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Posts Tagged ‘coming-of-age’

 Ten years have passed since Alanna of Trebond made it legal for girls to be knights, but Keladry is the first to actually attempt it. The law may be on her side, but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to make it easy for the first-ever girl squire, and many logistics and attitudes haven’t been worked out. What’s more, Alanna can’t show any favoritism, so she doesn’t even get to meet her heroine for the first while. Kel’s story demonstrates the frustrations of anyone trying to break into a job or culture where their “kind” has been banned in the past.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: First Test; Page; Squire; Lady Knight

Tortall Series: Song of the LionessImmortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

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 Aly is the daughter of the illustrious Alanna of Trebond, and so has a lot to live up to. A young spy, she takes on a mission to a very different culture (vaguely Japanese). As always, Pierce’s young female characters are spunky, intelligent, and get into just enough scrapes to be amusing. This series is written as two longer novels instead of Pierce’s previous quartet format, in part thanks to the success of the very long Harry Potter books. I recommend Pierce’s work to middle- and high-school students of any gender, even though the main characters are almost always girls.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Trickster’s Choice; Trickster’s Queen

Tortall Series: Song of the LionessImmortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

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Daine is another in the pantheon of Pierce’s fabulous female characters.  She can speak to animals, and her Gift changes the animals as well, giving them somewhat human characteristics.  This makes for some great human/animal conversations.  Daine’s teacher is also a complex and interesting character, and we get to understand how magic works in this world. Magic-wielders and displeased gods abound, and Daine must figure out her place in the world – even if it sometimes seems that she would rather run away and join a wolf pack.  Evidently, there is a new series in this story line in the works.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Wild Magic; Wolf-Speaker; Emperor Mage; The Realm of the Gods

Tortall Series: Song of the Lioness; Immortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

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I can’t say how many times I’ve read these books.  Tamora Pierce’s work deserves pride of place in the canon of modern, strong-girl fantasy adventure (if that’s a genre).  Alanna pretends to be her brother, so she can go train as a knight and he can go train as a magic-user.  From there, you can probably predict the plot, identity twists and all.  Predictable though it may be, this series is also engaging, funny, and exciting.  Alanna and her friends are great characters, and this series has been continued with, to date, four other series in the same universe.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Alanna: The First Adventure; In the Hand of the Goddess; The Woman Who Rides Like a Man; Lioness Rampant

Tortall Series: Song of the LionessImmortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

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A utopian future on a planet with lowered gravity, psychic abilities, and naturally abundant food – what could be better?  I read these books repeatedly as a kid, and still love them today.  Of course, the utopia cracks under the pressure of the secrets it is keeping, and courageous children must save the day.  The trilogy is a surprisingly sophisticated analysis of utopian ideals, for books aimed at children.  The cultures that evolved on this planet are well-reasoned extensions of their histories, and the overall story is believable, given the premise.  Plus, people get to fly and sleep in nests.

Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Order: Below the Root; And All Between; Until the Celebration

 

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These books are fascinatingly written. The frame story is that there are legends, songs, and tales about the women of Great Alta, and that historians fight constantly about the meanings of these legends.  Each chapter includes some “history”, some “legend” and then the “true story” of what really happened.  The women of Great Alta (and their shadow sisters) have a complex and magical way of life, which is brought to life all the more fully through the layered way Yolen constructs the books. The books are a great commentary on what we do or do not know about past cultures.

Author: Jane Yolen

Order: Sister Light, Sister Dark; White Jenna; The One-Armed Queen

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Pierce excels at strong girl characters, and Beka is no exception.  Placed two centuries before the Alanna books, the Beka series explores Tortall in a somewhat darker, grittier time.  Beka wants nothing more than to be a Dog, a policewoman in the toughest neighborhood in the city.  She is smart, tough, and can listen to ghosts.  Useful.  The first two books follow her rise from the rank of Puppy to Dog, and the final book should cover her life as an adult policewoman.  N.B., she shares a last name with George Cooper, the King of Thieves from the Alanna books.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff (due October 2011)

Tortall Series: Song of the LionessImmortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

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