Pierce, Tamora. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (2005 ed.) 304 Pages. Simon Pulse. $6.99
Song of the Lioness: Book Three
Alanna of Trebond may have won her shield, but after everything she went through, she needs to get out of Corus for a while. With the paint on her shield still wet, she sets out for adventure. Having never been one to enjoy the cold, it’s not surprising that Alanna chooses to spend the winter down south in the Bazhir desert where it’s nice and warm. Well, she doesn’t exactly choose winter in the desert; she was aiming for Tyra and got waylaid.
To get to Tyra from Corus, it’s necessary to go through the Bazhir desert. Of course, with only half the Bazhir tribes recognizing the Tortallan king, and many of the desert’s residents being lawless hillmen, it’s a dangrous trip even for seasoned warriors. Unfortunately for Alanna, she and Coram are attacked by a group of hillmen who have a magical sword (which glows orange with the late Duke Roger’s magic) that breaks Lightning, leaving Alanna sad and swordless. The hillmen are attacked in turn by the Bloody Hawk Bazhir tribe, who take Alanna and Coram back to their camp.
At the Bloody Hawk camp, Alanna is recognized as the “Burning Brightly One” who helped defeat the Ysandir– she is now a legend to the Bazhir. However, the shaman is crazed, and claims that she is a liar (along with some other fun names). This culminates in a fight between Alanna and the shaman (Ibn Nazzir) where Alanna kills the man. Because of Bazhir law, the one who kills the shaman must become the shaman (at least until they can train a suitable replacement), so Alanna finds herself tied to a tribe when all she really wants to do is go on an adventure. There are three gifted teens in the camp- Ishtak, Kara, and Kourrem- who have never been trained to control their gift. Recognizing that untrained gifted teens could spell disaster for everyone in the tribe, Alanna declares them her successors and begins their training.
Jonathan and Sir Myles visit Alanna while she’s with the Bloody Hawk, and several things happen. Jonathan and Alanna renew (and end) their relationship. Sir Myles adopts Alanna, and Jon becomes The Voice of the Tribes. As soon as this is completed, Alanna flees the desert, heading to Port Caynn where she spends the summer avoiding Corus and Jonathan, instead focusing on George.
The end of the book sets us up for Lioness Rampant, as Alanna decides to go find the Dominion Jewel to save Tortall.
The Quick Version:
Like so many third-in-a-set-of-four novels, this book feels a bit like a bridge. A lot happens, and Alanna makes huge steps toward becoming the champion she is destined to be. She continues to grow in her sense of self, and her womanhood, and begins to truly embrace herself here. It’s a solid adventure, and it makes you want more. It gets a 4/5.