This month's review concerns another novel of the Young Adult genre. I've never been too keen on this genre, but for when I was a child, but Tamora Pierce is a find--Fantasy, even if the main character is an eight year old girl. And yet, this is so typical even in so-called mainstream Fantasy for a grown audience, right down to the invented country, the sometimes vivid explanation of the characters' physical changes and trials, and girl-wishes-to-become-a-knight plot, that it felt no different than anything else I've read. This is not Harry Potter, to be sure, but it is very good, and something that I think even adult readers, even if jaded a little on the whole fantasy genre, will find compelling. Do read on...
Alanna: The First Adventure is another fine YA Fantasy novel by the talented Tamora Pierce. Being the first installment of her Lioness Quartet, this novel concerns Alanna of Trebond. Alanna's father has brought up she and her twin brother Thom alone, yet he seems to care nothing for them so much as he cares for his books. Therefore, Alanna and Thom are taken care of, more often than not, by their father's man, Coram and by the local healing woman, Maude. It is she who discovers Alanna has a calling and affinity for magic and the Goddess. It is she who encourages Alanna to use her powers of healing, rather than to neglect them. Yet Alanna has other ideas. She wishes to be a knight.
So she, Thom, and Maude hatch a ruse to make it so, and as they leave their father to begin their education, Coram takes a disguised Alanna off to the capital, while a costumed Thom heads off with Maude to the City of the Gods.
Alanna settles into her new life as Alan of Trebond, student, very well and under the close eye of Coram, but by no means does she have an easy time. Her years here will be hard ones, indeed: bullies and trials abound--even her body seems determined to betray her.
She makes friends quickly, however, among them, a crafty thief named George--King of Thieves--who comes to her aid more than once and finally convinces her that, yes, friends do go out of their way for each other without expectation of returns on their investment. She also becomes fast friends with Prince John, and comes to his aid when he falls victim to a killing fever that sweeps across the capital (sent by his cousin Duke Roger? Alanna suspects). It is to John that Alanna must finally pledge her undying fealty, with him that she faces her most unexpected challenge; it is he who learns the secret of Alan of Trebond, in that final, unbelievable battle, and promises not to betray her; and it is from him that she receives her highest honor yet.
Alanna: The First Adventure is a wonderful little story, a mix of all the things that make the Fantasy genre. It was a little slow, in parts, and some of the chapters were rather long, considering it is a Young Adult novel, but I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading Alanna's further adventures. Check it out. I think this is one everyone can enjoy.