Alanna, The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce
Tamora Pierce is an award-winning and bestselling fantasy author of young adult literature. She has written stand alone books and short stories as well as multiple series. Her first young adult novel, published in 1983, was Alanna, the First Adventure.
This story opens with Alanna and her twin brother Thom unhappy about their father’s decision to send them away for school. It’s not that they don’t want to leave home and have new experiences, it’s that they wish their father would consider what they want to do.
Alanna doesn’t want to go to a convent and learn all the boring necessities of being a lady. She wants to be a knight, a warrior maiden. And Thom really doesn’t enjoy sword fighting and battle strategy, he’d rather be a great sorcerer.
The two decide to take their fates into their own hands and switch places. With the help of two dedicated servants, Alanna heads to Duke Gareth of Naxen as “Alan of Trebond” to serve as a page while Thom goes to the City of Gods to study magic. Their negligent father is none the wiser.
Alanna pays attention and learns her lessons well. She also shows she has a strong character and doesn’t let others fight her battles. Mixed in with the lessons and sword fights are court politics, sorcery, and the continual stress of hiding her true nature from her friends. I kept expecting her secret to be revealed at every new scene — how long would the boys believe that “Alan” was just a small-framed boy with a fear of swimming with the group?
Alanna is a great role model — she embodies all the good qualities of a knight — but the book ends before she completes her training. You’ll have to keep reading the series! And don’t think just because Alanna has the makings of a hero that she’s boring. There is plenty of mischief to keep the story clipping along.
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