In the Hand of the Goddess

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This review is going to be a speedy one - busy time of year. But I want to keep up so I don't forget the details of the lovely books I have read.

In the Hand of the Goddess is the 2nd book in the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce (my review of the first book is here). Because this was a book I had already read, I decided to revisit it in the form of book-on-CD. Audio books tend to drive me crazy - my mind wanders, or I want to revisit a passage and can't. However, listening to this one on CD was delightful. I couldn't remember many details of the story, and Alanna's adventures had me excited for my weekly hour drive.

This story picks up where Alanna: The First Adventure leaves off. Alanna is now a squire to Prince Jonathan, her best friend. Because she is so small, she is constantly challenged to prove herself. When war breaks out with a neighboring kingdom, Alanna goes with her knight to battle. However, the war appears to be more than a border skirmish - sorcery and intrigue is involved, with almost certain betrayal within the kingdom. Add to this Alanna's fear of her upcoming Ordeal of Knighthood (which not everyone survives), her fear of love and her growing desires to dress and behave like a woman, and she has enough on her plate.

This book has more action than the first novel, with all of Alanna's conflicts and fears being confronted. The characters' personalities are very well-developed, even though adventures and plot are the main focus of this novel. We also get a little romance in this novel, as Alanna is pursued by not one but two admirers (who know that she is a woman). She has to face the conflict of her desire to be independent like a man and her own feelings of love.

I didn't like that Alanna's cat could talk. Talking animals seem kind of hokey to me, unless it's Redwall when all the animals could talk. I also didn't like that everyone was completely blind to the villain of this novel. At the end, the reason for this blindness is explained, but it still drove me a little crazy.

All in all, however, I had even more fun with this book than the last one. I don't usually read YA or fantasy, and it is nice to have a little break from the heavy stuff while I focus on school. If you need a good adventure or some lighter reading, give this adventure a try.

Accessibility/readability - Very.
Aesthetics/literary merit - 3. It's definitely a "just for fun" book. But it isn't written poorly by any means.
Plot - 4.5
Characters - 4.5
Personal response: 4
Overall: 4

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