Reader Mission: Tamora Pierce’s Tortall

Renowned for her strong female protagonists–“sheroes“–and imaginative fantasy worlds, famed young-adult author Tamora Pierce is still going strong. This October, she’ll be coming out with her latest volume, Mastiff, the final book of the Beka Cooper trilogy and her seventeenth book set in the medieval realm of Tortall. The Beka Cooper books are positively epic and are some of my all-time favorites, but what about all of those other Tortall novels that came before? The Song of the Lioness, Immortals, and Protector of the Small Quartets, as well as the pair of Trickster books, are still out there and are still widely read–by everyone but me, it seems.

I jumped into the world of Tortall with Terrier, the first book about trainee policewoman Beka, and fell in love. I’ve since read that and the sequel, Bloodhound, twice each, and I have Mastiff on pre-order. I’ve calculated, based on shipping date and the maximum time that standard shipping will take, when, at the latest, it will arrive on my doorstep–November 15, to be precise. While fidgeting and waiting for November to hurry up and get here, I realized that there were many other Tortall books I had yet to read. Trickster’s Choice was available from the local library, so I pounced on that. I got about three chapters in and had to give up.

The Beka Cooper books are written in diary format. Beka relates her day-to-day adventures in a heart-to-heart, no-holds-barred manner. I couldn’t help but snicker whenever she wrote something along the lines of, “But since I’m the only one who reads this, I may as well tell the truth.” Oh, do tell, Beka dearest! I felt I truly knew her, that I was one of the friends who gathered for breakfasts in her room at the inn. I picked sides in matters of the heart–I’m a Rosto girl myself–and cheered as Beka brought down the evildoers of the Lower City.

The other Tortall books are, on the other hand, told in the third person POV. In my first attempt at reading Trickster’s Choice, I didn’t get to know Aly. I was expecting this story, too, to be told in the first person. I felt pushed aside, merely a spectator. It was this, not lack of a good story, that led me to drop the book. I’ve since tried again with the Trickster books, this time expecting the third person, and enjoyed them both. They’re set mostly in the Copper Isles, and have a very interesting focus on intricate politics. Like the other three quartets that came before this pair and the Beka Cooper books, it’s set about 200 years after Beka’s time. (So far I like the antiquated version of Tortall better–women warriors were the mainstream, not standouts, and the slang is very, shall we say, colorful.)

So, yes, in the end, I enjoyed the Trickster books, but nowhere near as much as the Cooper trilogy. It seems essential for any fantasy maven who also happens to be a feminist to read the works of Tamora Pierce in full, so I hereby set myself a Reader Mission. (I would say “Reader Quest,” but I’m not a lady knight, so it doesn’t seem quite fitting.) I will read the other Tortall books by the time I graduate from high school. That gives me until 2015, when Tamora Pierce will come out with a new girl hero, Maura of Dunlath. Yes, it’s a very loose deadline, but I have to keep up with current literature as well to hold the interest of all the hip young things reading this blog. For the first time people younger than me are reading and commenting–I feel old at 14. Sigh. But I digress. Back to Tortall…

I want to know what you think of the Tortall books. Have you read any, and, if so, did you like them? Or was this post complete gibberish to you? Cruise over to the new “Reader Poll” page and cast your vote. The results will be scientifically analyzed in a future post à la The Last Muggle, and we want your opinion included. (If you hadn’t heard of Tortall prior to this post, you’re allowed to say you have no idea what I’m talking about. I want to know about my readership before I enlightened you all.)

Okay. I’m going away now. Seriously–VOTE. I don’t want this place to descend into dictatorship like the Copper Isles. A reader rebellion wouldn’t be pleasant.

by Queen-Obsessed

5 responses to “Reader Mission: Tamora Pierce’s Tortall

  1. I am 29 years old, and I love rereading my copies of the Tortall books. I started with the Wild Magic series when I was… quite a bit younger. Then read the Alanna books. Then the Tricksters books (which I loved). Then the Beka Cooper books came out…. My nails are going to be nibbled to nothing by the time Mastiff is out.

  2. Hello 🙂
    Sorry, that was random.
    Um, just to say that I really like your blog and your writing style and the way you talk about this being a dictatorship. You sound much older than you actually are, though I guess I should know what that’s like as I’m only fifteen myself. It’s interesting for me to read the blog of another young writer that I don’t actually know from another website (since that’s what I do the rest of the time), so yeah, hi, and that. I don’t want to seem like I’m self-promoting because it’s so annoying when people do that, but it’d be nice to be friends with another person around my age who blogs so well (congrats, you have a great style) and if you could come and check out my blog I’d be very grateful…
    Also I’ve never heard of the books you’re talking about so sorry… ha ha.

  3. Hrm. I’m not a Tamora Pierce fan. Why is that? I don’t know…. I really don’t. At most I’ve have a feeling of satisfaction from reading her work, but nothing standout-ish. But then again, I’ve only read some of her books in the Protector of the Small books as well as the Trickster books, both of them good, but not inducing me to jump up with glee and consider stealing a library book good. You spiel about the Beka Cooper books has got me curious however…

  4. Sorry, I haven’t been here before, but when I read there was a third Beka Cooper book coming out, I squee’d. Very very loudly. I LOVE that series – and cheers to Rosto Fangirlism! Poor guy probably had a fit and cried when he heard what she’d been up to with Dale, bahahahaha!

    Anyway, fab post (and that’s not just because I agree with every word of it, honest! 😉 )

  5. Um… Yeah I’ve read the Tortall books. I love them. Unlike you, I’ve started reading her first book first: Alanna the First Adventure. It’s still my favorite one she’s written. Give her other books a chance, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them.

    I own Bloodhound, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s one of those deals where I want to read it, but I don’t. I just have to push myself to start it and then I’m sure I’ll love it.

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