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.

Alanna: The First Adventure
In the Hand of the Goddess
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Lioness Rampant
AuthorTamora Pierce
CountryUnited States
GenreFantasy, young adult fiction
PublisherAtheneum Books
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
Followed byThe Immortals

The Song of the Lioness is a young adult series of 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]

"Noblewoman Alanna of Trebond, disguised as the boy "Alan", exchanges places with her twin brother Thom, to go to the royal palace in the city of Corus to train for knighthood, while Thom studies magic.[1] Within the four novels Alanna disguised as Alan struggles with gender identity, as well as going through puberty and bullying that she faces throughout all four books of the series. Throughout the four novels Alanna befriends characters of a wide background, George, the king of the thieves; the scholar Sir Myles of Olau; senior students Gareth (Gary) of Naxen, Raoul of Goldenlake, and Prince Jonathan of Conté; Princess Thayet of Sarain; Liam Ironarm, a martial-arts champion; and Buriram (Buri) Tourakom, Thayet's bodyguard. Her principal rivals are classmate Ralon of Malven, and Jonathan's kinsman Duke Roger, who becomes the chief antagonist in the final book. In the second volume, Alanna also acquires the magical cat 'Faithful', who accompanies her thereafter (Faithful is hinted to be an immortal, but his origins remain unknown.[2] By reason of her double identity, small size, inherent magic, and impatience, Alanna is often shown questioning her own character; but resolves these questions in the third book, in which she becomes an honorary member of the 'Bazhir' (a Bedouin-like ethnicity), through gaining unique acceptance because of her gender.[3] In the final volume, she becomes King's Champion to Jonathan and Baroness of the coastal estate Pirate's Swoop."[4]


  • Alanna of Trebond: The protagonist of the series: a noble-born, stubborn tomboy with bright, violet eyes and a wicked temper, but capable of earning loyalty. She is the first female knight in centuries in the land of Tortall, after pretending to be her brother, Thom, throughout her training.
  • Thom of Trebond: Alanna's twin: a powerful magician, but often arrogant, and ultimately destroyed by hostile advantage of his pride. Fellow-conspirator in creating 'Squire Alan', Alanna's alter-ego.
  • Coram Smythesson: Alanna's bodyguard and loyal servant, and lifelong caretaker; a former soldier and Alanna's fellow-conspirator. He later marries Rispah, George’s educated cousin and part of the Corus criminal underworld.
  • George Cooper: A clairvoyant thief, trickster, and fighter, who controls the capital city's criminal population as the King of Thieves; Alanna's friend, and periodically her lover; ultimately commissioned 'Baron of Pirate's Swoop' by King Jonathan, and (at the end of the last volume) married to Alanna.
  • Rispah Cooper: George's cousin and assistant, head of the Corus flower sellers; later Coram's wife; cheerful, decisive, and compassionate.
  • Jonathan of Conté: The crown prince of the kingdom Tortall, in which the story occurs: a ring-leader among the students trained in the capital. Alanna's friend, sponsor, and periodic lover; also an ally cultivated by George. Intelligent, handsome, charismatic, and decisive.
  • Gareth of Naxen the Younger (Gary): Jonathan's unofficial second-in-command among the students; a whimsical and sharp-tongued but intelligent character, and Alanna's closest friend.
  • Raoul of Goldenlake: A fellow-student of Jonathan and Gary's; Alanna's friend; large, taciturn, and shy.
  • Alex of Tirragen: A fellow-student of Goldenlake's; at first Alanna's friend, but later her rival. Slain by her in the final book.
  • Ralon of Malven: A fellow-student of Jonathan's. Established a spiteful rivalry with Alanna, and left the palace in shame after she beat him in a fight. He later became involved with the Court of the Rogue under the name 'Claw,' and was eventually slain by George Cooper.
  • Thayet jian Wilima (Later Thayet the Peerless or Thayet of Conté): An exiled Saren princess befriended by Alanna; later married to Jonathan; a deft horsewoman and archer. Graceful, intelligent, confident, and compassionate. Regarded as the most beautiful woman in the world.
  • Buriram Tourakom (Buri): Thayet's fiercely loyal bodyguard; later Raoul's amorous interest, (Protector of the Small series), and wife (in the Daughter of the Lioness Series.)
  • Liam Ironarm: A martial-arts champion, called the 'Dragon of Shang', who attaches himself to Alanna, alternately as lover and instructor. Slain by her enemies defending the Tortallan crown.
  • Duke Roger of Conté: Prince Jonathan's cousin and would-be usurper: suspected by Alanna in the first book, killed by her in the second, absent from the third, and resurrected in the fourth, wherein he is again killed by Alanna.



Pierce expresses the concept that boys and girls are alike. Our education system has a huge impact on boys and girls to modify themselves. Thus we should lead them to be what they want rather than constrain their creativity or put them into stereotypes which has been set by adult society. When it comes to adult society, Pierce points out that women's competence and contribution should be valued and respected. Because of gender inequity, women's contributions are often ignored, which is quite common in our society. She strongly calls for help to build a more fair and balanced society for men and women, boys and girls.

The series covers the life and development Alanna as she disguises herself as a male and has to exist in life as a male. This causes a lot of gender discussion as in the first book it is easy for her to disguise herself as a boy as she is still prepubescent. But in her first year of training to be a knight, Alanna goes through puberty and gets her first period. This causes quite a bit of discourse in Alanna as she struggles to identify herself as a female while living as a boy.[5] While she does come out to a select close few as female sometimes intentionally and other times not, she does still struggle with it, even as they encourage her to explore both sides she has available to her. This theme is one of the reasons the series received such a high feminist regard as it was very open and honest towards the female body and its limitations versus being able to push oneself beyond that.[6]


The series as a whole pays attention to the struggles Alanna has due to her small frame, or her magic abilities. The first book she spends half of it being beaten up by a bully and his friends. This theme being played up in the series has been a big part towards the use of these novels in classes as it teaches some of the faults towards bullying and what is wrong with it and why this book is worth teaching.[7]


  1. Alanna: The First Adventure
  2. In the Hand of the Goddess
  3. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
  4. Lioness Rampant

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • Margaret A. Edwards Award (The Song of the Lioness quartet)
    • Alanna: The First Adventure
      • Children's Book of the Month Club
      • 17th Annual New Jersey Writers Conference
      • Recommended Fantasy List- YA division of the American Library Association
      • Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults- Young Adult Library Services Association


American author Tamora Pierce published Alanna: The First Adventure, the first book in The Song of the Lioness quartet, in 1969. Tamora Pierce is said to have turned to writing at a young age as a means of escape from a troubled family life. Pierce drew much of her inspiration from other fantasy series such as The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Pierce set out to not only create an epic fantasy adventure, but to populate it with a strong female protagonist. Pierce saw the need for a female protagonist in the significant lacking of such heroes in the fantasy novels she enjoyed as a child, often stating that she wrote what she as a young-adult would have enjoyed. Originally, Pierce had written her acclaimed quartet as a single adult novel but, following editorial advice, rewrote it into the now famous young-adult fantasy series.[8][9][unreliable source?]


Pierce's book has been selected Recommended Fantasy List in June 1991, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults in 2003 and Young Adult Library Services Association by YALSA. Her book has also been nominated south Carolina Children's Book Awards from 1985 to 1986. She has won Bookworm's Prize by ZDF Schüler-Express.[10]

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 editor, Jean Karl, thought parts were too inappropriate for children and Tamora Pierce edited it into the present series.


  1. ^ Pierce, Tamora. Song of the lioness : Alanna : the first adventure. London. ISBN 9781782951629. OCLC 861360512.
  2. ^ Pierce, Tamora (2007). In the hand of the goddess. Alvarado, Trini. [New York, N.Y.]: Listening Library. ISBN 9780739330494. OCLC 81948226.
  3. ^ Pierce, Tamora (2002). The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. Peter Smith Publisher, Incorporated. ISBN 9780844672281. OCLC 635984929.
  4. ^ Pierce, Tamora (2002) [1988]. Lioness rampant. Alvarado, Trini. New York: Listening Library. ISBN 0807206105. OCLC 50493055.
  5. ^ Pierce, Tamora. Song of the lioness : Alanna : the first adventure. London. ISBN 9781782951629. OCLC 861360512.
  6. ^ Battis, Jes (2006). ""Transgendered Magic: The Radical Performance of the Young Wizard in YA Literature"". The Looking Glass. 10 (1).
  7. ^ Schmidt, Pauline Skowron; Stuntz, Jennifer; Hussack, Emilee (2014). "Carpe Librum: Seize the (YA) Book: Tough Talk: Books about Bullying". The English Journal. 103 (5): 83–85. JSTOR 24484253.
  8. ^ Kunzel, Bonnie. Tamora Pierce. Greenwood Publishing Group, 01 Jan 2007.
  9. ^ "Lessons in Rereading: Tamora Pierce's 'Song of the Lioness'". Literally, Darling. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  10. ^ "Honors and Awards - Tamora Pierce". Tamora Pierce. Retrieved 2018-06-27.