Blogaversary: Author Profile: Tamora Pierce

For our blogaversary, we have decided to do a new feature to highlight a favourite, or newly discovered author. Since we are having a YA month here, we all agreed on Tamora Pierce for a profile, and our thoughts on her books.

Profile: Tamora Pierce. YA author

Bio: Tamora Pierce was born in Pennsylvania, but now lives in Syracuse New York and is a multi award-winning and popular Fantasy YA author. Her books predominantly have strong female heroines who are independent and strong willed. The last twenty years she has written over twenty books, which many readers have regarded to be amongst their favourite re-reads/best of lists. She is currently writing her latest book, Mastiff, which is the final book in the prequel series to her long running but very popular Tortall series.

Our thoughts:

Has: I remember the first time I picked up a Tamora Pierce book: I was in the library whilst on a school trip. I had already picked up five books, but I needed another one because they were not enough to satisfy this book addict. I quickly scanned the shelves and saw a book cover with a medieval hooded girl with haunting, but striking eyes. I quickly read the blurb and it was about a young girl who wanted to become a knight, and this girl disguised herself as a boy to become one. I quickly snatched it up because I loved Fantasy, and because it was rare to read books within that genre at that time – especially a YA that featured a girl as a leading character.

The name of the book was called Alanna: The First Adventure. The title didn’t sound particularly exciting, but the blurb and the cover did. I was sucked in by the first page alone. This was (and still is) a book that HAD everything I wanted: magic, action, a strong female heroine, humour and mystery. I later found out there was a sequel called In The Hand of The Goddess (one of my all time favourite books), which I quickly reserved from the library and it was even better that the first!  Several years passed before I finally read the final two books in the series. That wait was extremely difficult because I kept on wondering: what happened next? Even though the second book had resolved most of the important plot threads in the first book – I wanted and I needed to read more.

The Song of the Lioness series is one of those influential series for me. It’s one of those magical moments when you pick up a book – without any high expectations – and find that it literally shapes and effects future tastes in books. I think because of this, my love for strong heroines was strengthened. It’s why I gravitate towards more Urban/Traditional fantasy book with strong heroines.

It was actually the follow up to Song of the Lioness series, The Immortals quartet, that increased my love for Tamora Pierce’s writing. It was around this time that the books saved me during one particular summer when I was laid up in hospital due to an operation. And my escape into the world of Tortall helped me get past the pain, boredom and frustration. Before the hype/love and fictional crushes on Edward Twilight or Harry Potter, Numair Salmalin was my first fictional crush. He was funny, witty and a true geek at heart, and I adored his burgoning romance with the heroine of this series, Veralidaine Sarrasri.

Tamora Pierce has remained one of my favourite authors and I eagerly look forward to each new release of hers. I truly think she’s laid a lot of groundwork and influenced many authors today. Along with Anne McCaffery and Robin Mckinley, who also have done the same. Her strong female heroines, humour and imagination is a pure joy to read, and I will continue to bookpush her books to people of all ages because they will appeal to a universal audience.

E: I remember my first time too ;).  A certain bookpusher *cough* Has *cough* had mentioned several times – rather enthusiastically – about a YA author whose books were not EMO, and who helped keep her going during rough times.  Of course I had to ask about it, and boy did I get an earful! Well to be accurate, it was an eyeful since this was all on-line.  She then recommended that I start with Terrier, which was the first of the Beka Cooper chronicles.  She explained to me that those chronicles were actually prequels to the books she started reading, and that I would probably enjoy them.  Despite my resistance to buy a new-to-me author in large trade paperback size, my fellow bookpusher was insistent. I finally gave in in 2008 and I haven’t looked back since.  I was too impatient to wait until I had a complete series, so I bought the 1st book for all the series I could find.  Those ended up being: Wild Magic (Immortals), First Test (Protector of the Small), and Trickster’s Choice (Trickster series).  After I finished those I started searching out all the rest I could find.  I finally found the entire Song of the Lioness series this past year and that completed her currently published Tortall books.  Each series brought out something new.  Her characters, good or bad, or indifferent, were all strong and well fleshed out providing me with hours of entertainment.

While Has has her favorite series, I find that different ones strike those same chords for me.  I tend to re-read the Beka Cooper chronicles, Terrier and Bloodhound, and the Protector of the Small quartet, First Test, Page, Squire, and Lady Knight most often.  Given that I work in a typically male dominated profession, I could feel some of what those heroines experienced and felt.  They each decided on a goal and endured and did what they had too so they could achieve their goal and succeed.  They weren’t perfect, not always confident, or all-knowing. They may not have possessed the most powerful of superpowers. Nor did they give in to emo-ness when the going got tough.  They might cry out of frustration and anger, but they never quit. Nor did they use the excuse of being female to get out of doing something difficult.  Each of her characters grew throughout their series. They learnt some hard and sometimes painful life lessons, but they never lost sight of the goal that got them started.  One of the others reasons why I love Ms Pierce’s writing is the message she sends to young, and not so young women through her writing.

As I was mentioning earlier about her heroines, they have a lot of realistic qualities and they achieve things in a positive manner while always respecting themselves and their morals.  She doesn’t sugarcoat anything and make it easy on them, but provides the feeling that with hard work and dedication you can accomplish anything.  That is something that applies to everyone, and a lesson I wish more young women would learn and believe.

Lou: I  literally lost my cherry to Tamora Pierces books last week, and I glommed two entire series in about four days. Oh yeah, I popped my cherry good!

The Lioness Series features a fearless heroine that I’ve not encountered in a YA series before. She was fiercely independent, and throughout the first two books, I sometimes forgot that she was actually a female and not a young boy. Her character was so against, and afraid, of showing any hint of femininity that I admired her that much more when she really gets treated as a young boy, and doesn’t complain about the treatment she receives.  When Alanna does discover her own sexuality and woman-hood, it made it that much more powerful knowing how frightened she was beforehand. That is something I have not encountered in a YA series before, and will stay with me for a long time.

While I admired this series and it’s heroine, it’s not my favourite. Nope. I adored The Immortal quartet, featuring a young girl who goes on her own personal journey of becoming a young lady, and learning and finding about where she belongs in the world, and learning and coming to terms about her own special powers. And while she has completely different characteristics than Alanna, and had an entire different outlook on the world, it didn’t make her story any less powerful. I found the world building, characters, and the magical creatures to be so much richer, and again, it was entirely original, and something I have never encountered in a YA series. I would have dearly loved to have read the books when I was young girl, as I think I may admired it and interpreted the story in such a different way, compared now as an adult.

For more information on Tamora’s books, take a visit to her website And for detailed information on her books – including order – go here to Fantastic Fiction.

3 thoughts on “Blogaversary: Author Profile: Tamora Pierce”

  1. i too grew up with tamora pierce–i discovered her in middle school! the alanna books and the immortal quartet are both favorites. however, i’ve always wished alanna ended up with the prince jonathan instead of george.

  2. I often find myself daydreaming in Tortall, Tammy Pierce’s characters live outside of their print boundaries.Her heros are as delightful as her heroines, so unusual in fantasy as now I find that often the, yawn, alpha male is the fall back position.Numair,George and blissful Nawat are just perfection; unusual, intelligent and elegantly original.

  3. @Chelleyreads
    Although I was a huge shipper for Alanna and Jon – I think Alanna made the right the decision at the end 😀 However I was super glad about the romance between Daine and Numair – I think despite their age difference they really compliment each other.

    I think those books that make you daydream are the special ones that you only get to read rarely. I love that feeling and I felt the same way too about the Tortal books 😀

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