The Song of the Lioness

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The Song of the Lioness
The Song of the Lioness - Alanna The First Adventure - Cover.jpg
Original Atheneum U.S. hardcover of the first book.
Author Tamora Pierce
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fantasy, Young-adult fiction
Publisher Atheneum Books
Published 1983-1988
Media type Print (hardback and paperback)
Followed by The Immortals

The Song of the Lioness is a series of young adult fantasy novels published in the 1980s by Tamora Pierce. The series consists of four books: Alanna: The First Adventure (1983), In the Hand of the Goddess (1984), The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (1986) and Lioness Rampant (1988).

Plot Summary[edit]

Alanna of Trebond is meant to go to a convent to learn to be a lady, but she wants to be a knight. Therefore she, disguised as the boy "Alan", swaps places with her twin brother Thom, to go to the royal palace in the city of Corus to try for knighthood. Throughout the four novels Alanna meets many friends, including George, the charming and mischievous King of Thieves; the lovable but unkempt scholar Sir Myles of Olau; sharp Gareth "Gary" of Naxen; gentle giant Raoul of Goldenlake; beautiful Princess Thayet of Sarain; deadly Liam the Shang Dragon; Prince Jonathan of Conte, Alanna's best friend and sometimes lover; and the lovely but dangerous Buri, Thayet's bodyguard.

She also meets several foes, including Ralon of Malven, another knight-in-training; and Duke Roger of Conte, Jonathan's charming but sly cousin, who is later portrayed as an ambitious and murderous madman. Alanna also acquires a new pet—her mysterious black cat Faithful, who, true to his name, keeps her from harm. Faithful is hinted to be an immortal, but his origins remain unknown. (In the Beka Cooper trilogy it is guessed that Faithful—also known as Pounce—is a constellation named The Cat that has come down to earth.)

Throughout the series, Alanna develops a relationship with her patron deity, the Great Mother Goddess, who watches over her, gives her an ember stone token, and sends Faithful to protect her and be her companion. Alanna's rapport with the Great Mother Goddess allows her to help save her friend when a deadly sickness threatens his life, and it is her token that gives Alanna the advantage to defeat her magical foes.

Besides her physical battles (overcoming her ineptness with a sword and learning to use her small stature to her own advantage), she also has trouble accepting her sex, magic, and overcoming both her temper and her stubbornness, which gets her frequently into trouble. She becomes emotionally entangled with George, Jonathan, and Liam, and matures as a result. After being adopted into a Bahzir tribe, she learns to embrace her magic as part of her and use it, learning to wield it wisely without fear.

The quartet is not only a journey for Alanna from page to knighthood and beyond, but also a trial in accepting who and what she is without reservation. Her own transition into womanhood is initially a challenge for Alanna, but it is the love, loss, and learning of the quartet that eventually strengthens her and allow her to live her life as she desires.


  • Alanna of Trebond: The protagonist of the series, she is first seen as a stubborn, short-tempered tomboy of ten who desire nothing more than to be a knight, and who convinces her twin brother to switch places with her so that she can pretend to be a boy and therefore earn her knighthood. Fiercely loyal and proud, she is treated with affection by her friends, who rally to protect her even when she declares that she doesn't need their help. As the series progresses, some of her relationships turn into romantic ones, and her womanly sides are shown. She can be tender, though she is usually awkward as she tries to balance her femininity with her masculine knighthood. Inexperienced in romantic love and extremely blunt, she goes through her romantic relationships with all her heart, which endears her permanently to all of her lovers.
  • Thom of Trebond: Alanna's twin; he is proud and arrogant to the point of being obnoxious and ambitious. His pride leads him to return Duke Roger, (the prince's evil cousin whom Alanna killed), to life after Delia, a beautiful cohort of Roger, goads him with the taunt that only the strongest and most powerful sorcerers and sorceresses can return the dead to life. He truly and strongly loves no one but himself and his twin sister Alanna, and eventually dies in Lioness Rampant.
  • Coram Smythesson: Alanna's big, burly, and lovable servant, he is a trained veteran of war and a skilled combatman. He used to work in the forges for the king. Fiercely protective of Alanna, he is more of a father to her than her true father is, as well as a trainer, a friend, and a gruff big brother. Despite the fact that she has been romantically involved with several men, he is protective of her reputation and heart, which leads him to treat Liam Ironarm, (a man interested in Alanna), rudely at first. He later marries Rispah, George's cousin and the Queen of the Rogue's Ladies.
  • George Cooper: George Cooper is not traditionally handsome, but his hazel eyes, long drawl and irrepressible charm makes him just as attractive as the more traditionally beautiful Jonathan. The youngest King of the Rogue in the history of Tortall, he possesses the magical Sight that allows him to "see more clearly than most," quite similar to clairvoyance. A highly skilled user of knives and an expert in hand-to-hand combat, with many other fighting talents as well, he is a teacher and romantic lover to Alanna, and eventually becomes her husband after retiring as the King of the Rogue and becoming Jonathan's spymaster.
  • Jonathan of Conte: The crown prince and only child of the King and Queen of Tortall, Jonathan is described as extremely handsome, with black hair and light blue eyes. Sure of himself to the point of being arrogant, his "princeliness" causes him to romantically fall head-over-heels in love with Alanna, who is one of the only ones who will make him laugh and tell him the honest, blunt truth. However, it also causes them to clash and ultimately break up when he accuses her of being "unwomanly" and she realizes that she cannot stand the idea of being a queen.
  • Gareth of Naxen the Younger (Gary): Intelligent and quick, Gary possesses a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue. He's a good friend to Alanna, whom he finds hilarious, and suspects that she has a secret from the very beginning, though he doesn't figure it out until she tells him of her true gender.
  • Raoul of Goldenlake: Raoul, another friend of Alanna's, is ridiculously big and friendly. He hates social events and, along with Alanna, will hide and avoid them at whatever cost. He loves Alanna as a friend and protectively beats up a boy who bullies her, even though she refuses to admit that she is being mistreated.
  • Alex of Tirragen: A friend of Alanna who turns into a cohort of Duke Roger after becoming his squire, he is described as being, "dark, and quiet, like a cat." Unlike Alanna, though, who is also described as a cat, Alex is secretive. A brilliant swordsman and Raoul's former best friend, he develops an obsession with beating Alanna after her skills threaten to surpass his.
  • Thayet jian Wilima (Later Thayet the Peerless or Thayet of Conte): Later hailed, "the Peerless" as well as the "most beautiful woman in the world," Thayet is a runaway princess from a country at war. Courtly, gracious, and queenly, she is able to take care of herself and has a love for the common people. When she marries Jonathan and becomes queen of Tortall, she starts a chain of reforms that anger many conservatives, including instigating public schools and giving more rights to servants. Thayet is a deft horsewoman as well as a good archer.
  • Rispah: George's cousin, she is witty, buxom, and kind, as well as the leader of the Rogue's Ladies. She later becomes Coram's wife.
  • Liam Ironarm: The Shang Dragon, (a title that pronounces him a master with martial arts,) he has green eyes that change color and a charm that draws women to him. He takes liking to and decides to pursue a romantic relationship with Alanna, despite being afraid of magic.
  • Duke Roger of Conte: Prince Jonathan's handsome, powerful cousin, he is hailed to be one of the best sorcerer's in Eastern Lands. Clever and patient, he aims to kill off Jonathan, the King, the Queen, and all that keep him from the throne. Duke Roger is a skilled reader of people, and he too suspects that Alanna has a secret, though he doesn't figure it out until their duel in "In the Hand of the Goddess." What he does know is that she doesn't trust him, which leads him to first try to get her to join his side, then have her killed, then blind her suspicions with sorcery. He is killed by Alanna in a duel in "In the hands of the goddess" but later resurrected by Thom, who wanted to prove his power.

The Books[edit]

1. Alanna: The First Adventure

2. In the Hand of the Goddess

3. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Set mainly in the Great Southern Desert with the Bazhir Tribes)

4. Lioness Rampant

Publishing Information[edit]

Alanna: The First Adventure, was first published in 1983 by Atheneum Books, and then Random House Inc. The following books were published in 1984, 1986, and 1988, respectively. The series started out as a 732 page novel titled the Song of the Lioness, but her director thought parts were too inappropriate for children and Tamora Pierce edited it into the present series.