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Song of the Lioness II: In the Hand of the Goddess

by Tamora Pierce (Simon Pulse, 1984

I just want to be a warrior maiden and go on adventures.

In this second book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, love and duty collide head-on for page Alan, who becomes squire to none other than Jonathan, prince of the realm, heir to the throne of Tortall. Jonathan happens to be one of the few who are aware of Alan’s true identity—that the fiery, undersized, red-haired, violet-eyed Alan is actually Alanna of Trebond.

The reason behind her having to masquerade as a boy is that noble girls are not expected to become knights in the kingdom of Tortall, but Alanna has wanted nothing more than to be a warrior since she can remember. Without her fellow pages’ and squires’ advantage of size, Alanna has to depend on her skill as a fighter and a wielder of her Gift of magic to prove herself.

A knight’s life is not an easy one, and with Jonathan being her best friend, lover, as well as her liege lord, things can sometimes get even more complicated. Especially when she suspects his cousin, the sorcerer Duke Roger of Conté, of having his eyes on the throne. And when it becomes increasingly clear than Jon’s life is at stake, and there is powerful magic at work, Alanna has to decide whether loyalty is more important than keeping her identity secret.

In the Hand of the Goddess takes off from where Alanna finished and, if anything, it is even more delightful. Tamora Pierce captures the frustrations of a growing girl trapped with a group of boys marvellously well. Alanna’s realization that she wants to learn to be a woman is touching as well as funny. Her insight into the world of both adolescent boys and girls is rather illuminating:

Her fellow squires at the palace would laugh if they knew she feared spiders. They’d say she was behaving like a girl, not knowing she was a girl.
“What do they know about girls anyway? … Maids at the palace handle snakes and kill spiders without acting silly. Why do boys say someone acts like a girl as if it were an insult?”
Alanna shook her head, smiling a little. In the three years she had been disguised as a boy, she had learned that boys know girls as little as girls know boys. It didn’t make sense—people are people, after all, she thought.

As the Ordeal of Knighthood looms, Alanna knows she has to reveal her identity after she gets her shield. She also knows that once she does that, she will be on her own. She has plans for the future, and love and marriage are not among them, as she tells Jon and her close friend, the thief lord George Cooper. But before any of that can happen, she has to face her most powerful enemy and destroy him.

Alanna’s story is basically about a brave young girl who had the courage to follow her dream. Tamora Pierce’s easy narration and believeable characters make this a delightful read. A blend of fantasy and heroic adventure, this is not just one for a younger audience, but for anyone who has ever dared to dream.

RATING: 8/10

Other books in the series:

Song of the Lioness I: Alanna: The First Adventure
Song of the Lioness II: Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Song of the Lioness IV: Lioness Rampant