Tamora Pierce,
Song of the Lioness #2:
In the Hand of the Goddess

(Random House, 1984; Atheneum, 2002)

This sequel to Alanna: The First Adventure, finds Alanna, now age 14, being chosen as a squire by Prince Jonathan. While her education as a knight-to-be continues, Alanna now has additional duties as lord of Trebond, her father having died shortly before the story begins. During an eventful trip home to Trebond, she discovers that not only does she have serious enemies who are willing to kill her, but she has been chosen by the Goddess for some task yet to be named. Gifted by the Goddess with a talisman and a purple-eyed black cat, Alanna returns to the palace.

In addition to the normal stresses that she has been dealing with for four years, Alanna suddenly finds that she must deal with the stresses of growing into womanhood while trying to hide that fact. She hates the fact that she was born a girl, and yet, confusingly, she begins to find some allure in the possibilities of womanhood. Fortunately, she has found a mentor in the city who can share the joys and pains of womanhood with her, someone who can give her advice that those few who know her secret, men all, cannot.

The story spans most of Alanna's teen years, from age 14 to 18, though it is still aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds and still told with the same concise style as the first book in the series. Young teens and tween readers will no doubt find it as entertaining as the first book.

I have only one small caveat. The story touches on matters of a sexual nature that, while they are entirely appropriate to the story, may not be appropriate for the intended audience. There is nothing even remotely explicit -- some children may not even catch the references -- but parents may want to read through the story first to see if they feel it's appropriate for their children.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 21 August 2004

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