Rummanah Aasi
  I have been told to read the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce for quite sometime. I was told that I would absolutely love the heroine, the action, and the romance. I also had to meet this mysterious George Cooper and Prince Jonathan that seemed to win so many hearts. I read all four books in the span of a week during the summer and I couldn't decide how to review them as they all connect to one another. I thought the best way to avoid spoilers would be to review them as a series instead of individual books. The order of the books are: Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and the Lioness Rampant.

Image from Bookbuzzz as found on
General description of the series: Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys. When she and her twin brother, Thom, come to age they must uphold their traditional occupations. Alanna must learn the art of magic while her brother becomes a knight. When they both realize that they truly wish is the opposite, they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, 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. 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.

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed the Song of the Lioness Quartet. I know that the middle school me would have devoured these books had I knew they existed instead of being in the constant haze of the formulaic YA horror Fear Street series by R.L. Stine.
   The heroine, Alanna, is someone you can admire for her pluckiness, determination and bravery. In more ways than one, she is a revolutionary character. Written in the early 1980s, a strong female protagonist written for young adults and children is not always easy to find. Simply put Alanna is vocal and ahead of her time period. She is is a girl with a simple dream: to become a knight. She doesn't care that her dream is deemed impossible in the eyes of her society. She refuses to abandon her vision and dons on the disguise as a boy and sets out to fulfill it.
  Though the book is filled with adventure, quests, and prophecies, at its very heart it is Alanna's coming of age journey from a young girl to a woman. While undertaking grueling lessons on swordplay and self defense, she goes through puberty. She makes incredible strides in accomplishments, but is still wrecked with self doubt that plagues us all. I loved how in the first book, Alanna: The First Adventure, Alanna realizes that being a knight isn't a simple task. She falls down and gets hurt repeatedly, but she continues to struggle and jump through hurdle after hurdle. I was a bit disappointed that after the first book, her journey just seems a bit too easy for her as she discovers hidden talent and powers, but I still rooted for her.
   For the romantic reader, romance does play a big part of the story, however, it does not overshadow the characters nor plot of the books but rather it helps develop the characters and moves the plot forward. Alanna has many suitors in the book and she takes her time finding out who is right for her and who will love her just the way she is. The two suitors that stood out to me the most are Prince Jonathan, every girl's dream of a handsome and charming prince, and George Cooper, the roguish and equally charming King of Thieves. I have to say that George stole my heart right away when he first appeared and I've been on his team throughout the series.
   The books are funny, exciting, and engaging. It has a wide cast of memorable characters, some of whom I would have love to see more fleshed out. I was disappointed on the lack of complexity regarding the quartet's plot arc. The villain is very easy to identify and it was a bit annoying to have all the characters finally come to the same conclusion that you did a few books ago. Nonetheless, I would strongly recommend this series especially to readers looking for an unapologetic strong female who believes she can do anything like a man and have the same rights as him.

Rating of the series: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Though regulated off the page, there is discussion of female puberty and sex does occur though it is not described in any details. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this series try: Seven Kingdoms Trilogy by Kristin Cashore, Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    How have I never heard of this series Rummanah? I think George will likely steal my heart as well, I will always choose a King of Thieves in fiction over a sweet and charming prince, I can't help it! These sound like such fun and entertaining books despite the easily identified villain, so I'm adding them to my list:)

  2. Candace Says:

    I love fantasy! As a teen I don't recall reading any so I guess its something I discovered as an adult. Its a shame cause I bet this was the kind of book I would have loved if I had tried. I have only truer to read a couple older fantasy books and I didn't care for them so I suppose that's a concern but I will watch for these at goodwill and the used bookstore so I can give them a try!

  3. I have not heard of this series and it is nice to discover another fantastic MG series, there just doesn't seem to be enough of them. I am so glad that this was a great series for you. I will have to remember to keep them on my radar for my daughter.

  4. danya Says:

    Yay, I'm glad to hear you liked these, Rummanah! Since they *were* written way back in the 1980s when I recommend them now I often tell people to keep in mind that what might seem like YA fantasy cliches actually *weren't* back then, and that Tamora Pierce was breaking new ground in some ways with these books. These were actually THE books that got me into YA fantasy (before then I'd mostly read realistic fiction), back when I was about 11 years old or so. I have no idea how I'd react if I read them for the first time now (no doubt I would be a much more critical reader) but for a good part of my teenage years Tamora Pierce's books were some of my favourites, and I think I'll always have a nostalgic fondness for this series in particular. I'd also recommend her Immortals series :)

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