Monday, January 19, 2015

Riding Boy Style

Continuing on with my Song of the Lioness reread is the third book, The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce.  This book is nice because the story is a bit more cohesive and linear then the earlier books and really launches our girl Alanna into the rest of her life.  Before I get into all that though, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
In the aftermath of Alanna being knighted, revealed as a female and killing Duke Roger of Conte (the princes cousin) she decides she needs a bit of a breather from the capital and heads out with her man Corum to seek adventure.  She ends up in the desert with a tribe of Bazhir called the Bloody Hawk.  She fights for the right to become part of the tribe and is named as The Woman Who Rides Like a
Man...which is a really long title, but hey it is also very descriptive.  The Bazhir are fierce nomadic people who have a pretty strict division between males and females, and Alanna is setting all that on it's head acquiring a magical crystal sword of potential evil along the way. As she gets to know her adopted people the tribes shaman (who is a bit crazy...ok he's a lot crazy) challenges her and ends up being slain by our lady knight.  According to custom, Alanna takes over as shaman of the tribe until she can train up her apprentices, including two girls to take over.   Prince Jonathan and Sir Myles end up coming from Corus so Jonathan can become the Voice of the tribes and unite the desert people with the kingdom of Tortall.  Myles decides to make Alanna his heir, giving her resources and a home that she did not have before.  Jonathan renews his attentions to Alanna, culminating in a marriage proposal.  After much thinking and fighting, Alanna decides that she does not want to become a traditional lady and declines...which of course makes things a bit awkward between the two.  Alanna leaves the tribe in the hands of her young apprentices, fulfilling the rite to make them full fledged shamans.  She goes to visit George, the king of thieves and her dear friend.  The two start a relationship which lasts until there is an attempt on George's life by a young upstart by the name of Claw.  George returns to Corus to find out what is behind the attacks and Alanna moves on to further adventure.
This book like I said earlier is much tighter of a timeline then previous books.  The story is much more focused and it some ways it makes more sense.  I really enjoyed spending an extended amount of time with Alanna, learning about her and seeing her on a daily basis instead skipping over  months and years at a time.  It is nice to see some of the other cultures that are actually part of the kingdom and not a completely different country.  I will say that I personally found the Bahzir to be a bit stereotypical of a desert/nomadic tribe, but that is just my personal feelings.  I'm still not sure how I feel about Alanna's relationships with Jonathan and George.  I felt Jonathan changed feelings about Alanna very quickly, going from completely accepting who and what she was to demanding she
become a traditional lady.  George's love for Alanna was well established in previous books and he is much more accepting of her as a a person, which is nice, but the speed in which Alanna went from one serious relationship to another is a bit disturbing.  I like watching Alanna come to grips with her own magic Gift, learning to use it and not to fear is cool to see.  This book gives us glimpses into the lives of some of the other characters, showing us what is going on while Alanna is gone, reminding us that just because she is not there does not mean that everybody else's life stops.  We are introduced to the Shang warriors, Thom's increasing magic, and the feeling that all of this is building up to something big in the next book.  Overall it was good to see a story from beginning to end and to not skip around the time  line.  I feel like we have established Alanna's character, likes, dislikes, quirks, strengths and weaknesses making her for the most part a very believable human character.  I enjoyed this installment and feel like we are at the perfect set-up for the final book.  I give this book 7 out of 10 evil crystal swords.
Do you like the longer or shorter time lines in books?  How do you feel about relationship jumping? Do I sound like I am repeating myself in these ramblings?

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