Pierce, Tamora. Lioness Rampant (2005 ed.). 400 Pages. Simon Pulse. $6.99
Song of the Lioness: Book Four
Tamora Pierce wrote quartets, until (as she said) Harry Potter taught publishers that children would read longer volumes. I’ve read this series many times over the years, and this volume is both my favorite and my least favorite. It’s sad, and it’s triumphant, and things are dramatic and terrifying, but they also end well. Alanna is a strong protagonist, and she’s really finished growing up at the end of this novel, becoming the legend which we know she will be.
Alanna of Trebond and Olau is on an adventure to retrieve the Dominion Jewel. They’re in Maren, on the trail of the jewel, and their journey is just beginning. In Berat, Alanna meets Liam Ironarm, the Shang Dragon; “People like you change the world; a smart man keeps track of such folk” (12) he says. Shortly after meeting Liam, Alanna has her second encounter with the Great Mother Goddess, who presents her with the question “who will you be, Alanna?” (19). Unfortunately, Alanna doesn’t know who she will be, or what she wants, or even what she is truly capable of (not yet, anyway). All she knows is that she has a map that needs to be translated, and a need to be somewhere, anywhere besides Tortall.
Before she knows it, she’s on a great adventure, one that takes her through war-torn Sarain to the Roof of the World. By retrieving the Jewel, Alanna hopes to prove to the world that she’s a warrior in her own right, that she never used her Gift to cheat her way to her shield, that she is truly a force to be reckoned with. So, armed with a map, and her knightly skills, leading her motley troop of herself, Coram, Faithful, and Liam Ironarm, she heads through Sarain where she picks up even more strays.
Alanna’s strays are Princess Thayet and Buriram Tourokom, who are fleeing from Thayet’s father, the Warlord of Sarain. They decide to join forces with Alanna, and follow her to Chitral’s Pass, where the Dominion Jewel is supposedly held.
Of course, there’s more going on than Alanna’s quest. In Corus, much is going on; Queen Lianne has died, and King Roald died not long after. Jonathan is King, but has not been crowned yet. Thom has gotten himself into more trouble than he can handle, and is dying. The people are convinced that Jonathan’s reign is cursed– there has been famine and plague since Alanna left Corus. George is struggling with issues of his own, and there is a plot against Jonathan within the palace. Things go a little sideways, toward the end. There is a huge battle, and many characters are left dead. The ending, despite the deaths, is hopeful.
The Series as a Whole:
This was my first Tamora Pierce series, back when I was in middle school. My friends and I read it, and traded it and read it again until all of our books were worn thin, and we all knew the stories by heart. It really is ideal for middle schoolers, but it manages to be a book which adults can enjoy as well. It’s hard to outgrow a series like this, and because of its enduring re-readability, it gets a 4.5/5.
The Quick Version:
Alanna really comes into her own in this book. She finishes growing up, goes on a great adventure, and learns to balance Woman and Warrior. She makes a name for herself, and she changes the world. This is my very favorite from the series, and scores a 5 out of 5, because I love it so very much (even if I always cry at the end).
On other notes, as I was flipping through my book, looking for the bibliographic information, I learned that it’s an autographed copy (which is way more exciting than I ever expected, even considering that it’s signed to “Kelli” and not to me). I got it second-hand though Swaptree not too long ago, and though I don’t think I got it from the Kelli it was signed to, it’s still pretty sweet. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get one signed to me, and I’ll be the happiest book nerd ever.