Friday, December 9, 2011

Review: In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

Title: In the Hand of the Goddess
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Song of the Lioness #2
Pages: 264
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: High Fantasy
Source: Bought

Goodreads Description:
Still disguised as a boy, Alanna becomes a squire to none other than the prince of the realm. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna's liege lord, he is also her best friend -- and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a mysterious sorcerer threatens the prince's life, it will take all of Alanna's skill, strength, and magical power to protect him -- even at the risk of revealing who she really is... 

My Review:
Right from the very first page we're smack dab in the middle of all of the court intrigue, the magic, and the adventure of Tortall. Book one, Alanna, left off with Jon and Alanna battling The Old Ones and defeating an evil that has plagued the people of Tortall for centuries.In the beginning of book two,  Alanna has now graduated from page to squire, and works exclusively for Johnathan. This leads to complications, because a knight's squire is required to live with their lord...and Jon isn't helping, he would have Alanna share his bed along with his chambers...but Alanna is carrying on, learning what it takes to become a knight through magic,training, and the battlefield. 

I love that Alanna is focused on her career and learning to be a knight.  True, I'm a total sucker for romance, but you never seem to find any YA books where the lovey-dovey crap is just a back story. For the most part, entire novels center around "I just met you, I love you, I will be yours forever." Alanna is a much more "Screw love, I'm going to cut out your heart with my sword" kind of a least at first. I think most authors overestimate teenagers and falling in love. Sure, a lot of them are almost completely devoted to boyfriends and love, but other teens are by FAR more focused on getting into college or working or whatever. I think Alanna is the fantasy equivalent of a modern girl...if that makes any sense. Sure she might get butterflies when George takes off his shirt, or daydreams about Prince Jonathan as he sleeps in the room next door, but she is also incredibly focused on developing her knightly skills, and she works really hard on things that have nothing to do with boys at all. She even says quite plainly, "I don't want to fall in love. I just want to be a warrior maiden." Now there's a girl whose got her priorities sorted out. I think that's why Alanna makes such a great character, even years after Pierce first wrote about her. She's strong, independent, and though she eventually finds love, she's not completely obsessed with it.

The point of view is pretty unique in these books. For the most part, we follow Alanna around and watch what she does and hear what she thinks. Then every once in a while the POV will switch casually over to someone else, or usually a group of someone elses as they have an important conversation concerning Alan/Alanna. Sometimes this group is her friends as they talk about how brave/foolish she's being, and other times we actually get a peek into her enemies' heads and find out some of what they are plotting about her. I thought this kind of insight was really great. It reveals a lot about the characters, and you don't need to guess at who is evil and who isn't. It actually confirms some suspicions you have, and also deepens the mystery when it comes to others. All in all, I thought it was a really cool way of telling the story at times when Alanna couldn' in times when she was unconscious and kidnapped. lol.

For the most part, the plot was pretty cool. There are all sorts of underlying stories going on outside of the main plot. There is the main issue of Alanna wanting to become a knight, but then there is the mystery of the Duke of Conte and his sinister desires for the throne. One of my favorite parts was the war between Tortall and Tusiane where Alanna and the gang have to plot and plan and create these complicated and amazing plans to save the country. It was really great, plus, it made some interesting situations for Alanna to try to hide her girl-ness. I will say that a few things were very obvious and you knew where things were going. There were also a few parts where Alanna wasn't very smart. For most of the whole book she figures these elaborate schemes out, but then there is a simple matter of espionage that you could figure out with your eyes closed, and it takes her forever to get it, but other than was really good :)

This series is moving a lot faster than I thought it would. At the beginning of the first book you kind of think that the whole series will revolve around Alanna growing up in the castle and at the very end of the last book becomes a knight when she comes of age, but here we are at the end of book two and Alanna is 18...she's already completed the Ordeal of Knighthood and defeated a central villain. It kind of makes you wonder where the next two books will lead, but wherever they go, I know they will be fantastic. Alanna's technically an adult now, and I think the books will only get more deep as she fully matures. It's like this is a completely transitional series. It starts off when Alanna is barely out of childhood, and the themes of the first book are much simpler, so they kind of reflect her age.This next book has a ton of different coming of age issues like growing up, accepting love, facing your fears, and all sorts of other things that.
I give In the Hand of the Goddess 4 out of 5 Keys. It is a very good story with a fantastic, strong, and kind protagonist that you really identify with. There is a whole lot of adventure and awesomeness packed into these books. Most of them are only about 250 pages, but they are chock full of interwoven stories and myths so you feel like something is constantly going on. I really enjoy this series and I think it is perfect for a younger teenager or even to read to younger kids, though you should know that there are some sexual references and violence. Nothing too PG-13...but still, if you're a conservative parent then you might want to read it first.


  1. Wow! This MC sounds totally like my kind of gal! I hate when they just jump straight into bed with a boy they've just met! I'm a little bit tired of the star-crossed lovers, too, I mean, come ON! There are way too many forbidden-love stories out there and it's getting pretty repetitive xD

    Excellent review my darling! :D muah, muah *blows kisses*
    I will definitely look for this one. Love fantasy books! :D

  2. Loved this review, thanks so much for the info on this book. Totally sounds like one I would like.

  3. Yeah, I need to buy this series again. I told my sister that I want them back and she said no, because she has to keep re-reading them.

    I am so glad that you are reviewing this series.