Author: Tamora Pierce
When twins Alanna and Thom are sent off for training–Thom to court to learn to be a knight, and Alanna to the convent to train as a lady sorceress–neither is at all pleased. So Alanna, in her usual take-charge manner, decides they will switch places; Thom will receive training in the sorcery he loves, and Alanna will disguise herself as a boy and learn to be a knight. What follows is several years of excruciating work, delicate courtly interactions, and careful hiding of her true identity on Alanna’s part. However, as she presses on, she does gain impressive skills, becoming not only one of the best pages in the court but also gaining the close friendship of the prince Jonathan and his companions. Indeed, with her determination and impertinence, Alanna seems destined to go far in her life.
Alanna: The First Adventure is a wonderful beginning to Pierce’s quartet featuring Alanna. The story is solid, immersive, and suspenseful, featuring a wonderful group of characters. I appreciate that it includes a broad variety of personalities and walks of life, all of which are richly developed and full of individuality. Alanna is, naturally, the most fully developed, and I find it interesting that you see her most fully through the comments her friends make about her even though the story is written from her perspective. It’s like she doesn’t really see herself at all, and others have a totally different perspective on her than she herself does. It makes for an interesting feel to the story. The plot is also quite good–mostly a court-based school/training story showing a lot of Alanna’s growing up and developing friendships at court. I’m really looking forward to where the future volumes of this story take her–she has huge potential! I would definitely recommend Alanna: The First Adventure to anyone who likes “knights and court” sorts of stories, fantasies, or just good stories with well-developed characters.