Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Lioness Rampant

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness #4
Published January 1st 1988 by Atheneum Books

"I'm not sure I want to be a hero anymore."

Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. She has triumphed in countless bloody battles, and her adventures are already legendary. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs....But Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when she is challenged with the impossible. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good -- but only in the right hands. And she must work fast. Tortall is in great danger, and Alanna's arch-enemy, Duke Roger, is back -- and more powerful than ever. In this final book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna discovers through fierce combat and ceaseless searching that she indeed has a future worthy of her mythic past -- both as a warrior and as a woman.
Lioness Rampant is the fourth book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet and the conclusion to Alanna's story. According to Goodreads, it's the best rated out of the four books so going in, I was hopeful.  I really liked Alanna: The First Adventure, but I felt like the subsequent books, In the Hand of the Goddess and The Women Who Rides Like a Man never fully lived up to the magic of the first book. Nonetheless this is one of those classic fantasy series that I knew I needed to have under my belt, both for of it's feminist penchant and also because it clearly paved to way for a lot of modern fantasy stories we've all read and loved - especially the ones featuring a girl-posing-as-a-boy. I'm happy to have seen the series to it's conclusion, but I did have some issues here...which we'll get to in a moment.

Lioness Rampant once again finds our grown-up heroine-turned-knight out searching for adventure and being her usual heroic self.  This time, there's a quest for a long lost, powerful magical artifact - which naturally means some powerful, other-worldly opponent to face.  There's also new characters thrown into the mix, another a potential new romance to ship (or not) and finally, Alanna begins to make the journey home, after years of exploring, because all is not well in Tortall.  Old threats have come to the forefront again, bringing the series full circle from where it started. As much as I understood Alanna's need for adventure, and as a reader it's always exciting to explore new magical realms, I was eager for her to go back home, given the hints at the end of the previous book that something dangerously wrong in Tortall.

The final chapter of Alanna's adventure as a knight was the longest of the four books, and either because of that, or despite that, the pacing seemed off in quite a few places. Some parts were unnecessarily long, like the focus on the new romance for example, but when we hit the climax, it seemed underdeveloped and rushed.  In general the story just didn't flow as smoothly as it should have. The longer parts wouldn't have bothered me if the ending would have been given the same attention but it just came across as too sudden for my liking. The tension between Alanna and the main baddie, had a much weaker impact than it should have, and their final confrontation was over almost before it began.  It definitely fell flat compared to what we've been shown that Alanna is capable of. Despite that though, there were some wonderful sword-fights and battle scenes, which were as thrilling as they've always been - those are certainly a selling point of the series.

As far is the romance goes, well I mentioned another ship added to the mix. I'm all for how the book is progressive with regards to women, and their romances obviously, but this new romance was all over the place. It seemed unnecessary, to me at least and the outcome seemed obvious so I'm not sure what the point was. In the end, things ended up going the way I'd hoped for everyone so I can't complain too much, but I'm still not sure what the the purpose was. Despite the hit-and-miss romances, Alanna is most certainly a feminist icon.  She does what she wants, pure and simple.  Her role as a pioneer is made clear in Lioness Rampant: she truly changes her world for the better by being an example to women all across the lands.  Her impact is made more clear here in the conclusion, but it's not just the women that benefit from Alanna's example - the men are changed as well, as they learn to see women as not only capable warriors in their own right, but as equals. That to me is the most important aspect of this series, and what makes these books so important. Once again I find myself wishing that I'd read these as a young girl, when they were coming out because I know their impact on a teenaged me would have been all the more pronounced.

Before I wrap things up though, I have to mention: FAITHFUL!! I won't say more here but to those who've read this: CAN WE TALK ABOUT FAITHFUL PLEASE?

Lioness Rampant is a satisfying end to Alanna's adventure, despite some minor issues.  I listened to the entire series on audio and they made for a quick and engaging story. I'll most certainly be going on with the rest of the stories set in the Tortall Universe. Classic fantasy readers looking for shorter stories filled with knights, magic and feminist themes should absolutely give this series a chance!

My Rating: 3 out of  5 Stars

12 comments:

  1. It's been so long since I've read this series, I can't even remember which books I liked most. I do remember I liked the companion series more than this original series though, especially the Kel series. They all have such great female characters.

    Anyway, you've made me want to reread this series again for the first time since High School!!

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    1. LOL^^ We read so many books that forgetting some details is pretty much inevitable :) I have all the companion series on my tbr shelf and should be starting the follow up one soon! Thanks for the feedback, from what I can tell, they do seem to be more popular than the original series! Awesome, I hope you do reread the series ;)

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  2. Glad this one mostly worked I've heard of this author before but I haven't read any of her work. I like the sound of the knight errant and sounds like she's a badass. :)

    I like the idea of the world being changed for the better by her example. Sounds like a great series!

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    1. This was my first time reading her as well - most bloggers I know read her books as kids or in school...I felt like I was missing out so I needed to fix that ;)

      Alanna is a badass and she definitely changed her world for the better, though the series still came off a bit tame and 'nice' if that makes sense? LOL

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  3. This is one of those series that I've been interested in FOREVER (practically literally - high school seems like forever ago). :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I never heard of it until I started blogging Nicole...going to a French school meant we had our own selection of ''classics'' As soon as I started blogging though I added it to my tbr shelf and only started the series last year...so I know what you mean :) I hope you get to read it soon^^

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  4. Strong heroines? *cheers* I still need to get to this series, I'm pretty sure I will love it. It's a shame the pacing was off in some places, that can really take me out of a book. Still definitely going to check this series out though! Nice review <3

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    1. Yup :D It was definitely worth it despite some issues I had with it. Reading it made it obvious how much of an influence it had on fiction today. Even though the style felt a bit dated, the themes and lessons are completely still relevant :) Thanks my friend ♥

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  5. I love the titles for all of the books in this series, especially the last two- they just sound so *powerful*. High fantasy can be rather unkind toward the ladies sometimes, so I LOVE that Alanna is such a strong female character. Lovely review as always, Micheline! ♥

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    1. The titles really are pretty awesome and you're right: they do sound powerful! I wish Alanna had been a little bit more fierce but she certainly is powerful! Ladies often do take the backseat in fantasy, so considering when these were published, makes them all the more impressive :) Thank you my friend xx

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  6. Proud of you for taking on something that I've been meaning to do for ages - reading all these fantasy classics, for which modern classics owe a lot of their influence. I definitely need this series in my life - I almost feel like, how can I count myself as a true fantasy fan if I haven't read a lot of the greats? And I'm over the moon that you say this one has this true feminist! So great.

    I'm deliberately blowing over all the negatives you mention of course. These books really do sound far from perfect... Pretty sure those so-called romances would drive me crazy. BUT nevertheless, I do hope to read and enjoy this series soon. Fantastic review <3

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    1. Awww thanks Aylee^^ I'm pretty proud of myself too - and I know what you mean: I kept reading about so many bloggers who read these growing up and I felt like I'd really missed out, you know? And I wanted to fix that. Plus apparently, the rest of Tamora Pierce's Tortall Kingdom books are even better, so I had to start at the beginning!

      LOL, I noticed ;) They're certainly not perfect: a little tamer than I like my fantasy, like the target audience was much younger, but then there was tons of sexy time romance, so it doesn't really make sense. I think the romances were a way of showing Alanna's independance but I would have prefered her staying unattached to this. I'd love to compare notes with you on these!! Thanks ♥

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