Synopsis for Alanna: The First Adventure taken from Goodreads:
And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.
But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.
Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins - one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.
This series was my first introduction to Tamora Pierce and I was immediately hooked. It's full of action, self-discovery, romance, politics, and a confident young heroine that I adored from the start. This series is fun and fantastic, but like every series, it has a couple problems:
- STRONG CHARACTERS - The characters in this series are fantastic. You have tough, strong Alanna, who you get to watch grow up and figure out who she is. You have Prince Jonathan, who is compassionate and kind and really wonderful. And you have George, who is so difficult to explain, yet such a lovable person in spite of (and maybe sometimes because of) his thievery. The characters are all well-built and extremely distinct - and you can connect with them easily.
- ROMANCE ISN'T AT THE FOREFRONT - While there is some romance in this series, it takes a backseat to the action. For some people, this isn't ideal, but for me, it was a plus. Alanna got to learn about herself and have adventures without losing herself to a young and far-too-passionate romance. That being said, there is romance in this book. And it's adorable and sweet and keeps you guessing. Even when Alanna grows up, the romance feels realistic and there's even some very matter-of-fact sex positivity in this series - Alanna can enjoy sex without it being all consuming AND without being regarded as a slut. It's wonderful.
- INCREASINGLY COMPLEX PLOT - The first book is mostly about Alanna learning to be a knight and to pretend to be a boy. As she grows up, the plot thickens and the books get more complicated and intriguing as Alanna learns more. What starts as a coming-of-age story gradually raises the stakes until Alanna's work is far more important than just learning to fence.
- WRITTEN FOR YOUNGER AUDIENCES - I read this series as an adult and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I was definitely not the target audience. For younger readers, a simple and clear voice will be a plus. For me, it was sometimes hard to take myself as seriously since this book is very obviously not written for adults. Start your young fantasy readers on it now or read it together - they'll love it.
Have you read this series? What pros and cons would you add? What similar series have you read?