Reader's Choice Review #2: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Series: Song of the Lioness #1
Publication Date: May 27, 2003
Original Publication Date: January 1, 1983
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Middle-Grade
Pages: 216 (Mass Market Paperback)
Source: Borrowed from a Friend
Recommended By: Gillian
"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. 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: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent; 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 make her a legend in the land.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I have heard so much about Tamora Pierce. Several people who shall remain nameless even made me feel guilty for not reading anything written by her. So, I picked up her debut the first chance I got. I was told many times that it's not her best piece of work and it only gets better from here, but with that in mind, this was still a great debut! And the fact that it's still well loved today, thirty years after its initial publication, says a lot about Pierce's writing and amazing characterization.

This book is classified as a middle grade because it starts while Alanna is ten and ends when she is fourteen. We begin the book by meeting Alanna and her twin brother, Thom. Both have the Gift and neither want to do what they're destined to do, so they decide to switch places. Thom head's out to become a Sorcerer while Alanna cuts her hair and plans to tape down her eventual chest to become a Knight by training at the Castle. She heads out with Coram Smythesson, a trusted ally and authority figure who is happy to return to his glory days in the army and the shenanigans quickly ensue.

There we meet a ton of other boys training to be knights as well as the prince, Jonathan of Conte and the King of Thieves, George Cooper. All are interesting characters. I specifically enjoyed Jonathan's crew which consisted of himself and several other elder pages-turned-squires. The most notable of which is Gareth, son of the Duke in charge of training the future Knights. Though built like a skyscraper with the arms of a giants, he has the biggest heart and I loved his company. The prince is a very thoughtful and affectionate character. And George is the most surprising trustworthy ally of all, despite the fact that he's a solid seven years older then Alanna.

That was one of my issues with this book...the complete lack of disregard when it comes to ages. I understand that this is a high fantasy, but it's odd to me. Jonathan and Gary's group of boys readily accepted Alan into their circle almost immediately. They're three to four years older than her/him. I can honestly say that when I was their age, I would have rather thrown myself into an icy river than be caught dead with immature ten year old's. It was just odd to me. Add the fact that George is so much older than her into the mix and I was squirming. He's seven years older than her! And near the end of the book I could see an awesome friendship that I adored turning into a potential romance in book two. The age difference is so absurd to me! I just can't get over that small hump.

Alanna was so perfect, though. Admittedly mature for her age, she takes the already perfect concept of girl-pretends-to-be-a-boy-and-subsequently-kicks-major-baddie-ass to an entirely new level. Whether it be her own personal feminine problems or an evil squire picking on her because he has nothing better to do, she takes every bull by the horns and goes with it. She's a doer and a problem-solver, not a little girl that will allow everyone to walk all over her. And I really loved this about her.

And you would think that with such a perceptive young girl, the evil villain's name would be painted all over the walls. And it is for Alanna as it is for us, but she is unable to convince anyone else of Roger's evilness. See, Roger is the Prince's cousin and the heir to the throne following him. A mysterious Sorcerer made illness tried to claim the Prince's life and then, upon the Prince's recovery, Roger shows up in court claiming to have the desire of training all those with the Gift and near-death experiences for Prince Jonathan continues to ensue. Yet Jonathan refuses to open his eyes to any of this. It's so frustrating. Roger has evil written all over him and Jonathan, who is normally really intelligent and perceptive, decided to put his blinders on and never look back. I just wanted to shake him so hard sometimes because of this and scream, "the villain is right in front of you!" I truly hope that Roger is revealed to be the snake he is sometime soon.

I highly recommend this series. It is such a great high fantasy with the promise of some amazing romance in book two. It covers all topics involving a female coming to age and the curiosities of love are promised for book two after a healer insists upon giving Alanna a charm to protect against fertility. I understand the immense love found in the world for Tamora Pierce, but I hope book two in this quartet is better than book one. As enjoyable as this was, I am slightly disappointed from the hype.

3.5 stars


~*~Reader's Choice~*~

If you have any book that you'd like me to read because you're unsure about it or you think it would be awesome to torture me with a terrible book, submit it below!


  1. DO NOT LEAVE GILLIAN NAMELESS? Point the finger with a sassy gif. Lol.

    I started with the Trickster's series, and Alanna, which I read second, was definitely a step back in writing quality, but still fun. Also, hilarious that this one's a middle grade, since she sexes three or four guys by the time the series is over. GET IT, GURRRRRL.

    Bahahaha, you were so mean to the little kids. One of my good friends was a year younger, but....yeah, I don't think that at 14 and a freshman or so in high school I would have hung out with a fifth grader.

    Oh man, I do not remember anything about the villain. Lol. Oops.


      YES. She goes from MG eleven-year-old to... ACCOMPLISHED LADY. Taught me all I ever needed to know about boys, Alanna did. Which is why I'm the worst at boys.

      You are going to have to get over age if you ever want to love Tamora Pierce. Like... The Immortals. You have to kind of pretend that age doesn't exist in that one.


  2. I haven't read this series, but I do have all the books in The Protector of the Small series, which comes after this one! I love her stuff too! So good and so much fun!

    1. Sorry, nope, The Immortals comes next! Protector of the Small is AFTER The Immortals :)

  3. LOL. Leaving people nameless despite one above and the recommender in question ;). I feel guilty not having read some of her work too. I agree with what you said about her work being still so loved today - she's STILL on so many YA covers and in blurbs everywhere and comparisons too.

    The King of Thieves. What a great title. The characters sound great. I'd started to read this when I was in a bookstore but felt guilty about buying when I was on a ban. I never got so far as the castle and the knight training but I so should have.

    Alanna sounds a fantastic heroine. The kind I'd love. It's really irritating when the villain is obvious but the characters don't catch up to your realization. Sorry that the book didn't quite live up to the hype - it's Tamora Pierce; so hard to live up to that - but it's great that you liked it and will continue onto the next!! Hope you enjoy it more and the villain situation works out better.