Alanna: the First Adventure is a wonderful bildungsroman about a girl who wants to become a knight. Since she lives in a medieval-like society, such things are forbidden. Luckily, she has a twin brother with whom she can switch places. Alanna switches with her brother Thom who wants to study to become a great sorcerer and their plan goes off without a hitch since they have a father who’s too caught up in his work to care much about his children. With the help of their village healing woman, Maude, and a reluctant Coram, the sergeant-at-arms, the twins are able to continue on their chosen paths.
A girl she may be but that does not mean she is unable to keep up with the boys in her training. She is easily accepted as one of them despite her dispute with a bully and she proves herself to be their equal as she works tirelessly to become a knight. Alanna’s body does get in the way at times, such as the growth of her breasts (she ties them down with a band) and her period popping up but luckily, again, she has made friends with the King of Thieves, the amiable George, who helps her in such tough situations. She seems to have everyone on her side, even the gods. In the first few years of her training, Alanna has done some great feats for her age. She heals the Prince, who is a great friend of hers, when he succumbed to a sorcerous fever, she got a magical sword, and she defeated an ancient power with the help of her prince. She isn’t chummy with everyone, though, and is wary of the Duke of Conté, the prince’s cousin, who she suspects of making a move for the crown. He is also a great sorcerer.
I love, love, love this story. Like Harry Potter, I return to it time after time, re-reading it to see if I can again capture how I felt when I first read the story. Alanna is a simple one. It’s composed mostly of short sentences and descriptions are minimal, which makes for a quick read. It’s one of those books that you can read in one sitting, if you have the time to spare. Pierce only gives the necessary descriptions, the ones relevant to highlighting something about the characters that she wants to stick out. Like how George’s room is clean and simple with few ornate items, which shows that he is not greedy and overindulgent despite being the King of Thieves. He doesn’t try to stick out. I appreciate this style because the story is not overworked and tedious to read due to long, extraneous descriptions. I like that Pierce makes me fill in the blanks. She doesn’t try to describe everything for me.
Overall, it’s an excellent read. The story does have its faults, which I think are minor compared to the great satisfaction and wistfulness that I feel when I complete it (great emotions to have after reading a book). I recommend this book all the time, if I know the person is willing to read a young adult novel. I enjoy Alanna. I can’t help but admire her stubbornness and courage. She is hilarious and inspiring—she never allows anything to defeat her. And she does not try to be something she is not. It’s a good read. Check it out.
- Why I Thank YA Lit, a Post about Tamora Pierce: (splitlipmagazine.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: Alanna: The First Adventure (thebignerdofthree.wordpress.com)
- At long last, an update (operationya.wordpress.com)
- An Open Letter to Tamora Pierce (showertimecontemplations.wordpress.com)
- Why so few Female lead roles in YA fantasy? (armenpogharian.wordpress.com)
- Love Triangles in Young Adult Fiction: A Brief and Sordid History (themodernmanuscript.wordpress.com)