Alanna: The First Adventure
by Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness #1
Publication Date: 01 September 1983
Simon Pulse, Mass Market Paperback, 274 pages
From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.
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: Disguised as a girl, 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.
I started Alanna: The First Adventure expecting something really different from YA books nowadays and I can gladly say I’m far from disappointed. In case you didn’t know, this book had first been published in 1983, definitely the oldest novel I’ve read in the past 2 years (don’t judge, I’m currently not into classics). Magical, well-paced and filled with wonderful characters, this entire book had been one exciting adventure!
The story follows Alanna of Trebond, a girl who dreamed to be a maiden warrior, through her years of being a page while on the path to knighthood. In her time as a page, she fought through bullies, sorcerous viruses, and plenty of other struggles, learning important lessons while at it. Although her age in this first installment spanned from 11 to 14—not the typical age range for YA protagonists—she had in no way been inferior due to her young age. In fact, Alanna has hopped straight onto my list of favorite characters.
Determined, headstrong, hardworking and undeniably loyal, I loved how Pierce had taken the best qualities a knight could have and incorporated it into a girl instead. It was admirable seeing how Alanna secretly defied societal norms, and even her own doubts, in order to achieve her goals; the resolve she had in becoming the best page despite being the underdog had been truly impressive. Honestly, I kind of wished I had read this book when I was between 11 to 14-years-old because Alanna would have been an amazing inspiration to preteen/early teen me!
Also, I’ve just started watching Game of Thrones and can’t help but compare Alanna to Arya Stark. They are both so young yet brave and filled with personality—the sort of kids you just know will grow up to be someone.
The story mostly touched on world-building and introducing us to the characters as it had been pretty short and there had only been about two explosively impactful events. However, it came off alright because you would probably be so taken by Alanna’s wonderful character and her little adventures during her time with her friends (both noble and not-so-noble), you don’t give everything else much thought.
In case any of you are wondering, there’s no romance at all in Alanna: The First Adventure. I will admit it’s been ages since I’ve read a YA book without romance and it was quite refreshing. I have heard, however, that it would occur in the later books and I can’t say I’m not happy to hear that, I’ve already guessed who Alanna might end up with—it’s pretty obvious once you’ve scanned through the numerous guys in her life disguised as one.
All in all, this is a pretty short and sweet review for a short and sweet book. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the fantasy genre who are not looking for something too heavy (like most fantasy novels are). I definitely can’t wait to start on the second installment, In the Hand of the Goddess, and see where it Alanna next!