I’ll admit right off the bat that I read these because I’m working my way towards the Beka Cooper series, which is supposed to be Pierce’s best work. It took me some time to realize that that series is actually an offshoot of Pierce’s first quartet of books, the Song of the Lioness books. I’d previously read The Circle of Magic books, and while I liked the concepts behind the book, I had to grit my teeth and force myself through a few of the books, so my expectations weren’t very high for these.
That said, I was kind of surprised. I enjoyed Alanna: The First Adventure, for what it was meant for—a kid’s book about a girl defying the rules and becoming a knight by disguising herself as a boy. If I’d read these when I was a kid, like a friend of mine did, I might well have loved them. I think the foreshadowing in these books is a bit heavy-handed, looking at them through my own eyes, but for a kid it might not be quite so obvious who the bad guy was.
I continued to have a lot of fun with In the Hands of the Goddess, though I didn’t enjoy that one quite as much. The foreshadowing really got to me on this one. To be fair, there’s actually a bit written into the plot as to why Alanna doesn’t realize sooner who it is that’s plotting against both her and the prince, but as the reader you sort of want to bang your head against the wall every time she says something like “hm… he’s suspicious, and could probably gain from all of this, but… oh I’m probably just imagining things.”
No, Alanna. You’re not imagining things. And the showdown at the end would have been much more scandalous if we hadn’t seen it coming for ages.
Also… she has a talking cat in this book. A familiar, as it were, but… well, it just doesn’t really work for me. As I said before, this probably wouldn’t be an issue if I had read this at the age it’s actually intended for… but this edged more towards the problems I had with her Circle quartets—namely, bad guys who were bad just because they were bad, and really deserved to die, and that’s it. I don’t know, Pierce. I know you’re a big name in the fantasy industry, but really sometimes I wonder why.
These get a B- from me. I’ll continue with them… if only because I really do want to get to Beka Cooper, and my OCD brain won’t let me read them out of order. Yes, it’s true.