If you like fantasy and have not yet read anything by Tamora Pierce, I suggest you run to the nearest bookstore and stock up. All of her books are fantastic, and they all feature fantastic female characters. For now, though, let’s focus on Song of the Lioness, a series of four young adult books.
The Song of the Lioness quartet is about a girl named Alanna who dreamed of becoming a knight. The problem was, in the world of Tortall, girls couldn’t be knights. So what does Alanna do?
She switches places with her twin brother and goes off to train to be a knight anyway.
Alanna is a fierce character who carves out her own destiny and fights long and hard to achieve her goals. She doesn’t yield to any stereotypes about women and rises to face every challenge she is met with.
The Song of the Lioness is a story about a girl rewriting the rules of the world she lives in. She does this by becoming a knight when, by all rights, she shouldn’t have been able to. In doing so, she opens up the future of knighthood for other women as well. Song of the Lioness about forcing change by being so great at what you do that no one can say no to you on the grounds that you’re a girl. It’s about perseverance and passion.
It’s also about friendship, love, and loyalty. In her time training to be a knight, Alanna becomes close friends with the prince of Tortall, as well as several others, including George Cooper, the “king of thieves”. This is all, however, while having to hide the fact that she is, in actuality, a girl. When she starts to make enemies as well as friends, things get very scary for Alanna. This book is about growing up, about learning things about yourself that help you become who you are meant to be. It’s about sacrifice and loss and learning from those things.
Naturally, there is criticism of the book as well. Some people argue that, between her skill as a knight and her extremely powerful magical Gift, Alanna is something of a Mary Sue. Having personally met Tamora Pierce, I know for a fact that Alanna was in no way based on the author herself, but some still argue that her incredible abilities, as well as her purple eyes and flame-red hair, qualify her for the title. Leaving the topic of whether or not calling someone a Mary Sue is a valid criticism at all for another time, if Alanna is a Mary Sue, she’s an extremely well-written one.
All in all, it’s a great series of books with a great female protagonist. I highly recommend it, in addition to all of Tamora Pierce’s other spectacular books.