Thursday, April 21, 2011

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

Book Jacket

Disguised as a boy, Alanna of Trebond becomes a squire--to none other than the prince of the realm.  But Prince Jonathan is much more to Alanna; he is her ally, her best friend, and one of the few who knows that she's really a girl.  Now it will take all of Alanna's awesome skill, strength, and growing magical powers to protect him from the mysterious evil sorcerer who is bent on his destruction--and hers!

Here continues the story of Alanna, a young woman bound for glory who is willing to fight against enormous odds for what she believes in.


I don't think this one lived up to the awesomeness of Alanna: The First Adventure.  I love that Pierce is liberal with time--the first two books make up eight years of Alanna's life.  Its refreshing to breeze through a story, stopping only for momentous occasions.  But I thought In the Hand of the Goddess went a bit too fast.

Sarah Rees Brennan has a trilogy theory in which the second book is always the make out book.  So what if Pierce's series is technically four, and not three?  The second book definitely brought the making out.  And more.  Which was weird because I wasn't expecting such grown up behavior when last book she was only 12.  And that is why I felt this book went too quickly.  1)  I want to experience book romances, and I like when they are drawn out and enjoyed.  This one skipped most of the good stuff.  2)  We never really get to see Alanna mature.  She just suddenly is.  So the fact that she is now sleeping with people was kind of jarring.

In Pierce's defense, I've read an interview in which she said she included that plot point because it was historically accurate.  And yeah, I'm sure that sex was not made into this magical thing back then the way it is now.  So.  I don't know what my thoughts are, exactly.

BUT.  How funny is it that Jonathan basically echoed my thoughts at the end of Book 1.  "Obvs we are meant to be together, Alanna!"  Cuz they are.  It's all over the books, and I foresee that they are going to be the awesomest ruling couple in all of Tortall.

Okay, but then there's another thing I don't like.  Both of her friends who know she's a girl immediately love her.  What?  First, does that mean they were a little bit attracted to her when they thought she was a boy?  This never bothers them?  We don't get to see them process it?  And anyway, I know that Alanna is pretty much the coolest girl to ever ride around on a horse with a cat on her shoulder, but come on.  Two awesome boys fighting over you?  Pierce, YOU ARE ONLY BREAKING MY HEART, because I empathize with the loser of all love triangles far too strongly.

Enough of that.  In the Hand of the Goddess gets us from Alanna as a Squire to Alanna as a Knight, and I am super excited to see how that plays out, even if the interim wasn't super fantastic.  And yay for Alanna's identity coming out not being a big deal.  She proved she was cool enough that it didn't matter whether she was a girl or not.  Kudos to the royalty for realizing it.

Three out of five talking cats.

Release Date:  1984
Reading Level:  Grade 7+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL PIE

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of In the Hand of the Goddess:

The Thirteenth Chime
The Story Girl

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