Retro Friday Review: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Retro Friday Review: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora PierceAlanna by Tamora Pierce
Series: Song Of The Lioness #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2009-12-08
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

From Tamora Pierce, the first book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award.“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.

Retro Friday Reviews are hosted by Angie of Angieville.

I am pretty sure I needed Alanna in my life when I was in middle school. This would have perfectly complimented my Sailor Moon obsession. (I mean kick ass girls doing kick ass thing). I read a lot of fantasy as a kid. However, most of it was male centered. I never really picked up Robin McKinley, etc. Why oh why did I never come across this book while in the library? I am going to come clean right now. I was one of those little girls who thought being a damsel in distress was a good thing. Until I started watching and reading Sailor Moon, I didn’t think girls could kick ass and take names. In short, I loved Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce and wish someone could have pressed it into my hands a lot earlier.

Alanna and her twin brother Thom are being sent out of Trebond to continue their respective educations. Alanna to a convent, Thom to a castle to learn to be a knight. However, the twins have a different plan. Alanna is gifted in fighting and desperately wants to be a knight. Thom is gifted in magic and would rather continue his magic education. The twins switching outfits and gender roles at the station before they leave. We then focus on Alanna, now called Alan’s journey as she learns to be a knight while pretending to be a boy.

I love that we see how one can overcome a lot with hard work, even being physically smaller/ not as fit as other people. I mean, hard work won’t fix EVERYTHING, but I think that it accounts for a large percentage. It’s so cool to see a girl in the central role, navigating education traditionally restricted to males. Also, I love that this takes on bullying. I think at the time this was written was pre-Columbine, when people thought bullying was just a normal rite of passage. Yet, this book shows bullying is bull-shit, and just because you are smaller does not mean you have to take it. We see Alanna as being victimized, yet she never acts the victim. Instead, she trains. She gets better. She faces her problems head on.

Friends, I loved this. It makes me so proud to be a feminist (as I believe females AND males should be equal, not one over the other) because ladies is kick-ass too.

Other Reviews:

Abby (The) Librarian
Terra On The Bookshelf
Brenda Loves Books
See Michelle Read

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’ve never read Tamora Pierce, and I can’t help but feel I have missed out on something essential… Maybe this needs to be a new priority… Great/fun review!

  2. Wow, great review! I would have loved this as a young teen. I was a big fan of Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown at that age. I just found out about this book yesterday when I was looking at the list of books for the Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge (hosted by Reading With Tequila). I am definitely going to be reading this for the challenge after your excellent review!

    I am happy to see the strong female role models in YA fiction like Katniss Everdeen, Katsa, and Eona from Eon: Dragoneye Reborn. That story reminded me a little of this one because she is pretending to be a boy so she can become a Dragoneye, something forbidden to girls in her world.

    Thanks for sharing your retro review!

  3. AHHHHH You do not know how happy it made me to see this review because I bought this books JUST LAST WEEK! and now i plan to devour it like so….NOM NOM NOM, because nothing can make me more excited than seeing the word Feminism. HOLLA!!!!!!

  4. Just did a reread of these last month and they took me back so much! I think these were my favorite books in middle school. Glad you finally got introduced to the amazingness.

  5. Yay! So happy you liked this one too. I was an Alanna latecomer as well, but I just love this series. Such great girl power!

  6. I just read (and loved) the quartet about a year ago. You’ll love the rest of them just as much as this one!

  7. Yay, you’ve read Alanna! I really enjoyed reading the books in this series but my favorite Tamora Pierce books are the ones about Alanna’s daughter. 🙂

  8. Aw, I’m sad for you that you didn’t read this as a teenager. I read all Tamora Pierce’s books when I was twelve or thirteen, and I loooved them. I haven’t read them that much as a grown-up, but they were a big part of my adolescence. (I liked the Daine books better, Wild Magic and the ones that came after it.)

  9. Great review! I gobbled this book up as a sixth grader. I would still really like to become a knight, in retrospect. Thank you, Tamora Pierce, for inspiring those aspirations. Awesome review!

  10. Oh wow. What an awesome choice for a RF review. I <3 you, April. These books seriously changed everything for me at age 12. I was such a goner for Alanna and her stubborn strength. And every other character holds a piece of my heart to this day. Can't wait to hear what you think of the other three. They just get better and better.

  11. Megan no h says

    Oh man, I read the first two of these a few months back and I loved them. Couldn’t believe I had avoided them back when I was young. I’ve been meaning to read the last two so I can review the whole series 😀

  12. Megan no h says

    PS. I LOVED Sailor Moon too. Seriously was obsessed. Like, where I would try and hunt down Sailor Moon merch like it was my job. This was before you could buy anything you wanted on the internet. Such hard times.


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