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Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness #1. Atheneum Books (Sept. 2002) Library
"From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight."

In a time when girls are forbidden to be warriors, Alanna of Trebond wants nothing more than to be knight of the realm of Tortall. So she finds a way to switch places with her brother, Thom. Disguised as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page at the palace of King Roald. The road to knighthood, as she discovers, is not an easy one. Alanna must master weapons, combat, magic -- and also polite behavior, her temper, and even her own heart. With stubbornness, skill, and daring, she wins the admiration of all around her, and the friendship of Prince Jonathan of Tortall himself. But she also makes an enemy of the prince's uncle, the powerful and charming Duke Roger....

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 the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.

My first Tamora Pierce book, finally! Tamora Pierce is one of those authors I've constantly heard about. To not have read a book by her by now felt like such a mistake. After finally giving her a chance I learned that the hype is real. Pierce can write. I was totally immersed in Tortall, Alanna's world, and her friend's lives. I love how fantasy books, well all books really, can take me to a new world. It felt different with Alanna. It felt like a book other fantasy books to be like. It felt perfect.

Alanna and her twin brother want what the other one has. Alanna wishes she can become a knight but only boys are sent to get training as a knight. While her brother Thom, wants to learn about magic. He could do so if he wanted to, it's not a "girl" thing, but his father won't hear of it. Alanna won't let life be chosen for her so she dresses like her brother, writes a note to the school, and off they both go to do what they've always wanted. 

Alanna is very stubborn and brave. She would be the ultimate Gryffindor. She won't let any bully bring her down even when she's dealing with someone twice her size. She learns to fight, she makes loyal friends, and she goes through a journey between good and evil. 

I loved how she never let anyone look down on her and how she made such loyal friends. It was a testament to her character that she was able to handle all the things thrown at her and the loyalty she found amongst the other knights in training. Meanwhile, one of the friends she makes, the prince, doesn't realize that his uncle wants him dead. She sees this and wants to protect him even if it means revealing some truths - she's not only a girl but has powerful magic in her veins. 

This is a very true to nature fantasy book. This is what you expect to get from an older fantasy read like Lord of the Rings or something. There is great world building, characters, and fantastic writing. I strongly recommend reading Alanna's story. What I hope for in the next books in the series is to find out what makes her and her brother so special and who find out who their mother is...

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