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Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 767 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Song of the Lioness Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn't meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden--a female knight. But in the land of Tortall, women aren't allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court. Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil... somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret?

With Alanna: The First Adventure, veteran fantasy author Tamora Pierce has created a lively, engaging heroine who will charm middle-school readers with her tomboyish bravado and have them eagerly searching for the next book in the Song of the Lioness series. Like Brian Jacques's tales of Redwall, this popular quartet is an entertaining fantasy series for younger teens. (Ages 10 to 13) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Actress Trini Alvarado, known for her roles in such films as Little Women and Paulie: A Parrot's Tale, superbly narrates this unabridged audio version of Alanna: The First Adventure (Atheneum, 1983), the first book in the popular The Song of the Lioness quartet. Tamora Pierce's story of Alanna, a girl of noble birth who disguises herself as a boy in order to become a knight, is a spirited fantasy/adventure that is only made more captivating by Alvarado's lively performance. Alvarado brings Alanna's determined, yet at times insecure character to life. By utilizing several accents, she deftly distinguishes the many supporting characters from one another. The quality of the audio is clear, and the reading is well paced. Pairing Alvarado's vocal talents with Pierce's well written and engaging story makes this a quality audiobook worthy of inclusion in any audio collection.-Lori Craft, Downers Grove Public Library, IL

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 690 (What's this?)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689878559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689878558
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (767 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tamora Pierce is a bestselling author of fantasy books for teenagers. Her books, known for their teenaged girl warriors and wizards, have received critical acclaim and a strong fanbase.


Tamora Pierce was drawn to books from a young age. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, the child of a "long, proud line of hillbillies," her family never had much. "We were poor, but I didn't know it then. We had a garden where my folks grew fruit and vegetables and our water came from a well," she explains. But one thing they did have was plenty of books. So Tamora read.

A self-proclaimed "geek," she devoured fantasy and science fiction novels, and by the age of 12 was mimicking her literary idols and writing her own action-packed stories. It was thanks to her father that Tamora began writing. "He heard me telling myself stories as I did dishes, and he suggested that I try to write some of them down," Pierce says.

But Tamora's novels had one major difference: unlike the books she was reading, her stories featured teenaged girl warriors. "I couldn't understand this lapse of attention on the part of the writers I loved, so until I could talk them into correcting this small problem, I wrote about those girls, the fearless, bold, athletic creatures that I was not, but wanted so badly to be."

Seventeen years later, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, a brief career in teen social work and some time spent writing for radio, Tamora Pierce held true to her childhood crusade, and published Alanna: The First Adventure, the first in a quartet about a valiant, young, female warrior. Pierce's heroine struck a chord with readers across the country and quickly earned her a loyal following.

Pierce is now a #1 New York Times bestselling author and has written twenty-five books, including her newest, BEKA COOPER #2: Bloodhound. "It's a pretty good life, if I do say so myself. Struggling along as a kid and even through my twenties, it's the kind of life I dreamed of but never believed I would get. Yet here I am, after a lot of work, a lot of worry, a lot of care for details, and a massive chunk of luck, the kind that brought me such strong friends and readers. Pretty good for a hillbilly, yes? And I never take it for granted," she says.

Pierce lives in upstate New York with her husband Tim and their three cats and two birds.


"[Tamora Pierce's heroines] faithfully reiterate an ideal of feminine power that relies on brains, not beauty; of feminine attractiveness that relies on competence, not helplessness; and of feminine alliances that grow stronger, not weaker, in the face of conflicts." -The New York Times


"With its rollicking adventures [and] appealing characters . . . Terrier will be in strong demand by Pierce's fans. It will keep readers on the edge of their seats." -School Library Journal, Starred

"Memorable characters and well-drawn settings. . . . This timely and appealing anthology will surely help swell the ranks of teenage fantasy readers." -School Library Journal

"The plot sweeps readers along in a whirlwind of court intrigue, deception, murder, and romance. The humor is wicked, and the plot twists will keep the pages turning to the supremely satisfying end. Teens will be inspired by Aly's determination, her resourcefulness, and her heart." -School Library Journal

"Aly arrives fully formed, a snarky, talented uber-heroine. Cameos of old favorites complement a rich cast of new characters. Aly's difficulty with the complexity of colonialism adds surprising, welcome depth." -Kirkus Reviews

"Unrelentingly realistic in its depiction of the horrors of war, this novel draws the reader into a complete and believable fantasy world. Pierce provides exquisite details of the weaponry, topography, and culture of her world, and her control of a voluminous cast of characters is masterful." -Voice of Youth Advocates

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#92 in Books > Teens
#92 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hi so my name's Michaela and I'm 15. I read the first two books in 6th grade when I picked them up at my school library, and the other two shorty after at borders. I loved them, and I'm tired of reading all the reviews about the mothers who think these books are inappropriate for their daughters because they "do it". Children have "the talk" in 5th grade. They know how babies are made. These book aren't explicit at all and just sort of mention it in passing and in all honesty if I didn't understand what was going on than it probably would have gone right over my head. My mother was not upset by me reading these books because she trusts my reading choices. I reread this series all the time and as I get older I find more to love about it. Please, don't keep your daughters (or sons) from reading this amazing series because you're worried about nothing.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I must have read these four novels by Tamora Pierce at least eight times. I loved them growing up and I love them still, although I am not nearly so pleased with her more recent work. I'm glad that she is successful but the quality seems to have sharply fallen off.

Anyway, this series is about a ten yr old girl named Alanna and her twin brother Thom who are being sent away to be educated. Thom is meant to become a knight and Alanna to go to a convent school. Neither twin is happy with the situation so they forge new letters of introduction from their father and Thom goes off to the convent/monastery to learn to become a Mage and Alanna is disguised as "Alan" and goes to the castle to become a knight.

The books follow her adventures while at school then after she is ordained and they are so engaging and wonderful with many memorable characters not to mention a strong female role model. I reccommend this series to anyone, but most especially anyone with a ten yr old daughter who might fall in love with these books the way I did.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was first introduced to this book in third grade by someone who was babysitting me. By fourth grade I had read the whole series a number of times. I don't know if I would say this one or the last one was my favorite, but both were great. You can imagine the characters are real, and the same goes to the world they live in. I still love these books, but now I'm in eighth grade. I see all these adults who have read these books, and I think it is great! I can read these over and over and over and not get bored, even though I know exactly what is going to happen and when. I doubt they will ever get boring, thank God. I'll always have a good book to read! I recommend reading the whole series, along with the Wild Magic series, after you read this book, to find out all that happens to Alanna. I havn't read her new series yet, I think I'll wait for it to come out in paper back. I don't know if I'm ready to read something by her that isn't somehow related to the magical world of Tortall and Alanna! Well anyway, this is an excellent book, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading even a little bit, and especially to girls. I don't think this is really a guy book...
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My favorite type of books is fantasy all because of this book. Three years ago, when I was in sixth grade, a friend saw me reading "The Woman who Rides Like a Man" over his shoulder (that's the third book in this series), and the next day he brought this book in to school and told me to read it in study hall. I loved it, and borrowed it and took it home where I finished it that night. I then went out and bought the rest of the series. The book is great, with a little resemblence to "Twelfth Night" (no, if you haven't heard of it, it's not a fantasy book. It's a play by Shakespeare. Sorry.) Alanna and her brother switch places, forcing her to disguise herself as a boy (luckily, her brother, Thom, does not have to disguise himself as a girl.) During the beginning of the book, Alanna tries to reject her powerful magical ability. However, she is forced to use it twice, and realizes that her "Gift" is a blessing from the gods, not a curse from them. Meanwhile, Alanna has to train as a knight. She is shorter than the other boys, and has more trouble, at first. But she works hard to overcome her height disadvantage (not by using magic to make herself grow; she tried that once and got a bad headache), and, while beating all the other boys at knighthood, Alanna still has to deal with issues of womanhood. And what will happen when she becomes a knight? She can't be a "boy" forever!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Review: These books are my comfort books. In fact, all of the Tamora Pierce books from the Tortall series' are in that category. This is the first of Pierce's quartets ever published, starting with Alanna: The First Adventure. They all have a very strong female protagonist, who takes her destiny head-on and finds a way to train as a knight, even though such a thing is only for boys and men. She is a lovable, and tough character, who is very full of honor, pride, and hard work/determination. She goes through her moments of confusion, especially in times where she is out of control, but it never stops her for long. It's just enough to add a dynamic and believable honesty to her character. In addition to the typical high fantasy (medieval-style) world created for Alanna to fight in, the book also includes her struggle to learn, control, and use magic - the Gift - a talent that is somewhat common, though it manifests itself in different ways with each person. It is a story of adventure and magic that I just keep coming back to.

Recommendation: This should probably mainly be read by kids/young adults. While I have known people who read them only when they were older, they generally only ever liked the books, not loved them. As I re-read them now, I do notice the lack of development in the writing style and story lines - but I still love them, because I have loved them for a long time. They are generally appropriate for middle school students.
--Note that I say "middle school", because there is some confusion about menstrual cycles and sex. Nothing is very explicit, and all of it is done in a very naive sort of way, since Alanna doesn't understand much about womanly things.
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Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, Book 1)
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