Book Review; Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure

Posted August 30, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Middle-Grade readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review; Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure

Alanna: The First Adventure


Tamora Pierce

It is part of the , series and is a fantasy that was published by Simon Pulse on January 1, 2005 and has 274 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include In the Hand of the Goddess, Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Lioness Rampant, Wild Magic, Trickster's Choice, Trickster's Queen, Wolf-Speaker, Emperor Mage, Realms of the Gods, First Test, Page, Squire, Lady Knight, Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff, Daja's Book, Sandry's Book, Tris's Book, Briar's Book, Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire, Shatterglass, The Will of the Empress, Melting Stones, Battle Magic

First in the Song of the Lioness fantasy adventure series for middle-grade readers. The series revolves around Alanna Trebond, a ten-year-old, who passionately wants to become a knight. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Tortall books on my website.

In 2013, Alanna: The First Adventure was nominated for the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature.

My Take

Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series owes a great debt to Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. I had to keep checking the cover title and author because, for the first few pages, I couldn’t understand why the culture, characters, and place names were so different while the feel of the writing and the adventures were so similar.

The story is mostly of “Alan” and her arrival in the city, making friends, the life and routine of a royal page with the added ordeal of bullying…the unexpected and unwanted surprise of puberty.

I enjoyed this story very much. It grants children greater responsibility and independence than we know in our own world while teaching them how to wield such tasks with conscientiousness and consideration. The realities of the human character are presented well with only a slight exaggeration. It is a moral tale in a fantasy setting.

The Story

It is custom amongst the gentry to send their children off to a type of boarding school: the First Daughter of the convent trains girls in the womanly arts before they go off to Court to find a husband while boys are under the eye of the Duke of Naxen in Corus, the capitol city of Tortoll, where they learn to become Knights.

But Alanna comes up with a plan whereby Alan of Trebond’s twin “sons” will follow the path in which each will excel.

Then the Sweating Sickness strikes both townspeople and the palace. Weakening every healer before striking the person Alanna comes to believe was the target all along.

The Characters

Alanna Trebond has come up with a plan to solve her and her brother’s problem. Thom Trebond is Alanna’s twin brother. He prefers learning about magic and hates the more physical sports, which Alanna adores while fearing her own gifts. Their father insists on sending them away to school but not to learn that which each both desires. Maude is the family healer. Coram Smythesson had been a foot soldier with the army 20 years ago before retiring to Trebond as a sergeant-at-arms. Even saved Duke Gareth’s life once during the Battle of Joyous Forest. Now he’s Alan’s retainer in Corus while s/he is training to become a knight.

Prince Jonathan becomes Alan’s friend from the first when he interrupts Ralon of Malven bullying Alan on her first day. Her friends include Gareth (son of Duke Gareth), Raoul, Francis, and Alex.

George is the king of the thieves whom Alanna meets on her very first time in Corus, the capital city of Tortoll. Stefan is a stableboy at the palace. And one of George’s men.

Sir Myles of Olau teaches the pages and squires history, making it come alive for them and he’s taken a special interest in young Alan as well as providing her with a magical weapon while they are exploring his estate. Duke Baird is the master healer. Duke Roger will be teaching classes on magic.

The Cover and Title

The cover has an innocence to it. Her red hair shorn, Alan is wearing a full-skirted over-tunic over a white shirt with blouson sleeves and a sword belted to her waist. She stands in her red tights as she holds the golden-haired and white, curly-maned Moonlight’s red leather reins. The yard in which both Alan and Moonlight stand has the most beautiful fence of panels and arches keeping the shadowy city of Corus out. The side pillars are glorious with their golden carved, twining vines and stylized creatures supported by winged griffins facing each other, topped by yet more carvings — a reversing row of snail-like scrolls with a braid separating it from the hearts and leaves carved at the pillars’ very top. A fanciful sign for Tamora Pierce’s name is held between the pillars while a similar sign proclaims the series at the bottom.

The title is all about Alanna: The First Adventure she experiences pursuing what she loves.