The Compulsive Reader: The Wonderful, Wonderful World of Tortall

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Wonderful, Wonderful World of Tortall

One of my absolute favorite series in the world is Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Quartet. I discovered it when my grandmother promised to buy me a book at the Hallmark store, and was able to only find the first book in the series, Alanna: The First Adventure. Sounds cheesy, I know...but, I can say with absolute certainty that they are some of my favorite books of all time, and probably of my most-read books. I wish I could climb into a wardrobe and come out in Tortall. (Not to say Narnia isn't cool...I'd take it as a second choice, for sure.)

Lucky for eleven-year-old me and my insatiable book appetite, Pierce had three more books about Alanna, and then two more quartets, a duet, and a trilogy all centered around the fantastical land of Tortall. I devoured and adored them all and I am quick to recommend them to everyone looking for great fantasy books with strong heroines, complicated plots, and some breathtaking adventure.

However...if you're a stickler for order (like I totally am), getting into Pierce's books can be a bit hard. Not only do the books in the series have an order, but the series themselves have an order as well. So, here is your comprehensive guide to Tamora Pierce's Tortall books...enjoy!

Song of the Lioness Quartet

This series was Pierce's first, and the closest to my heart (and yes, that sounds extremely cheesy, I know) and it tells the story of Alanna, who dreams of becoming the first woman knight in Tortall. The first book is Alanna: The First Adventure (I know, not the best title, what whatever. The book is amazing), and is followed by In the Hand of the Goddess. The third book is The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and finally, Lioness Rampant. It's an amazing, powerful series that has long been held as the epitome of YA fantasy in my mind. The covers are getting re-vamped and will be released next month (just in time for Christmas!), and I think this is the first time I have really liked any of them! So far only the first one has been revealed, and I am looking forward to seeing the rest.

The Immortals Quartet

This series picks up a few years after Lioness Rampant leaves off, and introduces a whole new set of characters. Daine, the protagonist, is a young mage with strange powers and the ability to speak to animals. Though it is definitely its own unique series, Alanna and the characters from her series do make quite a few appearances! The first book is Wild Magic, then Wolf-Speaker. In the third book, Emperor Mage, Daine and her friends explore some of the lands beyond Tortall. The final book in this quartet is In the Realms of the Gods.

The Protector of the Small Quartet

Picking up some years after The Immortals, this quartet is all about Kel and her dream to become like her heroine, Alanna, and become a knight. But her journey comes with its own set of unique challenges far different from Alanna's. Once again, characters from the previous two quartets also make an appearance! The books are First Test, Page, Squire, and Lady Knight.

Trickster's Duet

These two books are different from the previous three series in that they are longer books, and they don't take place in Tortall. However, they follow Aly, Alanna's daughter, and her misadventures as she becomes a spy. These are, in my opinion, Pierce's best books thus far. However, if you don't like spoilers, seriously...read Alanna's books first! The first is Trickster's Choice, and the second Trickster's Queen.

The Legend of Beka Cooper Trilogy

Pierce's first Tortall trilogy is also different from her previous books in that it is actually set in Tortall 200 years before Alanna's time. You don't necessarily have to read any of the above books before enjoying these books, but I read these later, and I prefer this order. They are about Beka Cooper, a peacekeeper in the capital of Tortall, and trials and struggles. Fun fact--Beka is an ancestor to a very important character in the Tortall books! The first one is Terrier, the second one Bloodhound (just came out in paperback, I believe), and the third one has yet to be released, but it will be titled Mastiff!

Also, soon to be released is Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Stories. As I understand it, it's like an anthology of all of Pierce's Tortall stories in one place, which will fill in gaps of time and such. I am very excited for this one--I haven't ever read a short story set in Tortall, and I am eager to see what will be in it.

Pierce is also writing more Tortall series, yet to be released. The next one will be about Numair, Daine's tutor in The Immortals Quartet, and his youth. He's a very itnerestiong character, and I am eager to learn more about him. Later, Pierce will also release an untitled series about a character, Maura, in the second book of The Immortals. She was a fun character, and I am eager to learn more about her!

So...there you have it. If you love fantasy, you are set when it comes to Tamora Pierce. I hope this guide helped you a bit. Keep in mind that these are only maybe a little over half of Pierce's books though...she has a whole other series set in another fictitious world and I've barely brushed the surface of that one! Enjoy!


Maggie said...

I read her as a kid also, and actually prefer the first three series more than the last two. However, there is one version of the harback cover that I love which I found in a used bookstore (not as good as the original paperback covers IMHO). Marilee Heyer is the artist, but they are difficult to find.

fantasylover12001 said...

Pierce is one of my favorite writers who, as far as I'm concerned, can not write a bad book. But apparently I'm the only one who likes the Circle of Magic series a tad bit more then Tortall. Weird.

Madeleine said...

I love Tamora Pierce, and have all her books, Tortall, Circle of Magic, the lot. I grew up reading them, and can't wait for the next one.

Lauren said...

You just read my book-loving heart. I adore Tamora Pierce's books, and I agree with every thing you said about each of the series, and the order, etc. I've been working on squiring all of the Tortal books over the past year or two, and LOVE them.

I read Daine's books first (almost out of order), and conveniently forgot who Alanna ended up with by the time I got to her series. It definitely helps to read the series chronologically, and makes it even more exciting when old characters make cameos :)

I adore Alanna's series the most, I think because it is the base of the entire world (And Alanna kicks butt). But it's also nice to see the writing style improve over time.

I am super-excited for Mastiff and for the anthology/Numair books. Thank the goddess Tamora Pierce writes so many amazing books!

(Please forgive the long post, I don't usually get to rant like this)

Kristen said...

I didn't discover Tammy's books until I was 19 but I ate them all up. She's a fantastic writer and her characters really are wonderfully strong women who I love to revisit frequently.

Alison Can Read said...

Oh wow. Thanks so much for this post! I've never read Pierce, but have been wanting to check her out as I continue to get more and more into high fantasy. I didn't know where to start and now I do.

Sara Kankowski DeSabato said...

I heart Tamora Pierce! I still have vivid memories of being in middle school and first discovering her books. She was the first author I read that made me want to be a writer myself, and made me think that the types of stories I liked to write (fantasy, with girl characters) were possible in the publishing world.

Plus, nothing can get a good squee out of my like In The Realm of the Gods...

Jennifer said...

Love those books! My favorites would be the Trickster's Duet and the Immortal's Quartet. I haven't gotten around to reading the Beka Cooper books, yet, though. I need to.

Small Review said...

I still haven't read any Tamora Pierce books (I know, shameful!). I really need to get around to fixing this travesty. I never really knew where to begin and probably would have started with First Test because that's the one my library has. Now I know better. Your post is really helpful.

Lana said...

I absolutely adore Tamora Pierce's books. I wrote a little tribute to the books a few years ago in time for the 25th anniversary of Alanna, and I'm always so pleased to see others talk about how much they love the Tortall series. And I've got to say, I'm ridiculously excited for the new Tortall book!