“Lioness Rampant” by Tamora Pierce

Available on Amazon and at you local bookstore.
Available on Amazon and at you local bookstore.

A quick summary:

The Song of the Lioness series continues with Alanna and Coram in Maren, a country to the east of Tortall. Her purpose there is to find a friend of Myles’, who can translate a map she was given by the nameless woman who died in the last book. She discovers that the map points the way to the Roof of the World, where the Dominion Jewel is kept. The Dominion Jewel is a powerful object that only a true leader can wield. Alanna decides to embark on an adventure to claim the Dominion Jewel for Tortall to prove her worth as a lady-knight and to further fortify Tortall.

But before she begins this adventure, she meets a dragon. No, not one with pointy teeth and fiery breath but one just as deadly. She meets Liam, a member of the Shang warriors. He is called the Shang Dragon, “the best of the best,” and is lethal both with weapons and weaponless. Immediately Alanna is drawn to him and it’s lust at first sight. The Lioness and the Dragon engage in a stormy affair that’s short-lived due to their stark differences, stubbornness, and Liam’s fear of magic. After hearing of their plans, Liam decides to accompany Alanna and Coram to the Roof. Along the way, they meet Buri, a K’miri warrior, who accompanies Thayet, the exiled princess of Sarain. They both travel with children, fugitives of Sarain’s civil war.

The group arrives in a city called Rachia, where the children are allowed to stay at the Temple of the Mother of Waters but Thayet’s status as an exiled princess places the temple at risk so she’s turned away. Buri and Thayet instead travel with Alanna’s crew to the Roof of the World and later to Tortall. At the Roof of the World, Alanna battles an ancient god called Chitral, who was so amused by Alanna that he allowed her to take the Dominion Jewel. Unfortunately (or not), this battle causes a rift in the Lioness’ relationship with the Dragon since Alanna allowed Faithful to place a sleeping spell on Liam so he wouldn’t prevent her from going after the jewel in the blizzard.

Shortly after her battle, Alanna decides to head for Corus. She had a nagging feeling that she was needed at home. When she gets there, she discovers that her arch-nemesis Roger, Duke of Conte, was raised from the dead by her brother. Thom, though, does not fare well from this act and seems to be burning up. Meanwhile, George’s life is in jeopardy as Claw, a thief, makes an attempt for the Rogue’s throne. And Jonathan is busy trying to manage the kingdom after his father’s suicide, which occurred shortly after his mother’s death. Alanna and her friends try to rectify these problems. In the end, Jonathan gets the jewel, marries Thayet, and is able to keep the country together, Alanna finally commits to George, and a bunch of insignificant characters die: Thom, Roger, Liam, Faithful.

My reaction:

I am a huge fan of the Song of the Lioness series and a big fan of Tamora Pierce. As much as I enjoyed reading this installment, which is longer than the previous ones, a few things nagged at me. The first was Alanna’s relationship with Liam and the fact that it conveniently sizzles out in time for her to dash into George’s arms upon her return to Corus. For some reason, I wanted it to be a bit more complicated. Still, I am happy that they broke apart. Liam stifles Alanna’s freedom to be herself. He is all about control and Alanna’s tendency to change throws him off. I did not see the point of them entering into a relationship. What does the story gain from it? What does Alanna learn from it other than Shang fighting techniques, which she could still learn if she were a friend of Liam’s? It’s just pointless and that’s what annoys me.

The only way that I see this relationship functioning in the story is when I compare it to Alanna’s previous relationships. Jonathan wanted her to simply be a woman and leave the shield behind. He wanted someone who would evoke interest and act as a symbol for his disregard for rules. George wants Alanna simply for who she is. He wants a companion, friend, and lover. (Of course, Alanna takes forever to go with this choice.) Liam, however, is intrigued by the idea of a lady-knight and wants to tame her, or so it seems. So I guess this relationship is included to show another possible path for Alanna, which we know she would not walk on. It’s simply not her style. We really could have done without it.

The other thing that nagged me was the ending when we learn that Faithful is dead. Since he has been around for much of the story and has served as Alanna’s confidant and adviser, his death should of evoked a strong emotion from the readers. (It didn’t happen for me.) But I guess that did not happen since there is much we do not know about him, which I am surprised Alanna was not curious to find out. I believe this is why I did not grieve with Alanna for him. He was not a full character and thus not really there. He was simply a voice that nagged at Alanna and offered advice every now and then. Just a conscience. The Dragon and Thom also die but the Dragon could have been omitted from the start and Thom was hardly around anyway. Of course, Alanna kills Roger again which, after the fight with Chitral, didn’t stand out to me. He should of stayed gone the first time but I do like that it is her twin, her opposite, who raised Roger from the dead.

Despite this, Lioness Rampant was a good read. My favorite part, of course, is when Alanna battles Chitral. She had to use every technique she learned throughout the years to fight him. And I like to believe that she had to be wholly Alanna, the lady-knight, to succeed in that battle. She hates the cold and had no idea what it is she would have to fight to win the jewel, but she was not deterred. Alanna faced both her fear and the unknown to reach her goal. And by the end of the book, there is no question that she deserves to be a lady-knight.

<- The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (book 3)


5 thoughts on ““Lioness Rampant” by Tamora Pierce

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