Flashback Friday is a weekly tradition started here at Bookshelf Fantasies, focusing on showing some love for the older books in our lives and on our shelves. If you’d like to join in, just pick a book published at least five years ago! Post your Flashback Friday pick on your blog and let us all know about that special book from your reading past and why it matters to you. Don’t forget to link up!
My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:
Alanna: The First Adventure
Book #1 in The Song of the Lioness Quartet
by Tamora Pierce
“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 allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; 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 the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.
I picked this book for today’s Flashback Friday post in honor of my wonderful daughter — happy birthday, sweetie!
Way back when, when the lovely girl was a pre-teen, the Song of the Lioness books were her absolute favorites. Who am I kidding? The books of Tamora Pierce that relate to the land of Tortall (the Alanna series as well as a few related series) are still books that she returns to — frequently — like revisiting old friends.
In Tamora Pierce’s books, a girl can grow up to be whatever she wants — but she might have to fight pretty hard to get there. Alanna sets out to become a knight, rather than fulfilling an acceptable female role in the kingdom of Tortall, and over the course of the four books in the series, we see her use her wits, her strength, and her determination to achieve her goal, obstacles be damned. It’s impressive stuff.
As a mom, I also enjoyed the books, although I admit that I was a bit taken aback as the series progressed to see how much bed-hopping was going on. It’s nothing that would be considered racy for YA, but hey, this was my 12-year-old reading it! I got over it, and we had some excellent conversations about the romantic entanglements as well as the challenges and fierceness shown by this kick-ass heroine.
For middle grade to younger YA readers, the first Alanna book is a terrific introduction to the fantasy world of Tortall. As Alanna ages over the course of the series, the remaining books venture further into more mature YA subject matter and will have greater appeal to slightly older readers. Alanna herself is a terrific lead character, sure to inspire girls for years to come. The Tortall books provide a female-positive adventure that challenges standard gender-defined roles as often seen in the fantasy genre — and they’re just really fun to read!
A quick note on looks: Over the years, Alanna has gotten a makeover. Check out the variety of cover images:
Unfortunately, the latest makeover seems to have given the books what my daughter sneeringly calls “the Twilight treatment”. See if you agree — especially the 3rd in the series. Can we say “generic teen love triangle”? According to my daughter, this is a sacrilege:
I haven’t returned to these books in the years since, and wonder how I’d like them without my “mom eyes” in place. Meanwhile, my daughter has been trying to get me to read Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series, also set in Tortall. Have you read any Tamora Pierce books? Which are your favorites? And do you think they work for adult readers?
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- Leave your link below
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- … and discover some terrific hidden gems to add to your TBR piles!
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