Tagged tamora pierce

Coop de Book Review: Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Hello Gentle Reader! Notice I have NAMED the book group? Henceforth we shall be known as “Coop de Book” kind of a play on Carriger Pigeons.


(See what I did there, huh huh?

So this last month I chose Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith which is actually an omnibus of two shorter works. I, however, always read it is one book (albeit in two parts) so that’s how I’ll approach it.

I picked it up back in 2014 from a Goodreads Recommendation List “Books to Read if You Like Tamora Pierce” or something similar. It was a great recommendation. I really enjoyed this book and have reread it a half dozen times since then.

I hope you will forgive me if I review it by comparing it to a lot of other books I love. Because, well, that’s just kinda how it works in my head. The first part really does remind me of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna or Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword, perhaps with a little Ever After movie thrown in.

“Welcome among us. What is your name?” I said.
“Jerrol, as it pleases you, my lady.” And again the bow.
“Well, it’s your name if it pleases me or not.”

The second part, however, is more reminiscent of later political YA like The Selection or To Play the Lady. In which our brash bold outrageous hero, must learn the subtle art of court manipulations.

“She couldn’t read or write, wouldn’t even sit still indoors. All summer she would disappear for a week at a time, roaming in the hills. I think she knows more about the ways of the Hill Folk than she does about what actually happens at Court.”

In a way, this is the journey my YA reading took. From these simpler takes on the hero’s journey that were common in the 80s and 90s to the politically driven stuff that owes a lot, I think, to feedback loops between YA fantasy and adult epic fantasy and space opera.

I really like this journey told in one book, it’s not often one you see with the same character. All too often they style of a YA fantasy novel is either one or the other. It’s fun to watch a character archetype of the first kind, transition to the second.

You can even see it in the cover art, where the first image above shows an old-fashioned Pierce-like cover while the second shows a more current style icon cover (made popular by Twilight and then the Hunger Games books).

One of my favorite things about this book is the romance thread. I love the secret letter writing confessional (very Ella Enchanted) and I am a huge fan of the enemies to lovers romantic trope (AKA the Pride & Prejudice model).

Shevraeth said, “I’m very much afraid it’s my fault. We met under the worst of circumstances, and we seem to have misunderstood one another to a lethal degree.”

I like how Mel’s willful misunderstanding of Shevraeth is part of her generally stubborn and blundering country-girl personality. She is wild and willfully ignorant (huh, yet again with the Lizzy Bennett comparison) and that is why she can’t and won’t understand his careful political maneuverings, and also his own reserved interest. They are good match in the end, because they are so different.

Again like Lizzy and Darcy.

And like them she refuses to do anything but call him by his last name.

In the end a fun book and a  chronic re-read for me. A good offering to YA fans of wide tastes in the fantasy genre, both old fashioned and modern. I hope you all felt the same.

Join the discussion on Goodreads.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman.}


  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel by G. L. Carriger
    Status: With Copy Editor
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance featuring a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.


Romancing the Inventor in Audiobook. A maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Emile Bernard (French artist, 1858-1941) Breton Girls with Parasols 1892

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Gendered Mind (podcast)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

5 Cases of a Missing Hyphen

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
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Terrier: Coop de Book Review and More on Tamora Pierce

Posted by Gail Carriger


Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series, Book One: Terrier

I’m beginning to, finally, recognize patterns in Tamora Pierce’s heroines. When I was a kid I identified with her books so strongly I couldn’t possibly step back as a writer to see her tricks. Now, with the benefit of age and distance, I read this book with new eyes. Her main characters always have some kind of fatal flaw – in Beka’s case it’s fear of public speaking and chronic shyness, for Alanna it was cold and spiders, for Kel it was heights, and so forth. At some point, in each series, the heroine will be made to face her fear.

On the other hand, she also has an equally strong good trait or two – for Alanna this was stubbornness and whit, for Kel a stoically strong leadership, for Beka it’s dogged determination.

“I could’ve swore you said the Bold Brass gang got took down by an eight-year-old.”
My lord nodded and says, “She took against one of them. He was living with her mama. When he found out her mama had lung rot, he beat her up and took all she had of value. The girl Dogged him.”

For all of them it’s also surrounding themselves with supportive friends. You know I LOVE that. There is always one major issue or problem in each book for each girl that only she sees (and proverbially, must be responsible for the solution). In Beka’s first case it’s a problem of people disappearing, and since these people are her people (the poor and destitute) she undertakes their protection.

The Lower City is mine. Its people are mine—its children are mine. If I find them that’s doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they’d best pray for mercy.

I like Pierce best when she’s writing YA with a warrior girl main character. The Wild Mage series are my least favorite Tortall books and I gave up on her non-Tortall Circle series early.

But with Beka we’re back to my favorite kind of read. I will say I am not a huge fan of first person POV, and this epistolary style can be a little awkward.


In this first Beka Cooper book, Pierce successfully weaves almost Noir police procedural with gritty crime-and-punishment in a fantasy setting. It reminded me, ever so slightly, of Vimes and the Night Watch of Ankh Morpork. Pierce is also using Beka to explore, for what feels like the first time, the commoners of Tortall – the neglected layfolk and the street people.

So often fantasy novels are about nobles and quests, it was delightful to see what the underlings thought of the nobles. The use of Lower City slang and lingo pervades the book, but not so much I was uncomfortable with it. So too there are also little touches of superstition which bring this world to life.

kissed the half moon at the base of my thumbnail for luck

And never forgetting the descriptions of food. 

thought I might drool when the smells met my nose: spiced pork pie with anise, herbs in beef broth, a raston, and a Tyran custard

Like peopling her books with excess characters, Pierce has such a light touch you hardly notice the overload. (And her editors let her get away with it, they might not with a less seasoned YA author.) Her wide cast of characters includes animals and the return of one of my favorites of all time, the Wanderer, the Cat, AKA (spoiler alert for Alanna) Faithful! I remember crying so hard in the last Alanna book when he returned to the Goddess. So to have him back in all his cheeky glory is truly wonderful. I would have bought this book on that fact alone if I had known.

“Did you know mages have named certain constellations ‘wanderers,’ because they appear and disappear for decades at a time? One of those is the Cat. At present, the Cat is missing from the night sky.”

So what are my final thoughts?

If you have a pre-teen girl in your life you owe it to the world to put Tamora Pierce in front of her. Beka is an excellent way to start, although Alanna will always be my favorite. Pierce is a master of strong tough young women. Women who know what they want, stand up for what they believe, hold a moral compass made of personal integrity, and still can love and be kind and surround themselves with friends. With the gruesome specter of reality TV looming over us, someone has to fight the good fight. We should all be so lucky as to have a little Tamora Pierce in our lives, and in ourselves.

A note on the follow up books:


The second book in the series takes Beka away from Chorus and her friends and puts her on a case in a strange city giving her a new love interest. This book didn’t hold me as much as the first (or third) but it’s still worth the slog to know what happens to her there. I suggest it also because of the presence of one of the first instances I know, in YA fantasy, of a transgender woman. There is a beautiful little scene where Okha Soyan explains what this means to a confused but sympathetic Beka.


The final Beka book is probably my favorite. Oddly it begins with Beka mourning the loss of her Dog lover. And goes on to become a true classic quest. There is Beka (shall we call her the ranger?), a mage, a paladin, and a rogue. I didn’t realize this until this most recent reread. Pierce has fun with the tropes and delves once more into the horrors of the common folk in medieval times (basically). It’s nice to see a fantasy that doesn’t glorify nobility to the expense of all reality. For those of you who, like me, yearn for a happy ever after, don’t you worry. Beka gets that too. But then if you’ve read the Alanna books you know that, for we have all met her marvelous long after progeny.

(And yes, before you ask, George Cooper is my ideal man. So there.)

One Final Note (Tamora Pierce makes me loquacious)

Pierce is generally good about mixing up gender and approaching feminism head on. For example she gives us, at the very beginning of Terrier, a domestic abuser who is the mother, and in this book we meet the cult of the Gentle Goddess which oppresses women, but is also enforced by women. I like it, Pierce is gloriously multifaceted, and never afraid to approach big issues, like slavery.

“Cats must always be cats, even when they are gods, or constellations.”
~ Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper #1 by Tamora Pierce

P.S. I’d like to state for the record that I wrote my character, Tunstell, before I read these books. 

{Gail’s monthly read along for March is Sorcery & Cecelia: Or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via @DailyArtApp 
Painted in the open air on the beach at Trouville,
this painting has sand on its surface. from @YaleArtGallery

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
“He has purple eyes,” one of the new coves said. He looked a bit spooked. “Purple eyes. Is he magic?”
“Aren’t all cats?” Ersken asked.
~ Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper #1 by Tamora Pierce

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
10 Character Cliches to Watch Out For


  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Proofs pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella. Reworking & trimming. Release date to come. Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, featuring a several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
 1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Cassandra Giovanni gives Manners & Mutiny nothing but 5 stars across the board:
“The final novel in the Finishing School series is a topping one for sure. Not only are we served with a beautiful cover and intriguing description, but the entire novel is as fun as the rest.”

Quote of the Day:
“You look as scary as a buttered muffin,” I grumbled.
~ Bloodhound: The Legend of Beka Cooper #2  by Tamora Pierce

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Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

Gail Carriger Reviews The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


I hope you all enjoyed The Raven Ring, and that for some of you this is your introduction to Wrede and Lyra. Lyra is one of the first epic fantasy worlds that I remember reading as a girl that was written by a woman. And while I always preferred Wrede’s lighter fare, I have a number of friends who consider Lyra one of the great inventions of the genre.

The Raven Ring was always my favorite. I think it stands on its own and you either enjoy Wrede’s lyrical, almost oratory, way of telling high fantasy, or you don’t. But if you do, this particular book is a great window into her world.

The Raven Ring features a tough mountain lass, who just happens to be a badass fighter. It is basically a murder mystery with magic. Eleret must figure out who murdered her mother and what that has to do with the magical Raven Ring that is her only inheritance. It also features two marvelous love interests and a fun ending.

Sticking with this theme of noir meets fantasy, I’ve chosen Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper Book 1 by Tamora Pierce as next month’s read. February is a short month and this is a quick read, being YA. It has a very urban feel to it which I think you will enjoy. It’s the first of three books, but it’s fine to stop after the first one. Terrier is set in Pierce’s Tortall fantasy county, which is not particularly noted for its inventive world building. You don’t read Pierce for the world, you read her for the characters. Be prepared to fall in love. Her Song of the Lioness quartet is my favorite series of all time, and responsible for the fact that my own Finishing School series is four books long.

{Gail’s monthly read along for February is Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper Book 1 by Tamora Pierce.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

2015 Bunka Fashion College Fashion Show 2015 _ JAPANESE STREETS.jpg

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Lilliput reads a manual on slow cooking

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
8 Varieties of Hot Tea Everyone Should Try

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
When I Did Some Physical Therapy For My Wrist


  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Edit pass. Releases July 19, 2016 in print & eBook to US.
  • Poison or Protect ~ A Delightfully Deadly Novella. Reworking & trimming. Release date to come. Gail’s first foray into hybrid land, featuring a grown up and several-times widowed Preshea and the gentle Scottish captain who could change everything.

Gail Carriger’s Scribbles! 



 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;
The Curious Case (featuring Alessandro Tarabotti)

Book News:
Soulless made B&N SciFi & Fantasy Blog for “Genre Mashups: Fantasy Novels for Austen Fans”

Quote of the Day:
“We are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Want Gail in you inbox once a month? Get the Chirrup!
Gail on Facebook & Twitter & Goodreads & Tumblr.
Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!

The Book That Changed My Life (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Twenty-five years ago (or thereabouts) I wandered into a bookstore, picked up newly released hard back with a redhead, a horse, and a sword on the cover and managed to persuade my rather poor parents to see to the exorbitant expense by simply refusing to let that book out of my grasp.

Alanna: The First Adventure

I was eight when I brought Alanna home with me and it could have been yesterday.

Until that moment, immured in a world full of Tolkien, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Water Babies, and Wind in the Willows (AKA men writing about men for boys) I did not know a woman in fantasy could be strong, smart, stubborn, witty, and courageous. Alanna: The First Adventure is responsible for changing who I was as a reader, but also who I was as a female.

In the Hand of the Goddess

Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series defined my young adulthood, the final book in the quartet released as I entered junior high. They became the four books that I could recite from memory, read over and over again and never find boring. These books gave me the courage to start writing, because suddenly I knew that I could write about something familiar and something interesting to me: being a girl with guts.

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

They literally (and I do mean literally – pun intended) changed my life. In high school, a mutual love of Alanna cemented my relationship with the girl who would become the woman who is still (20 years later) one of my best friends in the entire world. That same friend still beta reads my novels for me, and still keeps me honest to the tenants of Tamora Pierce as we see them: women with the courage to be themselves. She is also the friend who took me to my first science fiction convention. She was there with me when we got to meet Tamora Pierce in person at my very first WorldCon.

Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness)

Ask me to name my favorite series of all time and I still don’t have to think about it. If I could read nothing else for the rest of my life it would be the Song of the Lioness quartet.

The reason I write, is to be that author for someone else.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

via FB

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Unfortunately, I feel the Alanna books have been done NO favors by their increasingly awful cover art.

Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third:
Curtsies & Conspiracies
~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Release date Nov. 5, 2013. 
Etiquette & Espionage
~ trade paperback will be available in the US October 13, 2013

~ Soulless Vol. 3: (AKA Blameless) Available serialized through YenPlus. Print edition Nov. 19 2013. 
~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Delayed. Why? Begin rewrite in 2014.


The Books!


The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series!
Please DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

The Parasol Protectorate omnibus hardback editions
Volume 1 (Books 1-3), Volume 2 (Books 4-5)
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
The Finishing School Series: Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies (Nov. 5, 2013)
 $0.99 ebook only short stories: Marine Biology and My Sister’s Song

Book News:
I do have a bunch of book reviews and other things to talk about and post, but sorry, things are getting pretty crazy around here, so they may have to wait until the end of the year.

Quote of the Day:
“Threats are the last resort of a man with no vocabulary.”
― Tamora Pierce, Lady Knight

In Which Tamora Pierce Has Victorian Breakfast Consequences (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Ah, Gentle Reader, I was ceased with the sudden mad desire to read Tamora Pierce on Wednesday night. Possibly because I’m trying to get in touch with my teenage self while writing this Finishing School young adult series.

Well, my teenage self took over.Stupid teenage self.

It was 11:30 when I picked up First Test and I thought, “Oh I’ll just read for a half an hour or so.” Next thing I know I’m three books in and it is 3 am!

Gail Tamora & Beyond the Trope Podcasters

It’s been years since I did that. And while Alanna is my one true love, Kel can certainly sucker me in. Luckily, the forth (and longest) book in the Protector of the Small series is my least favorite, so I managed to stop reading before I lost the entire night.

The thing is, I’m definitely not 14 anymore. I just can’t get away with going to sleep at 3 in the morning. (Except perhaps at a convention once or twice a year.) People often ask why I don’t blurb. This is one of the reasons. Books suck me in. With an adult length novel, I could easily lose whole days when I should be writing. (The other reason I don’t blurb is that I used to review professionally and I’m unremittingly cruel as a result.)

Anyway, so yesterday, I was fuzzy and entirely out of it which had the direct consequence of getting me derailed into research. In Etiquette & Espionage at the moment, the young ladies of quality are having breakfast. So what did I do? Delve into the Victorian breakfasts (recipes, table settings, assessable ingredients depending on time of year, and so on) for about three hours.

Sigh. Reading has such tremendous and wide ranging consequences.

Victorians At Breakfast

The less luxurious your breakfast table is, the better, always provided you are careful to have the four essentials, – good tea, good coffee or cocoa, good bread, and sweet butter, together with a fitting supply of milk and cream. I would therefore recommend a few savoury things suitable to the several months of the year, harmless, nutritive, and easily digested. 

Never forget to have a fair damask cloth upon your table; nothing shows off so sweetly the morning repast with its bright silver, its cheerful china, and the merry, hissing urn. When the months have flowers, by all means have the epergne well filled; for, as the poet beautifully says, ‘They are the smiles of God.’

From Things a Lady Would Like to Know ~ Henry Southgate

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Tisane of Smart:
For those of you who admired my travel shoes in my LA previous post.

Miss Me Women’s Rae-3 Oxford
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Some interesting things on ebooks and royalty statements and an update.

Timeless: Second draft back, working 3rd draft.
Secret Project F: It is ALIVE! (But sleepign while I finish edits on 5.)
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

Some recent Fan Art generated by the Japanese edition of Soulless

This is a preview for Monday, Gentle Reader when you will get to see the first of the actual manage character sketches!

Quote of the Day:
“To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.”
~ Chinese Saying

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