Author: Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, vol. 3
Having gained her knighthood, defeated her archenemy, revealed her true gender, and quite possibly saved the lives of the entire royal family, you would think Alanna would settle down into a halfway normal court life. But of course, that would be too easy for this spunky young lady. Determined to make herself scarce until the hubbub at court dies down a bit, Alanna and her attendant Coram (and don’t forget Faithful the cat) take off into the desert . . . only to get taken prisoner by a group of Bahzir tribesmen. And what with one thing following another, soon they’re not only blood-sworn kin to said tribesman, but Alanna becomes the tribe’s shaman, dealing daily with the magic she hates and fears. One has to wonder whether she will ever be ready to deal with another of her great fears, however . . . the fear of love.
I love Tamora Pierce’s writing, I love the Song of the Lioness quartet, and I truly enjoyed The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. Going from the court intrigues and such of the prior two volumes, this story is quite a bit of a jump. It takes you deep into the desert country and into the customs and traditions of the tribes that dwell there. Pierce’s dealing with the culture clash is very well done; tasteful and thoughtful, but with enough active engagement to keep the reader’s attention. (Actually, the problem is likely going to be finding a place to put the book down for a break!) Alanna is a great female protagonist: very strong in character, determined, and unwilling to back down. I really enjoy the character development in both her and the numerous supporting characters throughout the quartet–they are strongly themselves, clearly defined (which isn’t to say they aren’t an enigma at times), and interesting personally. I would highly recommend The Woman Who Rides Like a Man; just start with Alanna: The First Adventure and In the Hand of the Goddess first.