Alanna; The First Adventure
By Tamora Pierce
(Young adult fantasy, 288 pages, 2010)
Currently on Libby for audiobook download
A must-read for budding fantasy readers, this is the first in a series weaving rich tapestries of magic and human nature in the fantastical Kingdom of Tortall. This captivating book chronicles the adventures, mishaps, and learnings of Alanna, a young girl yearning to become a knight of the kingdom. The problem: girls are neither allowed to become knights, nor train for that life, and so Alanna hides her gender as she starts her training as a page at court. Smaller and weaker than her peers and forced to hide her true identity, Alanna chooses a difficult path indeed. Her stubbornness, work ethic, and intelligence enable her to overcome her disadvantages, but things are made more difficult still when a devastating plague besieges the city. Alanna must confront another hidden aspect of herself, the capacity for the magical ‘Gift.’ From healing to fighting, Alanna must learn to both cultivate and strengthen her own skills as well as to accept herself before others have any hope of doing so.
A fast-paced yet surprisingly thoughtful journey greets the reader of any age within the pages of this book. It is a yearly re-read for me and many of my (adult) friends and a great opportunity to capture the reading attention of a younger audience. Simultaneously whimsical and astute, this book provides the opportunity to contemplate honesty, honor, courage, identity, balance, love and death — all from a light-hearted perspective of a child. This is the first of a quartet, begetting an entire storyline of strong protagonists combatting societal expectations and creating their place within the world.
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