“From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.”
And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins—one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land.
I liked this one SO MUCH more than Wild Magic! Which is really great, because I still rated that one fairly high despite my dislike of certain aspects. If you’re new to Tortall (like me) I’d say Alanna would be a good place to start. It’s the same sort of coming-of-age story, but with a twist: the protagonist is a young girl disguised as a boy, training to become a knight in a world where women mostly aren’t.
And it totally works! (Perhaps because she starts her disguise before puberty set in.) I had to take a lot of things for granted, sure, but getting to know Alanna and co. as young adults made them much more interesting people than when they were in Wild Magic as uber-competent adults.
I mean, they’re still pretty darned competent as children, but it’s not annoying like it was in Wild Magic. Maybe because there’s only a few of them this time? Perfectness works better in small batches than when it’s an entire cast, or something.
Also, unlike in Wild Magic, these children are allowed to be un-perfect for a little bit. They need to learn stuff! Alanna is a born warrior, but she still needs to learn how to use her sword properly. She also has to deal with bullies, family, friendship, and more emotional junk that like. She didn’t come off as a perfect heroic character, but like someone who IS a hero but still has a long way to go before it actually happens for real. Which was nice.
It helped that it was a school story, too. I love school stories! I’m willing to forgive a lot of eccentricities in writing style if it happens in a school.
So, yes! I liked Alanna a lot. I liked her friends, and her warrior school, and the hint of the Big Bad they’ll probably have to defeat somewhere down the line.
Adventure! Exciting training montages! Friendship and royals and twins! Yay!
Read: November 5, 2014