So once I realized, after reading Protector of the Small and Beka Cooper, that there were other books in the Tortall world (and that I had not read it in order–a big no no for me) I of course had to go back and read the others. As an added bonus, the actual first series was about Alanna the Lioness who, despite so little actual time in the books was one of my favorite character in Kel’s story.
Book 1: Alanna and her brother Thom have been all but ignored by their father the scholar are about to be shipped off. Thom, as the son, is to be sent to train as a knight and Alanna, as the daughter, is to be sent to the convent. But Alanna has no interest in being trained as a lady and she has a skill with weapons, while Thom is more interested in developing his magic (both siblings have a very strong magical Gift) and has zero coordination. They come up with the perfect plan: switch places! Can Alanna make it through training without anyone discover her secret? (Girls are not allowed to be knights.) She is tested in more ways than one when she must use the magic she fears to protect the Prince and heir.
Book 2: Done with her page years (which look nothing like Kel’s–they seem to have restructured things after Alanna’s time, largely because of her), Alanna becomes the squire for none other than Prince Jonathan. Her biggest challenge: reconciling her dislike for the Prince’s cousin, a powerful mage and next in line for the throne, Duke Roger, with the fact that everyone, but her, loves him. Including Prince Jonathan, who will not hear a word against him. Plus, though she wishes to escape her magic, that becomes increasingly impossible when a Goddess reveals that she has plans for Alanna.
Book 3: Finally a knight, Alanna has revealed that she is a girl to the court and decides to put some distance between herself and the capital while everyone gets used to the idea. Besides, all she’s ever wanted was to be a knight and have adventures. Alanna finds herself in the south where she is forced into a duel to the death in order to be accepted by the Bazhir, but this is the least of the troubles she must face. The Bazhir have their own prejudices against girls, which Alanna has no patience for. She brings with her a whirlwind of change and with it, she helps forge a new alliance for Prince Jonathan’s rule.
Book 4: Alanna decides once and for all to prove herself as a worthy knight (despite having already becoming famous for some of her deeds) by recovering the long lost Dominion Jewel, a powerful jewel that can do enormous good in the right hands. She plans to get it for King Jonathan’s use in order to secure the kingdom of Tortall. She must also make peace with herself, accept love that she’s been hiding from, bring a Princess to Tortall, and defeat an old enemy. Things never are easy for the God’s chosen.
While I don’t really see much evidence of the “famous temper” that Alanna the Lioness has, I found myself enjoying this story just as much as Pierce’s other books. It’s interesting to look at Alanna and Kel together (the only female knights of their time), both incredibly determined and strong. The two must overcome very different challenges–Alanna’s stemming from her fear of magic and love and hiding her gender, Kel’s stemming from her fear of heights and the fact that everyone knows she’s a girl and many don’t want her to succeed.
It’s nice to finally know all of Alanna’s story and I definitely find her to be my favorite Tortall world character. Through all the other serieses (how do you pluralize that?), I look forward to the small glimpses we get of her and wish for more.