We’re getting close now to the end of my Tamora Pierce review series. This series, known either as Trickster or Daughter of the Lioness, is the second-to-last series in the Tortall universe. As you might be able to tell by the alternate title, this series is about the daughter of Alanna the Lioness, the main character of Tamora Pierce’s first series.
The series revolves around Aly, daughter of Alanna and–oh, you thought I was going to tell you who Alanna ends up with? Nope, you’ll just have to read the books. Aly was originally introduced in the Immortals series as a little girl, but we never learned all that much about her. In this series, Aly is revealed to be rebellious, sarcastic, witty, and a bit like any normal, bratty teenager, even dyeing her hair blue at the beginning of the story. She wants to do one thing with her life, while her parents want her to do something else. The result is she does neither and instead acts up and cavorts with boys and the like. Pretty typical. But then she gets caught by slave traders and taken away to the Copper Isles, a country consisting of group of islands far off the coast of Tortall, and ironically it is there that she gets to be the person she was meant to be. Persuaded into acting on behalf of the Trickster god, she helps to liberate the Isles from under the control of a vicious and insane line of ruling conquerors and to restore the rightful indigenous ruler to the throne.
I won’t reveal much more about the plot because, while this series tends to move a bit more slowly than the others, the plot nevertheless builds all the way from the beginning. It’s more like a mystery than the other series. While we essentially know how the story will be resolved, we never really know what form that resolution will take.
This series is different from its companions in a few other ways as well. For one, it is a two-book series rather than a four-book series. To be fair, each book is approximately double the size of one book in Pierce’s original Song of the Lioness series. However, the difference is significant in that the story is structured to fit into two books rather than four. Also, we rarely see our beloved characters from the previous series. While they often played a large role in the previous series even when they weren’t the primary characters, here they don’t exert any real influence over the events that take place. Instead, the series focuses on a sprawling cast of new and interesting characters, ranging from the insane royal family, to a crow-turned-man, to the family Aly ends up with, to Aly herself.
In this series, while there is violence (fighting, backstabbing, murders, war), Aly is never truly on the front lines, and thus we don’t see much of it. Aly uses her position as a slave to become a spy master and protector. Nobody suspects a white slave who is not native to the Isles to play such a large part in a rebellion of the indigenous peoples, and thus she remains hidden in the shadows as she directs the rebels. In direct contrast to the other series, where the main characters fight their enemies directly, Aly rarely fights at all (at least in the traditional way). This extends to the final climactic battle scene. Aly’s primary role is to sit in a room, direct the troops, and take reports. We see very little of the actual battle, and it is over seemingly very quickly. While this feels slightly anticlimactic, it is nevertheless true to her character and to the story, so I can’t complain.
I didn’t expect to like this series as much as I did. I actually didn’t even read it until last spring, and the series has been out in its entirety since 2004. What mostly put me off when I read the basic plot summary was the slave aspect. I didn’t particularly want to read a book about slavery because often it’s not all that pleasant. Plus, I was afraid the combination of young adult-aimed book, teenage girl, and slavery would lead to a lot of angst, and that’s just not my thing. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by the series. The slavery aspect was not the primary focus of the series in terms of depictions of the horrible conditions of slavery. It was more of a plot device employed to get Aly to the Copper Isles, to get her into a certain family’s home, and to set up the social structure of the Isles, as well as provide a compelling reason for rebellion. And in fact, Aly was quite matter-of-fact about the whole ordeal. From the beginning she was confident she would get herself out without taking any time to lament her situation, and eventually she was acting as a slave completely willingly.
So, while I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite entry in the Tamora Pierce series, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and hope you will, too. If you don’t, maybe the next and last series will be more your style, especially considering that it is completely different from ALL of the other Tamora Pierce books (though I have serious issues with the end of the last book). But I’ll write about that in my next review.
To buy the first book for Kindle, go here.
To check out other books by Tamora Pierce, go here.
To read an interesting excerpt from a book about Tamora Pierce, her series, and the world of Tortall, go here.
If you read the Tricksters series, or if you have a different book that you’d like to recommend, please send your thoughts/review to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is Rebecca signing off. Over and out!