Sunday 13 November 2011

CBR3 Book 91: "In the Hand of the Goddess" by Tamora Pierce

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Page count: 288 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: October 31st, 2011
Date finished: November 3rd, 2011

Alanna of Trebond is still disguised as a boy, and has become the squire of her best friend, Prince Jonathan, who is one of the few that have discovered her true identity. At the beginning of the book, Alanna, receives a magical charm from the Mother goddess herself, and is told that she will need to learn to face her fears. Alanna fears three things - the Ordeal of Knighthood; Jonathan's uncle, the sorcerer Duke Roger, and love. She also acquires Faithful, a tiny black cat who seems to be able to communicate her directly.

The book follows Alanna from she's fifteen to eighteen, in the years before she (SPOILER) attains her knighthood.  The kingdom goes to war, and as Jonathan's squire, Alanna fights at his side. She is abducted during the fighting, but uses her quick wits to escape, and manages to help solve the conflict once and for all. Yet even after the war, she remains restless. While she can't prove anything, she's convinced that Duke Roger is up to something, and that he means not only Prince Jonathan, but the King and Queen, harm. Yet she seems to be the only one who mistrusts him, and she has absolutely no proof of his treacherous nature.

As well as trying to protect Jonathan from real and perceived threats, Alanna trains towards her own knighthood. She still has to keep her identity a secret, but a few people close to her discover that she's a girl, and love starts becoming more of a distraction for her. As well as becoming a fighter, she starts wanting to explore a feminine side a bit more, and with the help of her friend George's mother, she learns to dress like a young woman, do her hair and learns the courtly manners of a Lady, not just a knight. The book is just as exciting as the first, and Alanna's development into adulthood, her battle to prove Duke Roger's evil, and her first love, are all things that keep the reader interested.

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