Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: November 5th, 2011
Date finished: November 14th, 2011
This is the fourth and concluding book in the Song of the Lioness series, and it really doesn't make a lot of sense or have much emotional impact if you read it without having read the previous three books, so I would recommend against it.
Alanna of Trebond is a knight, and has defeated her worst enemy in single combat. She's still a bit worried about using her magic because of the way the battle went, and things are somewhat awkward between her and Prince Jonathan, so she sets off to become a knight errand and do good deeds for the good of the kingdom. Once on a quest for the Dominion Jewel, a magical gem that can give limitless power to its owner (being all noble and selfless, Alanna is obviously going to give it to Jonathan), she meets a number of new allies and friends, and proves her heroic worth by achiving near impossible things.
Back in Tortall, Alanna's brother has raised the dead in an experiment gone badly wrong, and Jonathan has to prove his claim to the throne. George's reign as King of the Rogues is threatened by a deadly usurper, an old enemy of Alanna's. Alanna is needed by both of them, and faces great loss and huge challenges upon her return from her quest.
Ok, trying to recap the story without spoiling anything makes the book seem more lame than it is. As the final chapter in Alanna's story, I actually really liked Lioness Rampant and as the series started with her childhood, this is the book where Alanna becomes an adult in every sense of the word. She proves herself, to both those around her, and more importantly, to herself. She gains a confidence she previously lacked, and a much clearer idea of what she wants from her life and her future. She decides who her heart belongs to, but isn't entirely sure that she ever wants to settle down in one place for very long.
The supporting cast are in no way ignored by Pierce, and there are new additions that Alanna meet along the way who help her grow as a knight and as a woman. All the various story lines from previous books are tied off in a very satisfactory way, although Tamora Pierce has written other series in the same universe. I will have to check them out at some point as well, for now, I think I've covered my young adult fix for a little while.