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Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Alanna The First Adventure is the first in a series of the adventures about Alanna- the first woman knight of the realm of Tortall. But before she earns her knighthood, Alanna must disguise herself as a boy and go through years of training as a page and a squire, then pass the Ordeal of Knighthood and survive. As the daughter of a noble, Alanna would normally be out of luck, as everyone at court would know who she is. But fortunately, her father is a recluse, and while everyone knows the Lord of Treband has two children, the most anyone can remember about them is that they are twins, but not that one of them is a girl. Also fortunate, is that Alanna’s brother, Thom, would much rather be a great wizard than a knight. So, the twins switch places, disguising themselves as each other until Thom reaches the Daughters of the Goddess to train in magic, and Alanna (now calling herself Alan) reaches the Palace to train as a page.
Alanna faces a lot of hurdles on her course to become a knight. It’s bad enough she’s the smallest of the new pages and so gets more than her fair share of bullies, but she also has to keep the secret of who she really is from those few people who become her closets friends. Friends like the Crown Prince training a few years ahead of her, and the rugged leader of the capital’s thieves. But she can’t keep her secret forever, because while boys and girls look much alike as children, they start to change right around the ages of a Palace page. More terrible though, is the growing conspiracy to assassinate the Prince, and as one of his closest friends, Alanna finds herself in the line of fire.
I love a lot of Tamora Pierce’s books, and the Song of the Lioness saga is definitely one of my favorites. Alanna is fun, brave, determined, everything I wanted to be when I was a kid. She was an amazing heroine to grow up with, because as awesome as the first book is, the other three get even better.