I had just been craving a new Tamora Pierce novel when this came out. I pouted for a couple of minutes because it's not Mastiff, which I want to read but sadly is not out yet. Then I thought, you know, I've reread Protector of the Small twice this year, so I probably should go pick up the new Tortall book even if it is short stories.
Plus, there's a Lioness Rampant on the cover. This excited me, so I attempted to explain the Lioness Rampant to my mother, who did not care but smiled politely anyway because she's a good mom.
I would love to pretend that I can give a glorious, insightful, and snappy review of a Tamora Pierce novel. But, um, I can't.
See, I read Alanna the First Adventure when I was in sixth grade. I read it under my desk because my teacher was repeating himself and I was bored. I thought, this would be a good time to pick up that book I got for my birthday. He never even noticed that I wasn't paying attention, and I thought I'd learned quite enough about the Nile River Valley for one week, thank you much. In fact, I read the rest of the day. Then I went home and picked up the second book. Etc.
The Tortall books taught me about feminism before I even knew feminism existed. Alanna, Daine, the Circle kids, all grew up with me. They fought literal battles at the same time I fought hormones, bookworm/wallflower syndrome, and social pressure. Those girls were the people I wanted to be. Especially Keladry. Kel is still the person I want to be when I grow up.
I will never be able to extricate these books from my childhood, because not only are they brilliant, but, well, I think they're brilliant. Which is why this review is basically going to be a convoluted, fangirl mess of, "I LOVE YOUR BOOKS."
And I loved this one, too. I loved "Student of Ostriches" back when I read it in the Young Warriors anthology. Anything set in Tortall, I devoured. The final story, "Testing," made me chuckle because my oldest friend works in social services. I've heard this story in other incarnations, other places, similar settings, and it always makes me smile. The reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was just because I was not a fan of the modern-day goddess tale. Other than that, sign me up!
So yeah. If you haven't read the Tortall books, well, go do it!