Tamora Pierce’s career was launched in the early 80’s with the release of Alanna: The First Adventure. This was the beginning of the quartet of novels titled The Song of the Lioness. From there, Pierce continued to release a new novel every couple of years. With 26 novels completed and more on the way (some of which are going to be the highlight of my life), she is one of the most prominent fantasy writers for the Young Adult genre.
Her novels have been re-released over and over again with new faces, and there’s no doubt as to why. Her command of fantasy elements keeps the reader stuck fast to the page, unable to leave her wonderful characters until their story has been completed. Every time I introduce Pierce to someone, they always come back for more.
Her most recent book, Bloodhound, is the second book of the Beka Cooper series. This series is about a young girl that starts out as a trainee for the Provost’s Guard (essentially training to be a police officer). The series is about her dogged determination and how she will not let crimes go unpunished. She gets involved with some rather tricky situations but instead of walking away, she sinks her teeth in and never lets go. Terrier is the first book of the series and the third, Mastiff, is rumored to be released in 2011. The excitement sets my blood fizzing.
My favorite stories by Pierce are set in the circle universe. The first quartet set in this universe was titled The Circle of Magic. This quartet introduced four youths that had been rejected or abandoned by society in certain ways. They come from all different walks of life, from the richest to the poorest. Sandry is a noble girl that was left alone while the town she was visiting suffered from a vicious plague. Daja is a ship trader– her ship was destroyed in a storm leaving her stranded in the middle of the ocean. Tris came from a merchant family and was passed around whenever anything went wrong around her. Lastly, there’s Briar the thief. He was about to be sent away for good, but he was saved at the last-minute like the rest of the characters by a mysterious mage that knew there was something worth saving. Niklaren Goldeye found each child and brought them to the Winding Circle Temple because somehow he know that was where they belonged. Together these kids learned what made them so special, they found the spark of magic that helped Niko to find them in the first place. They forged a bond that went deeper than blood. They were bound by magic.
There was a followup quartet called The Circle Opens which explores each character out in the world on their own. They are a little bit older and have seen so many things that they probably shouldn’t have. Now they have to make choices about their futures and who they’re going to grow up to be. They also have to learn what being a mage really means for them.
Other titles set in this world are Will of the Empress and Melting Stones. There are rumors of more novels set in the circle universe, which I personally hope are true.
What I love about Pierce is that her stories are so easy to relate to. Her plot lines do not pander to teenage daydreams, romances that look like they won’t work out but end up being the best thing ever and how could she live without him? Her characters are realistic in their personalities and their behaviors. Their interactions are honest and true to their development. She tests their character time and again with difficult problems and horrible truths. Her female characters tend to be strong and independent, standing in the face of adversity and not letting their weaknesses get the better of them. Most of them use that weakness to fuel their strength.
I highly recommend her books for teenagers today. Most novels that come out for teen girls have female leads that are pushovers, waiting for their true love to fix everything. What if true love can’t fix everything? What happens then? Tamora Pierce offers a brand of story telling that doesn’t rely on love to be the story. Pierce has been a pioneer in this genre for a long time and she never ceases to amaze.