I wanted to review the whole Alanna series by YA fantasy author Tamora Pierce for you, then I realized it had been quite a while since I read the last two and quite honestly, didn’t remember their stories. I’m trying to bring myself up to date. To begin, I’ve re-read book three, her award-winning THE WOMAN WHO RIDES LIKE A MAN. To say it surprised me is an understatement.
In WOMAN WHO RIDES LIKE A MAN, Ms. Pierce takes her beloved heroine Alanna out of the court and into the wider world of Tortall. Alanna has won her shield and is now a true knight. But rather than stay in the kingdom, she and her companion Coram set off across Tortall. The first place they come to is the desert where they encounter a Bazhir tribe. And their shaman doesn’t like Alanna at all. In fact, he calls her a demon for wielding a blade and “riding like a man”, yet being a woman.
He does everything he can to drive her off, using spells Alanna knows to be dangerous. In fact, she recognizes them as some her former nemesis Duke Roger, employed. When the shaman challenges her to combat and she defeats him, Alanna’s adventuring turns into the position of shaman over the tribe and teacher to some young apprentices. Worst among them, according to some in the tribe, two young women.
Then Prince John shows up for training with the tribe’s mystic Voice (something like their priest) and happy to see Alanna, (no spoiler here, I hope. But it might be. So I’m hiding the rest of this behind a “continue reading” tag. If you don’t care about spoilers, you can probably read on no problem.)Yes, he proposes marriage. Everyone it seems, wants a piece of her, even her old friend the Thief King, George.
But is the new knight ready to give up all her hard-won freedoms? Will her time here alleviate her worry over the incident with Roger? And when she goes to George, on his invitation, what then?
You will have to read to find out.
If you’re new to the series, I wouldn’t advise starting with this book, as it might confuse you, but with ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE and reading them in order. I did once…years ago (almost a decade has gone by since then–and no I was not in the recommended Grades 5-8 age group even then!), but not this time and I hate to say, it did take me a little to get back into the groove of the characters and their story. Also, the “otherism” involved with the Bazhir…was kind of uncomfortable. I wonder if it would’ve been if I’d read it when it came out in (yikes!) 1986. Nonetheless, I still recommend them all especially if you love strong heroines. If you’d like to delve into the series, all the books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.