Trickster's Choice

by Tamora Pierce

With the 1983 publication of Alanna: the First Adventure (Atheneum), readers... read more

With the 1983 publication of Alanna: the First Adventure (Atheneum), readers first met the memorable character Alanna, a strong heroine who poses as a boy in order to become a knight. Her story continued throughout the four volumes of “The Song of the Lioness Quartet” and gave Alanna a solid seat in the pantheon of commanding female protagonists, both within the fantasy genre and beyond. Twenty years later, Tamora Pierce delights Alanna’s legions of fans and welcomes a new audience with this introduction of Aly, Alanna’s 16-year-old daughter. In a deliciously satisfying case of “the shoe’s on the other foot now,” Aly pursues her dreams of becoming a field agent spy despite her mother’s objections. Often absent from home in her demanding job as King’s Champion, Alanna is frustrated by Aly’s choices and seeming lack of direction. When they are together, mother and daughter often clash. As Aly says, “You try being the daughter of a legend. It’s a great deal like work.” Behaving like the adolescent she is, Aly plans an unauthorized solo sailing trip, rationalizing that her parents will be pleased to welcome her back upon her return. Of course, nothing goes as planned, as shortly after setting out on her journey, Aly is captured by pirates and transported to a distant island, where she is sold as a slave to a noble family. Plenty of opportunity for spying soon presents itself, and while Aly discovers that she has a natural gift for the work, she also learns some hard lessons about growing up and the consequences of her impetuous behavior. Along with political intrigue and action-packed battles, Aly’s adventure includes a manipulative trickster god who intervenes at moments of crisis and her budding romance with Nawat, a crow who can assume human form. Nawat’s attempts to woo Aly with offerings of choice grubs and other avian-minded courting strategies provide prime moments of comedy. Despite a dense opening section explaining the story’s setting, this fast-paced tale of adventure is readily accessible to newcomers to Pierce’s fantasy realm. (Ages 12–16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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