Song of the Lioness Quartet: Alanna; In the Hand of the Goddess; The Woman Who Rides Like a Man; Lioness Rampant Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-10-15 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 135 user ratings

"Song of the Lioness is one of my all-time favorite series. It is one of my staple comfort reads, and I re-read it at least once or twice a year.

Out of all of the YA authors with whom I am familiar, Tamora Pierce is the best at writing real characters. For a while now, I've seen a trend in YA lit to write "kickass" heroines. These heroines tend to be super strong one moment and a weeping mess another moment, leaving me confused as to who is the real them. When I think about a truly strong and independent heroine with some vulnerabilities, Alanna is the first heroine to come to mind (followed by Daine and Kel from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals and The Protector of the Small). Alanna is strong, independent, and courageous. When she gets picked on for being small and weak, she doesn't break down. Instead, she suffers quietly while diligently training on her own so that she can prove her strength further down the road. She is also vulnerable in that she is scared of her magic, and she is scared of her womanhood. What makes her real is that these vulnerabilities are integral to her identity. She isn't strong one moment and then her vulnerabilities are exposed the next like many of today's YA heroines. Rather, her vulnerabilities are always with her, and they are important to the plot. Alanna cannot attain true knighthood without embracing her vulnerabilities.

Song of the Lioness is Tamora Pierce's first series, so the writing and character / plot development isn't as well done as her later series. Nevertheless, these are very solid for a debut author. In particular, I want to draw attention to the world building. I love when authors take the time to draw the maps for a fantasy world and when they understand the culture and history of their fantasy worlds so well that they can really develop the world. I felt like I was traveling the world with Alanna, and I could feel the distinct change in culture when Alanna brought me with her across the borders into another nation and even when a foreigner would arrive in Tortall. Few YA fantasy novels possess this power.

Tamora Pierce also writes unique characters. It is rare nowadays to find a novel where I love the supporting cast as much as I love the heroine. George and Faithful especially. George is a paragon for chivalrous thieves, and Faithful is one of the best literary cats ever written. What makes such characters special is that, while I may be able to place them under stock character lists, they are alive. They have their unique histories and character quirks. When they take action or say something, it doesn't feel like it is because the author thought that it would be cool if they did such and such or if such a scene took place. Even if she did, the scenes flow into one another. Again, Song of the Lioness is Tamora Pierce's debut series, so some of the dialogue and action does feel forced, but I can see a pattern in them. Everything that happens builds into the plot, a plot that I very much enjoyed.

The most important takeaway from the Song of the Lioness series is that we can do whatever we set our minds on. Alanna is small and not as strong as the other pages. Instead of giving up, she works harder than everything else. When she learns that she has no talent in swordplay, she drills herself in the basics so long and so hard that her body can respond instinctively to attacks. When she is bullied, she trains herself so that she can beat a bigger boy instead of relying on her friends, who would have gladly fought in her place. In a world that isn't accepting of female knights, she fights to make a place for herself. Alanna is a young woman who never quits until she has tried as hard as she can to overcome a situation.

The Song of the Lioness series has one of my favorite heroines of all time, an exciting world of adventure, and some of the most lovable characters in YA lit. It has romance, but the romance doesn't take over the greater plot. At its heart, Song of the Lioness is a coming-of-age story in which a girl who doesn't belong makes a place of her own through sheer determination and force of will. Alanna is someone with whom I could relate growing up, and her story is one that I will continue to love even as I grow older. I will for sure share this story with my future children and anyone looking for a good book to read.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog Imaginary Reads
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" Loved this series as a kid! I kept reading her books into college and afterwards just so I could "keep up" with favorite characters, and found myself re-reading her various series. " said.

" My girls loved these books. I find them a bit tedious, and obvious, and exposition heavy. But cute and fun and fluffy. " said.

" Tamora Pierce's books helped shape my identity as a child. They are epic, enthralling, and empowering on so many levels. I love these books, and I will forever. " said.

" Eins meiner absoluten Lieblingsbücher, und jedes Mal wieder fesselnd *-* Ich liebe die Charaktere, die Idee, wie sich die Geschichte immer wieder entwickelt und neue Richtungen einschlägt... Dieses Buch (und auch alle anderen Reihen von Tamora Pierce) würde ich jedem empfehlen :)) " said.

" How have I never read this series before? Love the fiercely strong Alanna breaking glass ceilings that change the futures of women all across her land. Beautiful writing, girls and women can definitely see themselves in her desire to be both warrior, and woman and how she grows into these roles. " said.

" Just reread this four-book series about the rad girl who grows up to be a knight/shaman, complete with magic and great dialogue and lots of life and Spirit and growing up business. So thankful to have stumbled across this some 25 years ago in my early teens. I really think it's shaped the person I am today. Two decades on, I still had a great time reading all four books. " said.

" Thoroughly enjoyed this series of a young girl who rebels against her society's strict segregation of male and female roles, then eventually comes "out" as a female warrior and has many adventures. She's not perfect - she's full of doubt and sometimes misses obvious cues (just like us), but she has a strong group of characters to journey with.She does sleep with every guy she is interested in - Pierce has some great comments on this part of Alanna's character - I suggest you look that up. " said.

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