YA Friday: Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce

Friday, April 29, 2011

Title: Trickster's Choice
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2003
Source: Audiobook from the library

It's no secret that I love Tamora Pierce - just look at my reviews page and see how many I have listed under her name. She was my favorite author in middle school, and I have really enjoyed rediscovering her books as an adult. I was thrilled to discover this book that I had never read about Alanna's daughter, Aly. (Incidentally, it was published the year after I started high school... too late for my middle school days!)

Aly is tired of her mother and father's prodding to "do something" with her life. All the options that are acceptable to George and Alanna Cooper seem boring to Aly. After a confrontation with her mother, Aly decides to go on a little sailing trip to escape home. However, she is kidnapped and sent to The Copper Isles to be sold as a slave. As she grows accustomed to life as a slave for the Balitangs, she catches the attention of Kyprioth, the Trickster god and patron god of the raka, the native peoples of the Copper Isles. Kyprioth makes a wager with Aly that, if fulfilled, will permit her to return home. However, this wager changes her life in ways she wasn't expecting.

I've already mentioned that I love Tamora Pierce, but this story delighted me more than any of her other books. The main reason for this is the characters. Aly is a fantastic, intriguing character. At the beginning of the book, I found myself relating to her inability to decide what she wants to do with her life and her family's disapproval of the one pathway she would enjoy, that of a spy for her father's extensive intelligence network. As someone who changed her major six times and her post-grad plans twice, I understand the struggle to decide on a life path. As the daughter of two very opinionated (and intelligent!) people, I also understand the frustration of facing disapproval or a lack of understanding of why you want that particular life path. Aly is very different from her mother, who dressed up as a boy at the age of twelve to become a knight and has always been driven and successful. I could relate to her as an adult - I'm sure teens could relate even more so. She's a little irresponsible, a little confused, enjoying the shock her father gets when he sees that she's dyed her hair blue. However, she isn't the jerk of an irresponsible teen that is often stereotyped in books. She has an attitude, but she is smart and hilarious. In short, she is the type of person I like to have as a friend.

In synchrony with her is the disgraced Trickster, Kyprioth - a sly, vain god of a people who have been displaced by invaders. Aly and Kyprioth's friendship develops along fascinating lines. Pierce has written other human-god relationships - Alanna is visited by her patron goddess, the Great Mother, multiple times in the Song of the Lioness novels - but for her and other Pierce characters, the experience is terrifying, humbling, what you would expect from meeting a god. Aly and Kyprioth's relationship is teasing, sarcastic, and at times frustrating to both of them.

Other interesting characters also fill the story. Dove and Sarai, the oldest Balitang children, are passionate, intelligent girls who befriend Aly even though she is their slave. Nawat, a crow who turns into a man (I know it sounds stupid - I was skeptical at first, but he really is a great character) is also fascinating as he tries to get accustomed to human nature and intrigue. There are no flat characters in this novel - they all have a life of their own and stand out vividly against the brightly colored backdrop of the Copper Isles.

The plot itself is also fascinating. Because Aly has spent her life surrounded by her father's spy network, she knows how to get information. The knowledge she acquires and the way she gets it are very interesting. We often get a view into Aly's thought process as she works out how to manipulate information from various players in the story. There is also an element of mystery involved, from deciphering why Kyprioth makes his wager with Aly in the first place to trying to find routes for her to win the wager.

I listened to this book on tape, and the performance was fantastic.Trini Alvarado (who plays Meg in Little Women), who has also read the other two Pierce books I have listened to, reads the book. While it is just one voice, she lends different inflections and personalities to all the characters without making them ridiculous or cheesy. She reads at a good pace as well. The only complaint I have with this book is the beginning, when the history of the conflict between the luarin and raka is described. Many dates and individuals were listed, and because I was listening, it was hard for me to keep them straight in my mind. However, the actual storyline of the book was easy to follow and delightful.

If you are a fan of Tamora Pierce or other young adult fantasy, you will definitely enjoy this book; however, I would recommend giving it a chance even if you aren't usually a fantasy fan. This is an excellent YA novel that won't disappoint.

Readability (listenability, haha) - A little confusing at first, but most of the plotline is easy to follow.
Plot: 5
Characters: 5
Writing: 4.5
Personal response: 4.5
Overall: 4.75


  1. I absolutely adored Tamora Pierce when I was in middle school. I loved the Alanna books and hearing that this book has a tie to that series definitely intrigues me.

  2. It is a good one to check out! I read all the Tamora Pierce books written when I was in middle school (about 12 years ago) and this one is definitely my favorite, even though I'm reading it now as an adult.


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