Review: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Title: Alanna: The First Adventure
Author: Tamora Pierce
SeriesSong of the Lioness #1
Publisher: Atheneum Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 1983
Pages: 249
Format/Source: Paperback/Gifted from a friend 

Age Group/Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy

From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

I didn’t read Alanna until I was an adult. One of the girls in my old book club picked it as our selection for one month in early 2011, and I (and many of the other girls in the book club) really enjoyed it. But I never got around to reading the rest of the series. Then last year, I decided to buy the rest of the series so that one day I could binge-read them all. And then I decided to join in on the A Series A Month Reading Challenge and I knew that this would be a great series for that challenge. I ended up not finishing the whole series within the month of February but I’ll explain that in a later review.

I still enjoyed Alanna about as much as I enjoyed it the first time I read it. I had forgotten that this book is more Middle Grade than Young Adult (but the next couple of books in the series are definitely YA), but I enjoy Middle Grade so it wasn’t a big deal. I think there are some great themes within the book, like gender equality and fighting your own battles, and I also enjoyed the fact that Alanna realizes that adults don’t always have the answers.

The only issue I really had with the book dealt with the passage of time. The book spans several years, and sometimes time passed really quickly, where she seemed to have one birthday right after the other, and other times it seemed to pass rather slowly. And at times it seemed like the timeline was off, like there were errors. But perhaps it was just my own mental calculations.  

Bonus Points…

Tamora Pierce gets some of my bonus points for the following reasons:

  • A map in the front of the book (50,000 points)
  • Hidden passageways (50,000 points)
My rating for Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce:
4 stars. I think it’s a great start to an interesting and magical story, and it’s one I’ll definitely want my sons to read when they are older.
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Simon & Schuster

Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift from a friend. I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. Micheline D

    April 21, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I had an issue with the way time passed here as well! I wanted to know what happened during those time jumps, even if it was only minor! I wish the narrative would have stuck to Alanna as a younger character but it's obvious that Pierce always meant to tell the story of her as a woman. Which is a shame because this is easily my favorite book in the series. I was let down by the rest too. Lovely review Andrea :)

  2. Kate Midnight Book Girl

    April 21, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I'm not usually into MG, but I seem to like high fantasy MG so I'd probably enjoy this series… not that I need to start another series! ;) Hope the rest of the series is good!

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