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Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce - Review

Title: Alanna: The First Adventure
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure, Junior Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Release Date: 1983
Format: Paperback
Pages: 216
Links: Goodreads, Author's Website
Purchase: Booktopia, Book Depository, Angus & Robertson

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've always considered Tamora Pierce to be one of my favourite authors, but funnily enough I can only remember reading three of her books: Tricksters Choice, Tricksters Queen and Terrier. I don't know why I never made a more concentrated effort to read more by her as a teenager, but I finally decided to knuckle down and read all the Tortall and Circle books in 2017.

Alanna: The First Adventure is the first of the Song of the Lioness quartet and is decidedly junior fiction. When we first meet the protagonist, Alanna, she is just 11 years old, and we follow her story through to age 14.

It is a very short book, and fast paced, dedicating most of its pages to world building and establishing characters and relationships. The real adventure part of the story doesn't come until the very end.

Alanna is a very plucky, stubborn and relatable character that you can't help but admire. She does come off as a little perfect at times, but I think that can be expected from the hero of junior fiction.

When we first meet Alanna at age 11, she has that pre-teen arrogance that I remember having myself at that age. She grew up being the best at certain things for her age, and so she gets a nasty shock when she arrives at the kings court and realizes how much she'll have to work and learn to achieve her dreams of becoming a female knight.

Over the next four years we see her struggle to overcome the difficulties of being the 'little guy' as well as the insecurities of secretly being a girl. It touches briefly on her getting her first period, and finding a mother figure to help her with the aspects of being a girl she doesn't want to acknowledge. I wish it had touched on this a bit more, as I think that addressing those sorts of things in junior fiction are a really great way to make young girls more comfortable with the situation and perhaps broaching the subject with their own mother (figure).

The friendships she makes are very fun to read, and it is very easy to learn to love everyone in her group. It's definitely the focus over romance, though there are hints that promise it in the future.

One character I loved in particular was George, the King of Thieves.

We interrupt this review to announce: I was googling George's age and got MAJOR spoilers ahhhhhhh! Good ones, but ahhhh! Damn you Google!

Moving on. George is such a wonderful, complex character who embraces the nitty gritty of his lifestyle and is not ashamed of it. He may be a real bad boy, but baby he's a real good man (yes, his theme song, 100%). I'm sorry, I got a little bit fan girly there. Moving on!

I've covered pretty much everything I can without giving away too much of the plot, so I think I'll finish off by saying I really enjoyed Alanna: The First Adventure as the introduction to a fantastic fantasy adventure, but will only be giving it 3.5 stars as it didn't quite have that oomph that really sinks its claws into you. It just paws at you enough to get you interested in picking up the next.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all in my next post :]

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