My resolution to re-read more is getting off to a strong start.
After my son and I listened to Wild Magic during our long car ride during the winter holidays, he asked to go back to the beginning and read the classic YA quartet Alanna, In The Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant. I came down with a cold last weekend, and while I was recuperating, I binge-read them myself.
In many ways, Alanna and sequels form a stereotypical YA coming of age arc.
- Young girl disguises herself as a boy to follow her dream of becoming a knight.
- Adolescent girl battles and defeats sorcerous opponent.
- Teen goes on a journey, and is adopted by a nomadic, tribal people.
- Young woman fulfills a quest to find a powerful magic artifact. She makes it home just in time to give the artifact to the king-to-be, fight the sorcerous opponent who is back from the dead, and save the kingdom.
Along the way, the girl trains and grows, becomes confident in herself, (and once she is 17 or 18ish even finds some discrete off-camera loving). I didn’t excerpt specific quotes, but Tamora Pierce recounts it all clearly with some wonderful, humorous moments.
If written today, Alanna likely wouldn’t even be noticed among all the similar books. But it was first published in 1983. It even predates Talia and the Mercedes Lackey Arrows of the Queen, which I keep conflating with it, by a few years.
Digression - after re-reading the Alanna quartet, I’ve come to the conclusion that Tamora Pierce is in many ways a better writer than Mercedes Lackey. My son potentially agrees with me about the absolute quality of the writing, but prefers the world of Valdemar to the Kingdom of Tortall.
Thank you Tamora Pierce (and Mercedes Lackey) for creating a compelling story of youngsters growing into themselves that both can hold the interest of readers of many ages and holds up to revisiting.