Saturday, June 19, 2010

Alanna: The First Adventure


Title: Alanna: The First Adventure
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: January 6th 2005 (first published 1983)
Paperback: 274 pages

Stand Alone or series: Book one of the Song of the Lioness series

Summary: (from goodreads)
Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn't meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden--a female knight. But in the land of Tortall, women aren't allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court. Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil... somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret?

Review:

By the summary you can tell this story is a bit cliched from the start. Alanna is a girl who doesn't want to be a fluffy lady-in-waiting, so she disguises herself as her twin brother so she can be a knight instead. As with the nature of these sorts of stories, Alanna quickly rises to the top, befriends all sorts of convenient characters, is destined for greatness, and with hard work and dedication eventually becomes the Prince's squire.

I just made it sound like I hated the book didn't I?

Well I definitely didn't hate the book, but I think I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if I had first read it when I was younger. For me the story had a few problems.

1. The pacing was kind of odd I thought. Maybe this is just what happens when you try to span a few years in under 300 pages, but the way time moved in the story was rather sporadic and quite vague.

2. Even though I liked how Pierce wrote about how much Alanna was training (since so many books just leave that part out), I still had the impression that everything would always work out for Alanna. She was just a little too good at everything for my taste.

3. The story was light on the details. While some author's can go a bit crazy in detail, I thought this book could use some more. Because of that, a lot of the impact was lost and the plot was pretty transparent.

4. Even though I liked Alanna, most of the secondary characters were flat. They also seem to be in the story only to help Alanna.

Beyond those complaints, the story was still a good read. The lack of detail makes the book perfect for reading when you don't want to put too much energy into reading. As a character, I think young girls will enjoy Alanna's spunky nature.

Verdict:

I don't want it to seem like this book isn't worth reading, but then again the book is what it is. I will probably read this book to Holden when he's older, but I no intention on reading the other three books. Not because this book was bad, but because I just don't expect the other three books to get any better.

Plus, I think it's pretty obvious how some things are going to work out and I hate that.

Rating: 5. Blah – essentially neutral

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