Coop de Book: Not Really a Book Review of Alanna by Tamora Pierce (Miss Carriger Recommends)

OK, up front confession, the The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce pretty much changed my life, Gentle Reader. I was eight when I first read Alanna and it altered my world view on fantasy and books in general ~ the very I idea that a young girl could be the central character and really kick some proverbial ass did not jive with anything I had read before! I haunted the bookstore for the new one to come out (usually didn’t buy many books – I read too many too quickly would have beggared my family, but I had a very understanding library). This is one of the only series for which I have hard back first editions (which I keep in my office for safety) and pocket paperbacks (initially to travel around to various academic institutions with me, now reside at my mother’s place) and ebooks (for travel now). As a general rule I’m not a collector, I don’t care about the edition. But I have a signed first edition of Alanna and it is a prized possession.

Tamora Pierce was the reason I went to my first WorldCon. She was my first author kaffeeklatsch. In consequence, it is really hard for me to review Alanna in any kind of objective fashion. So instead I am going to tell you the story of how this book changed my life.

Picture a small town girl, 13 people in her eighth grade class, tried everything she could not to go to gangland public high. Luckily, she managed to slide into a private prep school (and while there was a scholarship, we aren’t going to talk about what the parentals had to do to afford it, not to mention make the drive every morning). So, there I was in Freshman English class and this adorable sweet-tempered other-worldly young lady and I start gravitating towards each other. However, it wasn’t until after class, at lunch, that Tamora Pierce came up in conversation.

Turns out we were both rabid fans. No, really. And then, as you do with books, we started sharing the other ones we really loved, and she told me ones I should read, and I told her ones she should read. And by the end of that lunch, we were rabid friends. And that, as they say, was that.

Going on almost 30 years now, Phran and I have played writer’s hopscotch with each other. She got her first short story published in MZB’s Sword & Sorceress when we were 15. Took me 3 years to catch up. She dragged me to my first science fiction convention (BayCon ’95). Significant others have come and gone, but it’s Phran and I who go to book parties together, who made the first trek to WorldCon together, and who still, more often than not, are each others plus one. She’s gone on to work for Locus and I’ve gone on to write books. I was her plus one at the Hugo party only a few days ago.

So how do you thank a book for bringing you your best friend? I guess what I am saying is Alanna is wrapped up in so much of my life I can’t really review it, it’s less a book than a beacon, and less an annual re-read than a visit through my own memories. It’s the ultimate comfort.

Gail Tamora & Beyond the Trope Podcasters

Gail, Tamora & Beyond the Trope Podcasters

So. Yeah. Anyway…

My pick for next month is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair. Why? Well I read her Games of Command and quite enjoyed it so I thought this one might be fun too. I usual vet the books before I choose them so I am out on a limb with this one, but I hope you all enjoy it. It’s a sci-fi romance, which seems to me just another way to say space opera only with more sex and a happy ending.

Looking for more to read?

{Gail’s monthly read along for September is Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair.}



Marine Biology

A short tale of seduction, selkies, and sushi.

Alex is a werewolf with problems – he’s unexpectedly alive, he’s quite definitely gay, and he’s been ordered into a partnership with one very flirty merman.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1930 Cecil Beaton’s fantastic portrait of the Queen Mother when she was young. via fawnvelveteen tumblr

1930 Cecil Beaton’s fantastic portrait of the Queen Mother when she was young. via fawnvelveteen tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

10 Dangerous Beauty Trends From The Victorian Era

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Busting” Some Popular Copyright Myths

Book News:

All Things Urban Fantasy says of Imprudence:

“IMPRUDENCE is very entertaining and even sweet in some moments. It’s a wonderful continuation of the series and I am looking forward to seeing Prudence go on yet another adventure.”

Quote of the Day:

“And then he smiled his smallest smile, the secret one, the one with all his pain in it.”

~ For Real by Alexis Hall

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





Posted by Gail Carriger

One Response

  1. Sami Bly said:

    I picked up Alanna for the first time in middle school. I absorbed the first one as fast as I could. I got the next three at Powell’s in Portland during a family trip. As a preteen I got very angry half-way through The Woman Who Rides Like a Man and threw the book across the room. As an adult doing a reread this year, I have a greater appreciation for the choices Alanna makes. After reading the first book in the quartet, there was no way for me not to read the rest, and then all of the books set in Tortall. Until this month, I had forgotten how much Tamora Pierce’s book have made a positive impact on my life.

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