Lioness Rampant

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Lioness Rampant is the final book in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet, and the main reason I reread the series. It was published in my birth year, and is the final book in the Birth Year Challenge (I know, it ended December 31. Fortunately I just needed to have read the book by then, not written the review!)

Lioness Rampant is the account of Alanna's first true knightly quest. While she has had some adventures living with the Bazhir and acting as their shaman, she is restless now to complete a "real" adventure. When she hears tales of the Dominion Jewel, a mystical object rumored to make a good ruler invincible, she knows she needs it for her friend Jonathan, the future king of Tortall (and her ex-lover with whom she is currently pretty awkward). On her journey to find the Jewel, Alanna meets Liam, a Shang warrior so deadly he doesn't need weapons to defend himself. Once Alanna returns to Tortall, she finds that much has changed while she was adventuring, and the security of the kingdom is at stake.

This book seemed like it should have been two shorter stories rather than one novel. It seems to be divided in half - in the first part, Alanna seeks the Dominion Jewel. In the second part, she helps Jonathan save his kingdom and acquires a new role as King's Champion. They were both enjoyable stories, but the part of the book that connected the stories was slow. The middle section described court intrigues and plots against the king, which were important to the story, granted, but seemed out of place with the rest of the story. I expected action, and I got seven or eight clandestine meetings.

I also felt like some of the characters could have been better developed, in particular Alex of Tirragen. I had a hard time connecting the malicious Alex in Lioness Rampant to Alanna's good friend in previous books. In the previous books, he did sometimes challenge her in ways that led to injury, and he was the squire of Alanna's arch-nemesis, Duke Roger. However, in the previous books, he seems to still really like her, despite his competitiveness. In this book, he is completely against her. I was left wondering why and when the complete transition took place.

I did really enjoy the further development of Alanna's character, especially in her relationship with others. She becomes romantically involved with Liam, despite continuing feelings for George Cooper, her best friend and the king of thieves, who is currently defending his title against the mysterious and nasty Claw (see what I mean about too many intrigues? Hard to keep them all straight!) Alanna learns through this new relationship that attraction and passion do not necessarily lead to a good partnership - lovers need to accept everything about each other to truly love each other.

Alanna also continues to develop more friendships with women, a species basically unknown to her until she revealed herself after becoming a knight. While she spent time with women in the Bazhir tribes, in Lioness Rampant she has her first opportunities to befriend women more similar to her - Thayet, a princess and exile from her homeland, and Buri, a trained K'miri warrior.

Lioness Rampant had many twists and surprises in who was actually plotting against the king, as well as the unexpected return of several of her enemies. The book was definitely a fun read, but I think it was my least favorite of Song of the Lioness. Still, rereading this series has shown me that I didn't just enjoy the books because they were exciting when I was in middle school - these really are great stories. I'm glad I got the opportunity to read this as my final Birth Year Challenge choice!

Accessibility/readability - Easy to read.
Literary merit/Aesthetics - 3
Plot- 3
Characters - 3
Personal response: 3
Overall: 3

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like maybe the author tried to do too much in a single book here. There is a lot going on! But it's nice that you enjoyed revisiting it, even so.


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