine ****, and Tortall would be right-dab on the top of my list.
Alanna is just the kind of strong-headed, bad-tempered, and reckless character that I love. She's not content to be stifled and forced to become a lady when what she really wants is to become a knight of legend. And she manages to get her way--by disguising herself as a boy, much in the tradition of Mulan or other women warriors of myths. I have to admire this girl's determination--throughout the book, she never lets anything get in her way. Ever. I mean, she works for it. She's a girl, and she's at a definite disadvantage against the older, stronger boys. But Alanna is really something inspiring; she never ceases training and trying to improve herself. I found myself thinking throughout the whole book: Whoot! Goooo Alanna! You go girl! You tell them! Because she's the perfect model of Girl Power!***** And although some people have been known to say that Alanna is a little too perfect, she really isn't. You should see the temper on her! And although we're inundated by descriptions of her fiery red hair and violet eyes, I like those sorts of details, especially in this case. And I don't know why, I've always been fascinated by how the color of her magic--violet--matches her eyes. Small details like that awed me as a young girl. Pretty much everything about this book awes me.
Okay, I'm admitting it: I want to be Alanna. But who wouldn't? She has a horse. A HORSE. She has a sword. A SWORD! She lives in a castle. A CASTLE! She can do magic. MAGIC! I want those four things desperately, but I'll probably never get them.
The book is just pure enjoyment. It'll take you on an adventure--with an unforgettable, determined character at it's helm, extraordinary world building, and a fast-paced plot. If you haven't read this book yet, you're really missing out on something. I mean, your life is really unfufilled at this point. It is. Not having read this book is the equivalent of not having ever eaten chocolate. ******GoreadthisnoworI'llforceyousomehowIdon'tknowhowbutneverfearIwill.
Alanna: The First Adventure is just the start of an altogether marvelous quartet--the next three books are equally gripping. Tamora Pierce's books never disappoint.
Here's to hoping that they make a movie. I really want a movie. Please?
*Oh yes. I am that messy, awful sort of person that never cleans their room. Trust me, I suffer for it. I'll spare you the details and the permanent mental scarring...
***aka before I was born
****no, I have no idea what a book-a-real-machine is either. Something that lets readers actually travel to worlds in books, sort of like a time machine. Both sadly impossible, at this point. At least I think so. Unless their's some top-secret science experience going on riiiight now. *crosses fingers*
*****This book was perfect when I was in 4th grade. Cause, you know, boys have cooties. And girls like Alanna can totally kick their buts!
****** What a tortured existence that must be!