Soooo….Thanks to the Read Me Baby, 1 More Time reading challenge (oooh just remembered double score, because it totally counts towards the 2011 E-Book reading challenge, too!!!!), I have been totally binging on Tamora Pierce this summer. And thanks to Tamora Pierce, I’m at least half-way towards my 20 book goal (which is really just an excuse to savor some of my favorite re-reads that I’ve been craving).
|Me with Tamora Pierce, Ceritos, CA|
I have been reading Tamora Pierce since at least high school, possibly middle school. And while Sweet Valley didn’t quite transition with me, Tamora Pierce has never left my side. They’ve gone to college with me, and traveled with me after college to my first job on the east coast, then across the country, when I made a pit stop in Montana, and then when I made my way all the way to the west coast. They were with me when I lived in a tent, working in a remote camp just outside of Yosemite. I have stalked book stores for her books. And when my local bookstore didn’t one of her books the day it came out, I drove an hour away to get it. Twice. (The first time they’d unpacked it by the time I got home.)(The second time, I hadn’t been in Montana that long and there wasn’t a Barnes and Noble in town. Until I got back to town, I forgot there was a perfectly good Borders in the mall….My bad.)
Anyway, the point is I’m just absolutely in love with her books, and have been forever, and I usually reread at least one of her series every year… But their kind of like Pringles for me—Once I start reading once series, I want to reread them all. *sigh*
And now that they’re on my Nook…I can also add Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah to the places I’ve taken them. I took a little road trip last week, and even while I was sight-seeing, I got through about five of her books. And thanks to the power of Nook, as soon I finished one, I could switch to the next book (without digging through a backpack full of books in the backseat or the trunk!)!
And, after so many years, I was finally able to trick my sister into reading them, too!!!—Which means, I’ve double-read Alanna: The First Adventure twice in the past few weeks—I re-read it by myself, the first time a few weeks ago, and then again, reading aloud to my sister in the car on the way back home. Which is why I totally blame Tamora Pierce for our 2 ½ hour detour through Angeles National Forest. As we were coming to the end of the book (and a major fight scene), my sister, who is normally a homing pigeon (as oppose to me who gets hopelessly lost), suddenly missed a turn, and in trying to correct the turn, rerouted us through Angeles National Forrest. My sister was trying to avoid LA rush-hour. Which we did… By the time we got back to LA, (EXACTLY) where we had turned off, we had (TOTALLY) missed rush hour! And incidentally, for fans of Celebrity Apprentice, I now know where Meatloaf’s charity, The Painted Turtle, is located. Super awesome!!! ;)
Alanna: The First Adventure is the story of a girl who wants to be a knight. Except girls aren’t allowed to be knights. But instead of letting herself to be sent away to a convent school to learn how to be a lady, while her twin brother Thom becomes a knight, Alanna devises a switch—Thom, who was never interested in becoming a knight, and always dreamed of becoming a great sorcerer, is quick to agree to the switch—The convent school, in the City of the Gods, is also where children are sent to learn magic and sorcery. Through some trickery and threats of magic, Alanna and Thom are able to convince their servants to go along with the switch. Alanna cuts her hair, and is transformed into the mirror image of her brother, beginning one of the most fantastic adventures of a lifetime!
Alanna: The First Adventure is the first book in a quartet, and covers Alanna’s years as a page at the royal castle in Chorus, meeting some lifelong friends (George Cooper, Prince Jon, Gary, Raoul, Alex, Sir Myles, and the very dangerous Roger, Duke of Conté). Alanna struggles with not only learning the skills it takes to be a knight (archery, fencing, jousting), but also with being a small girl trying to keep up with much larger boys, and becoming a woman (against her will) at the same time she’s doing everything in her power to become the best boy/man/knight she can be. Alanna struggles with trying to uphold the code of chivalry, at the same time she’s lying to all her friends (and enemies) about who she really is. And she struggles with learning that war is not all glory and fun.
It’s Alanna’s struggles as much as her adventures, that make this such an enduring story for me. This is a fantastic adventure story all around, of fighting bullies and mages, and demons—but all of Alanna’s triumphs are rooted in the work and study she puts in, day and night, studying and practicing, and practicing, and practicing, to be the best. Because, while Alanna has a natural aptitude for most of the knightly skills she learns, she quickly finds that there are older and bigger boys who have already learned what she is learning now, and she can’t just rely on her natural aptitude if she wants to be the best. I find myself motivated and excited and energized every time I read Alanna’s story—wanting to go out and have my own adventures, to travel the world, to learn new things.
And after fifteen(ish) years of reading and re-reading a book over and over again, of practically knowing it by heart, of knowing what happens and what comes next, I still find myself staying up all night, turning the pages as quickly as my eyes and fingers will let me. And how many books can you say take your breath away and quicken your heartbeat, and capture your imagination every time, just as much as the first time?
Alanna: The First Adventure is one of the most thrilling, magical, fantastical adventures ever! I don’t know where you’ve been if you haven’t been reading Tamora Pierce, but I know all the places I’ve gone, thanks to her!
And the best thing about rereading one of my favorites? Is knowing all the good things still to come!