Friday, March 21, 2014

March Madness: Song of the Lioness Quartet Discussion

Here we are in March and I haven't written a review since early January. Such is life, I suppose.
For a few months now, Liz from Assorted Leafs and I have talked about doing a focused book discussion month. We're finally getting to that and starting with one of our favorite authors - Tamora Pierce

Nostalgia Factor x100: My first book!
Now, I panned Battle Magic as something awful, but that's the exception, not the rule. Tamora Pierce has always been a favorite author. She has a rich and prolific writing resume and stands as one of the best authors for character-driven stories with awesome female AND male characters.

Disclaimer: Liz included a disclaimer on her page about our discussion including spoilers, but, seriously, the first book in the series was released in 1983. If the book is older than I am, no disclaimers for you. 

I will give a disclaimer that I haven't read this series in more than a year, so my answers are a little vague. I promise to make that up with the remaining series. Serieses? Seri? All the rest of the bookies. 

Our first series is Song of the Lioness, which has four books to it; 
Alanna: The First Adventure 
In the Hand of the Goddess 
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man 
 Lioness Rampant. 

This was Pierce’s first book series, the first book series in her Tortall Universe, and was originally a single novel written for adults. At the suggestion of her agent, she broke the original manuscript into four books and rewrote them for young adults. If you ask her about the original manuscript, she'll tell you it's lost somewhere in the annals of time, which is a shame. I'd love to read it.

I'm wearing the lovely shade of BLUE, as always, while my cohort, Liz, rocks GREEN. I've tried to wrangle the formatting, but there might be some weird spots because this was originally written in Google Docs. 

As a complete aside, this series has been reprinted many times and every.single.time, there was awesome cover art. I've highlighted a few of my favorite throughout this post, but I highly suggest you Google for the rest of it. 

What was your favorite book from the series and why?
Brittany: I would have to go with the first book because I have epic amounts of nostalgia attached to that book and I will never, ever stop loving it. It always sticks me.
Liz: I would say the last book, Lioness Rampant, as there were a lot of conclusions in it that really completed the story for me. It left a lot of warm fuzzies and I kind of always loved who she wound up with in the end.

Who was your favorite character?
Brittany: George’s mom! She’s such a strong character and obviously has gone through a lot to raise a good human in George. I was super excited to read the Beka Cooper series because she has a cameo.
Liz: George’s mom was GREAT, but I have a close tie between Alanna and George; I’d rather say that my favorite relationship was between George and Alanna. Their dynamics and moments were great.

How did you experience the series? Were you immediately drawn into the story--or did it take you a while?
Brittany: A friend recommended the series to me when we were in the 9th grade. In addition to cementing a lifelong friendship that I still have to this day, it was one of the first stories that I read with a female character who knew who she was, what she wanted, and had no time for any BS, including romantic relationships. I devoured the whole series and every Pierce book I could find after that.
Liz: Back in my middle school days, I read close to 25 books a month or so. I was a very avid, enthusiastic reader. As such, I antagonized my favorite librarians into recommending books to me which led me to The Song of the Lioness Quartet. While I read the series, it made me feel like I could take on the world. I was immediately drawn to follow Alanna’s story as she was courageous to fight for who she wanted to be rather than accept what she was expected to be. I enjoyed the strength of the relationships that Alanna forged and did little else until I finished the series.

Do you find Alanna to be a convincing character?
Brittany: I do, because she’s so focused on being a great knight that she ends up flawed in other ways
Liz: I find Alanna to be a convincing character because of the dynamics between her strengths and flaws. She seems to be a much more realistic character because of it and there are plenty of reasons throughout the stories that made me want to rally behind her rather than scoff at her.  

Who in this book would you most like to meet? What would you ask—or say?
Brittany: George Cooper and his mom. They just seem like very open, welcoming people.
Liz: I would like to meet Thom, Alanna’s twin brother, just to see if there was more to his story. I was curious to find out how his training was and who he had made friends with or what his daily life had been like.

Consider the ending. Did you expect it or were you surprised? If you could rewrite the ending, would you? In other words, did you find the ending satisfying? Why or why not.
Brittany: I will admit it’s been awhile since I read the entire series, but with the way Pierce writes her world, Alanna’s story is still continuing. I like where she’s gone as a character, as seen through the eyes of her daughter, and that she’s still a solid, independent character who didn’t fall into the trap of becoming a faceless parent-character.
Liz: I did like the ending because I felt like there were enough endings to many of the characters I had come to know yet it left it open enough where there could be more stories about Alanna. With her personality, I have no doubt that her adventures continue (as we see in the Trickster’s Duology) but there was enough to know that her life had reach a happy point where she could forge forward to have a good life, if not a little chaotic.

If you were to talk with the author, what would you want to know?
Brittany: What are the primary differences between the series as it was published and how it was written when it was an adult fantasy novel?
Liz: If you could go back and rewrite any parts of the series, what would they be and why?

Happy book discussions and reading month!

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