Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to the Future: The Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce

Welcome to Back to the Future, a feature at YAA where we revisit young adult books from back when we were well, young adults.  Sometimes we'll be reading these books for the first time, sometimes we'll be rereading to compare how our adult selves interpret the book and sometimes, we'll be doing a bit of both.  

Somehow, Noelle completely missed Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series the first time around.  Is she now too old to wear an Alanna is My Homegirl shirt? 
Only one way to find out---To the DeLorean!

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Summary from Tamora Pierce's website:
This story, all four books, is about the making of a hero. It's also about a very stubborn girl.
Alanna of Trebond wants to be a knight of the realm of Tortall, in a time when girls are forbidden to be warriors. Rather than give up her dream, she and her brother--who wants to be a mage, not a knight--switch places. She becomes Alan; Thom becomes a student wizard in the school where she would have learned to be a lady.
The quartet is about her struggle to achieve her goals and to master weapons, combat, polite behavior, her magic, her temper, and even her own heart. It is about friendships--with the heir to the throne, the King of Thieves, a wise and kindly knight--and her long struggle against a powerful enemy mage.
She sees battle as a squire and as a knight, lives among desert people and tries to rescue an independent princess. Singled out by a goddess, accompanied by a semi-divine cat with firm opinions, somehow she survives her many adventures to become a most unlikely legend.

Present Day Noelle
Not only am I not too old for an Alanna is My Homegirl t-shirt, I want one for Christmas.

Quick peek at circa 1992 Noelle:  *muppet flailing*

Back to Present Day Noelle: Young adult Noelle would have looooved this series and I'm still surprised I managed to miss it the first time around.  The Song of the Lioness would have felt right at home on my shelf beside Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.  Nevertheless, I'm glad I finally got the chance to remedy my oversight.  I greatly enjoyed Alanna's journey. 

I loved that although Alanna was naturally talented, she also depended on hard work and practice to overcome her deficiencies.  Mini-trials and tribulations built to serious battles, showcasing just how far Alanna grew throughout the series.  Alanna had to work hard for her accomplishments which helped balance out the Everyone Loves Alanna vibe that developed later in the series--- not that I could blame them.  I loved Alanna, too. 

Another great thing about the series is it's handling of romantic relationships.  Like real life, the heroine was allowed multiple romances that had their own natural expiration dates.  There wasn't any of the My High School Boyfriend is My Soulmate crap that can show up in other YAs.  Relationships began and ended for a variety of reasons with no talk of destiny, fate or tragedy.  It was very refreshing.  

Unfortunately, I read this series at the beginning of the summer and took all my notes for this review on my now extinct cell phone so this review is much shorter than I intended.  (If only I had a real Delorean to go back in time and back up my phone!) Still I remember enough to say with confidence: Alanna is definitely my homegirl for life.  I can't wait to read Tamora Pierce's other Tortall series.

Present Day Noelle's Ratings:
Alanna: The First Adventure: 3.5/5 stars
In the Hand of the Goddess: 4/5 stars
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: 4/5 stars
Lioness Rampant: 5/5 stars

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