Review by: dancingonrain.
Alanna, disguised as a boy named Alan, continues her journey into Knighthood. Prince Jonathan is her best friend and one of the few people who knows she’s a girl. She is his squire. As her relationship with him and George, the Prince of Thieves, grows she must also put a stop to the plot of an evil sorcerer not only bent on Jonathan and his parents’ destruction by her own too. That sorcerer is none other than Jonathan’s uncle, Duke Roger.
This was the second book in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet and while I loved it as a child, I found myself having a harder time getting into this book presently. One of my main problems with this book is that I felt it was primarily summary over story. There were so many time jumps forward that sometimes I felt I didn’t get a full feel for events or developments in character relationships. I realize that Pierce may have been trying to meet a certain word count, but I felt that if she had made the book longer and actually spent the time exploring the characters, world, and plot, it could have been a much better story. As a child this series (and anything else Tamora Pierce came up with) was my favorite, but going back over it now, I find that the telling rather than showing style doesn’t appeal to me as much as it did when I was younger. .
I remember loving the magical cat, Faithful, but now I realize that the reason Pierce may have put him in there was so that Alanna/Alan wouldn’t have been talking to herself whenever she was alone. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and while I would love to have a magical black cat, I don’t think there was much point in having him there. When he and Alanna were talking, they were basically discussing what we already knew or discussing how we already knew Alanna felt about certain things or people from the first book. Granted, there were some funny instances where Alanna was trying to talk with Prince Jonathan, whom she has a growing crush on, and Faithful was teasing her in her head while it was happening.
When I was younger, I remembered being completely immersed in the “Ordeal” chapter, but now I’m sad to say I found myself sort of “underwhelmed.” That was probably because I felt it was mostly summary rather than showing me what was going on.
Despite this books flaws and some choppy prose, I think my favorite part of it was the conclusion. I’m not entirely sure why, but maybe it had to do with the fact that she had finally confronted Duke Roger and even though he cheated during their trial by combat duel, she still won with mostly everyone still thinking she was a boy. She won because she refused to let him live and put her friends in further danger. And in that particular scene it felt a little less like telling and a little more like showing.
No matter how I feel about this book now, this series is what got me interested in reading as a child and even though I may have outgrown certain aspects of this style, I will always be grateful that it turned me on the path of reading.