Alanna: The First Adventure

Posted: January 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
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I know I promised reviews would come slower now that Christmas break is over. I know that I had planned that with the end of vacations it would take me between one week and a half to two weeks and a half to read a book and write a review about it. I blame Tamora Pierce. Also the book was short. I promise.

Strong Points: The characters, the setting of the novel, the descriptions

Weak points: very predictable, the ending feels rushed

Alanna: The First Adventure is the first book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, a book series for youngsters written by Tamora Pierce. It tells us the story of young Alanna of Trebond, a young noblewoman whose dream is to become a knight. Dressing up as a boy see travels to court with the hope to train as one, stepping into a world full of adventure and extraordinary characters.

Probably the first thing a reader learns when he picks this book is that Tamora Pierce has a knack for descriptions. The author is able to entrap the reader into this book just by telling you what Alanna is seeing at each moment. Her description of the market when the main characters arrives to court for the same time is a real wonder that shall pull you into the pages as you read on; full of people, colors and sensations, the picture appears vividly in our imagination and making us feel, for a moment, as if we really were among those people. The character’s description is also rich and precise, an art that in my opinion is disappearing now that the authors just seem to stop in the most striking features of its character and then move on quickly to the action.

Alanna: The First Adventure surprises us for the richness of its setting. The author has managed to create an amazing society which will capture the reader’s attention for its simplicity but at the same time for its plausibility. Old hatreds, social classes and different cultures find their way into these pages, coming alive before our eyes. The rules of the knights’ training and how the academy is described can’t help but remind us of Hogwarts, but here is the thing: The book was written in 1983. One thing the reader must take into account is that when Tamora Pierce wrote this novel, it hadn’t been done before. We are seeing the real deal, the original base that may have inspired our beloved Harry Potter and other books of such nature that we may have read as youngsters and believe you me, this original version has little to envy to those who came after.

The strongest point of the novel is, undoubtedly, its characters. Alanna surprises us for her depths and inner conflicts. She is a girl who considers herself inferior to men and who needs to prove herself again and again just to be able to feel good at what she is doing; her inferiority complex also affects the way she relates to her friends and teachers, being unable to accept favors or take the easy road. Other character that surprises is George Cooper, the King of Thieves, probably the shadiest of the lot; it is surprising to find a character that makes crime his business in a book for such a young audience, but he is a breath of fresh air and helps to make the story even more interesting. The rest of the characters are not as deep, some of them being just the embodiment of a role, such as sir Myles, who represents the fatherly figure, Jonathan, the all-too-trustful prince who Alanna must protect, Coram, the loyal manservant, or the duke of Naxen, the stern but goodhearted tutor. But even if this characters usually don’t go beyond that which they embody they still hold a certain allure for the readers.

Sadly, the book is also very predictable. The reader knows what is to happen almost from the beginning. There are no surprises in the narrative, no sudden twists that make us stare at the pages to see if we rad correctly. The villain is known almost from the beginning, giving us the impression that everyone is a total fool except for Alanna and you can tell who is to discover Alanna’s secret as soon as they are introduced. We can’t forget that this is a book for young audience but I feel that a little bit of mystery would have been appreciated.

Tamora Pierce makes a good job building the climax toward the ending. The small pieces of information Jonathan and Alanna receive from the other characters, the description of the Black City and its reflection on the flames whenever Alanna casts a spell. We really want to learn who or what is in the Black City, but sadly it all resolved fast and undetailed in the last few pages, leaving the reader with a certain feeling of disappointment.

Alanna: The first Adventure is an enjoyable book to read that will relax the reader for its simplicity and alluring storyline. You will get fond of the characters very quickly and will be thirsty to know what will happen to them in the next pages, making it a very difficult book to put down. I would also recommend this book for those parents trying to get their children to read, for I think it is an amazing introduction to literature in general and fantasy in particular.


¡Hasta la Próxima!

  1. Ciara Darren says:

    I came on Tamora Pierce when I was a teenager and continued reading into college. As an author she developed immensely and I enjoyed her later books as an adult. You make very relevant points about the simplicity of the plot. This is probably the “youngest” book she wrote, though Protector of the Small, if my memory serves me right as its been several years, was also a little more simple. If you enjoyed the character of the King of Thieves, you have a few more books you will definitely enjoy. Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen were more challenging further into this world. I encourage young women to read these books as positive depictions of young women in fantasy but turns out sometimes its the guys that enjoyed them more! You never know. Thanks for bringing some attention back to this series. I don’t know the author, just been a fan for years and made some good memories with other girls in my life.

    • I appreciate the recomendations, I will definetly read the rest of Tamora Pierce’s work, I must admit that I personally loved this book.
      Thank you for the comment and a pleasure to have brought back good memories. I shall keep an eye out for Skere, looking foward to read it.

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