Today Erin tells us all about her favourite book. Find out what she had to say here.
I just love Tamora Pierce. She’s been writing incredible fantasy novels for longer than I’ve been alive. The woman’s even won an award for her “lasting and significant contribution to young adult literature”! Her most famous and beloved (and the focus of this post) work is her Tortall series, made up (thus far!) by three quartets (Song of the Lioness; The Immortals; Protector of the Small), a duology (Trickster’s Choice) and a trilogy (The Provost’s Dog). I really adore the original three quartets, which is why I have picked them as my favourite read.
It’s a series I could never get tired of re-reading. Opening those pages is like visiting old friends. One of my favourite memories is trying to read the end of Lioness Rampant under the table at my aunt’s wedding – I simply couldn’t put it down, and I still feel that way when I read it now. When my boyfriend and I started living together we put aside one night every week where we went to bed early and I read a couple of chapters from whichever instalment we were up to. And he loved it! We have loads of ‘couple’ jokes related to the books now. It’s one of those rare series which you can enjoy and interact with as an adult on its own merits, rather than just out of nostalgia for how much you loved it as a child (much like the Harry Potter and His Dark Materials series, as already chosen as favourites here!).
Tortall is a place somewhat reminiscent of a European medieval court, but one where magic and a pantheon of deities are routine and a part of everyday life.. Song of the Lioness follows Alanna of Trebond (squeal!), a nobleman’s daughter who doesn’t want to get sent off to finishing school. As luck would have it, her twin brother Thom, wants to study magic, not enter knighthood, so they pull the old switcheroo. Honing her magical and physical prowess, concealing her gender, trying not to get pregnant, getting embroiled in a love triangle with rather extreme political implications, Alanna really has her work cut out for her for the ten years of her life that the quartet follows.
The second quartet, The Immortals, is set during Alanna’s adulthood (one of the best parts of the experience is that you get constant cameos from your favourite characters peppered throughout!). The Immortals follows Daine, a commoner orphan who has such a strange and powerful magic that it is confused with insanity. She comes under the tutelage of Numair Salmalin, the most powerful mage in the world and learns that she has Wild Magic, a rare and dangerous commodity that allows her affinity with animals. Daine has to learn to control her power and harness it for the good of her adopted country, Tortall, whilst the Empire of Carthak seeks the usual: world domination, to overturn the natural order of things, yadda yadda.
The third quartet, Protector of the Small, overlaps slightly with The Immortals and sees some of the same conflicts. It follows Keladry of Mindelan, who is the first girl to enter knighthood since Alanna’s exploits threw the option open to her gender. Where Alanna had to conceal her gender throughout her pagehood and squiredom, Kel is quite literally a woman in a man’s world. And she is bullied. Dreadfully. Even the page’s training master wants her to drop out and treats her abysmally. Unlike the boy pages, she has to complete a probationary year before she’s even formally accepted as a page.
Without getting all “Girl Power” on you, these books were important to me as a child because they showed powerful women experiencing life on their own terms, getting into relationships and having sex without shame, or without that person having to necessarily be their one true love and happy ending. They also tackled meatier topics: war and politics, bullying and sexism, the family that you choose for yourself, how to be the best you that you can be without compromise.
When I have children – girls or boys – I know that I will be reading the Tortall books aloud to them probably long before they’re old enough to understand! After all, Protector of the Small has what I think is the most important piece of life advice I have ever received: “When in doubt, shoot the wizard.”
Link to Erin’s page; http://www.erinlawless.co.uk
Thank you for taking part Erin, tomorrow is the last ‘my favourite book’ post so look out.