Song of the Lioness IV: Lioness Rampant
by Tamora Pierce (Simon Pulse, 1988)
As the Tortall’s first female knight errant, Sir Alanna of Trebond and Olau has travelled far and wide, defeated feared enemies, and at a very young age made a name for herself. Yet she finds herself oddly uncertain and restless. What comes next? Should she go back home now to serve her king? Will she be accepted?
Amidst the uncertainty arrives the knowledge of a legend, the Dominion Jewel, a gem that in the right hands can do immense good. And with trouble brewing in Tortall, Alanna realizes that retrieval of the Jewel might not only save the kingdom, it might redeem her in the eyes of those who had condemned her for hiding her sex for eight years in court. But to retrieve the Dominion Jewel would mean beating impossible odds, go where it seems humanly impossible to go, and once she gets there, fight a duel she has no chance of winning. Is it a risk worth taking?
Meanwhile, Alanna’s arch-enemy, Duke Roger of Conté has been miraculously resurrected, and her twin brother, the powerful sorcerer Thom, had something to do with it. With King Roald dead, and Jonathan’s coronation months away, unrest simmers in the capital city. How exactly did the king die? Does Duke Roger have his powers back? Will he attempt to seize the throne? What is he up to, and exactly who is on his side? Who is Claw, the dishonourable Rogue who is causing trouble and trying to overthrow the King of Thieves, George Cooper? What is wrong with Thom of Trebond, who is buring up with a mysterious fever? Who are the traitors in Jonathan’s camp? Will Tortall survive? Can Jon save his kingdom? Can Alanna get the Dominion Jewel for Jonathan? And can she do it in time to save her homeland?
The quartet rises to resounding climax with this final book. Alanna is no longer a child and the battles she faces are not a child’s any more either. Notably, the first two books of the series are very different from the next two. As a full knight, Alanna has now to weigh her actions against the good of the king and kingdom she serves. Her loyalty and courage are tested to the full, and survival—her own self and her loved ones—can no longer be taken for granted.
As usual Tamora Pierce has packed in an amazing amount in 330 or so pages. Get ready for lots of action, intrigue and suspense. Humour and tragedy are interwoven, as some things come to an end and others see new beginnings. A slew of new characters have been introduced, some of whom fans of Pierce will see a lot of in the later series. The brave Princess Thayet of Saren, on the run from her own civil-war-torn country and her companion, the fierce Buri; and the Shang Dragon, Liam Ironarm, who is Alanna’s lover and cause for not a little bit of jealousy from both George and Jonathan are some of the more intriguing characters.
We also find Thom of Trebond, now just a shell of his former, swaggering self, his magic corrupted and body wasting away. Jonathan, having to shoulder burdens his father ran away from, has matured beyond his years. There is an interesting insight into George Cooper, the much-respected King of Thieves, who, given his friendship to Alanna and Jonathan, finds his loyatly severly tested between them and his ‘realm’.
Lioness Rampant is the book where Alanna finally seems to be approaching at some sort of peace with herself. Having accepted and mastered her Gift of magic, proved herself to those who suspected her ability, and come to terms to having to be both woman and knight, all that remains for our brave hero is to save her homeland and her king, and survive herself.
The odds have always been against Alanna, as they are now. Will there be a ‘happily ever after’?
Other books in the series: