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.