Lioness Quartet

Grid showing covers of four Lioness booksIn the past few years I’ve read a lot of Tamora Pierce. I’ve wished that I had read her earlier, as her characters are a model of strong young women that I can’t recall reading about anywhere else.

Her Song of the Lioness quartet is made up of Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant. The boooks follow young Alanna of Trebond, a noble girl determined to become a night. The kingdom of Tortall used to have “lady knights” but hasn’t in hundreds of years.

Alanna leverages her early training, her cunning, determination, and skill to accomplish her goal. Along the way she has plenty of adventures, and helps save her kingdom more than once. She also has a few love affairs as she gets older.

I’ve seen other reviewers express serious reservations about Alanna’s romantic life, saying that it wasn’t a good role model for young girls, but I have to strongly disagree. Teenagers, especially around 16, will have sex. The books also make it clear that in Alanna’s world, girls were often married by that age. I appreciated tha Alanna was unsure about whether she wanted to be married, and was able to stand up to pressure from powerful parties when it would have meant giving up her vailiantly fought-for knighthood.

As good as Pierce is on gender, her writing on race leaves much to  be desired. In book 3, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Alanna spends significant time with the Bahzir, a nomadic desert tribe. Pierce’s treatment of the tribe is rather awkward. There’s the same “white savior” theme that is at play in her later books, Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen.

Overall, though, a solid series and one I’m glad I finally read.

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5 thoughts on “Lioness Quartet

  1. I’m a huge fan of the quartet – Lioness Rampant is my favourite – and Alanna is the standard I measure all female characters by ever since I first read this nearly eight years ago. I adore her, and most of the other characters in the book as well. Pierce has a real talent for creating characters you can’t help but love, doesn’t she?

    • Definitely lovable. Although Alanna almost feels *too* perfect at times. I think this is addressed a bit with the “Protector of the Small” quartet, where it’s important that Kel isn’t goddess-touched, but someone who really struggles day to day. Yeah, she triumphs, too, but at least you get a better feel of what she’s going through. But she’s pretty unapproachable as well. 🙂

      • I must admit, I read the Protector of the Small ages ago, and I don’t remember too many details, but Kel didn’t masquerade as a boy, did she? I think that made it that much harder for her, especially with the..lancing, was it? Anything Alanna couldn’t do as a page and a squire was attributed to her being scrawny, but for Kel, it was her being a girl. I love both the quartets, though – much more than anything else she’s written. 🙂

      • No, she didn’t. But there was a lot more detail on the training required to be a knight, which I really enjoyed. The Protector Quartet is my favorite. I know the protaganists are the same age in that one and in Lioness, but the Protector books seem a bit more sophisticated. Which I believe Pierce has talked about, since before Harry Potter publishers put more limits on “kids” books.

  2. I did read Tamora Pierce when I was younger and I love her strong heroines! I got to meet her recently and she gave a wonderful talk with some really funny jokes at the expense of the damsel-in-distress trope. She’s pretty awesome 🙂

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