Thursday, July 19, 2012

Song of the Lioness revisited

I'm rereading the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. Yes, I keep talking about her books. Probably because she's my favorite author (I think).

It's funny to revisit this quartet though. I'm reading it and I realize that things aren't as fully developed as they could be. Pierce's later books have more depth. I guess it's because they're her earliest novels? They're certainly good stories, and lay the groundwork for her other novels, but there are two things that have been bugging me.

Alanna as a boy

Alanna disguises herself as a boy so that she can become a knight, and trades places with her twin brother. He rides off to the convent where she was supposed to go (though unlike Alanna he won't need to hide his gender -- the convent takes boys as well as girls) and Alanna becomes "Alan" so that she can become a knight.

Certainly, this would be easier for them to do than it would in our world, since they don't have Facebook. And yet...

Someone, other than her trusty manservant Coram, must have been in both her home Trebond and to court, and realized that something was up. And in book two Alanna travels through Trebond on her way to visit her brother Thom. Didn't anyone wonder why she was there in a squires uniform, instead of being dressed like a proper lady? How could she keep her secret for so long?


Faithful is also in the Beka Cooper books, which were written after Song of the Lioness but which actually take place 200 years earlier. Faithful is a purple eyed black cat that is Alanna's friend, but who is also known as Pounce by Beka.

(By the way, does anyone know if there will be a fourth Beka Cooper??? I can't find info either way. At the end of book three it looks like there won't be another, yet there has to be, since Pierce writes quartets not trilogies. Right???)

Pounce is definitely magic, and he's obviously magic when he is known as Faithful. Yet, something seems a little off.

SPOILERS for both quartets

At the end of Beka Cooper: Terrier Faithful swallows a curse that would have killed Beka (unless my memory is off). Yet in book two of Song of the Lioness Roger manages to put him to sleep with a sleep spell. This doesn't add up. How could a magical being powerful enough to survive a death curse be so easily put to sleep?

...unless Roger is just that powerful? I seem to remember now that a mention in one of the Immortals books that some humans are powerful enough to pose a threat. Now I'll have to look that up...

Yes, what you're seeing since the spoiler alert is my actual train of thought, as I'm thinking it. Unedited. Admitting that I need to do more research before I complain that it really is a plot hole. :)

In conclusion...

This is my rambling post about how the quartet isn't quite what I rememebred, but I'm having fun. And having of which (about Pounce) will have me looking up info in the later Tortall books. :)


Toriz said...

It's not unusual for a writer's later work to be stronger than their earlier work.

Having not read the books (I'm curious about them, but haven't gotten around to getting them yet) I can't say for sure. However, with the cat thing I would guess it's a combination of the fact that Roger is very powerful and magical beings tend to be more easily effected by some things than others. Perhaps where cats are known for sleeping a lot a sleeping spell would be more effective on him than anything else? Just a thought...

Carrie said...

I'm almost positive there's going to be a third Beka Cooper book...I think I remember seeing on the prospective timeline on Tamora Pierce's website.

Also, hadn't Alanna's father died when she traveled through Trebond? I'm thinking that if that's the case, it wouldn't matter if any of her people recognized her. It would be a pretty dumb move to rat out your overlord in a medieval time, and there wasn't any other family to worry about. Besides, it had been so long since she was home that most of them probably wouldn't have recognized her anyway. Kids can change dramatically in a relatively short amount of time.

Sarita Rucker said...

Tori -- I'll see what other books say about on topics similar to what's up with the cat.

Carrie -- The third Beka Cooper is out. My question is whether there will be a fourth.

And I hadn't thought about it that way. Yes the father is dead, and I would expect people recognized Alanna since she talked to the steward about how things were going. Unless they thought she was her brother...? Ok, it seems slightly less unrealistic now.


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