Next SFF Author: Marge Piercy
Previous SFF Author: Meredith Ann Pierce

SFF Author: Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce writes fantasy epics in two worlds: The Tortall Universe (Song of the Lioness, Immortals, Protector of the Small, Daughter of the Lioness, Provost’s Dog) and The Circle Universe (the rest). Her work is available in audio format. Learn more at her website.



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Alanna: The First Adventure: Swords, sorcery, and fun

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Alanna: The First Adventure is, indeed, the first volume of well-known fantasy author Tamora Pierce’s four-book series THE SONG OF THE LIONESS. First published back in the 1980s, the quartet was remarkable in many ways, tackling issues like gender roles, cultural tensions, self-determination, and inherited versus achieved power. Written at a time when “young adult” didn’t exist as a genre and feisty teenage girls couldn’t find much positive representation in mainstream fantasy, the series laid out many of the familiar paths and tropes of what has become modern YA fantasy.


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In the Hand of the Goddess: Squire Alan(na) delivers some hard knocks

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

In the Hand of the Goddess is the second installment of Tamora Pierce’s SONG OF THE LIONESS quartet, and while Pierce does provide a fair amount of backstory and repetition of key details from the previous book, Alanna, I recommend reading the books in sequence. By starting at the beginning, readers will have a better appreciation for the trials and challenges Alanna experiences in her quest to become a knight,


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The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: Jennifer Lawrence of Arabia

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man is the third volume of the SONG OF THE LIONESS quartet and the weakest volume of the series. Tamora Pierce makes a good effort of exposing Alanna (and thus, the reader) to some of the varying peoples and customs within the Tortallan kingdom and its neighboring countries, but relies too much on the White Savior trope, and the entire book suffers as a result. As I’ve said before,


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Lioness Rampant: A conclusion fit for a King’s Champion

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce takes the best elements of the three preceding SONG OF THE LIONESS books and polishes them to a fine sheen in Lioness Rampant, the final book of the quartet. She manages to pack swords-and-sorcery, a quest narrative, kind-hearted nobles and charming scoundrels, dastardly villains, truly affecting emotional arcs, and Alanna’s never-ending journey of self-discovery into a single volume without it feeling over-stuffed or slowing the narrative. Pierce’s skills as a writer were visibly improving as she worked on this series,


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Wild Magic: My favorite Pierce book

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

Wild Magic was the first book I ever read by fantasy teen writer Tamora Pierce, and continues to be my favourite. It may help slightly if you have read Pierce’s previous Song of the Lioness quartet, but certainly not necessary — I didn’t get round to reading it until several years later. Wild Magic is the first book of The Immortals quartet, and in my opinion, the best series of stories that Pierce has to offer,


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Wolf Speaker: A great adventure

Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce

Wolf Speaker is the second of Tamora Pierce’s “Immortals Quartet” concerning fourteen-year-old Daine, a young woman who possesses “Wild Magic,” giving her the ability to communicate with animals, heal any animal wound, and in this book, to gradually change her form into any animal she wishes. Pierce jumps straight into the story without hardly any background information, so if you are unfamiliar with the fantasy realm of Tortall, I very highly recommend that you don’t begin your journey with this book: start with Wild Magic,


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The Emperor Mage: Couldn’t put it down

The Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce

The Emperor Mage is the third book in Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals Quartet, and by this stage if you haven’t read the previous installments (Wild Magic and Wolf Speaker) I heartily recommend that you don’t start here — you’ll be completely baffled. A peace delegation including Alanna the Lioness, the Gareths and other nobles from Tortall have been sent to the hot, swampy Charthak Empire in order to negotiate peace with the war-mongering Emperor Ozorne.


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The Realms of the Gods: Pierce’s best book to date

The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce

The Realms of the Gods is the final book in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals quartet, and probably the best. As one can possibly guess, it’s nearly impossible for someone to begin reading this series at this book — you at least have to read Book Three: The Emperor Mage, though ideally you should have all three previous books under your belt: Wild Magic and Wolf-Speaker just to have the complete picture of what’s going on here.


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Sandry’s Book: Pure enjoyment for all ages

Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce

THE CIRCLE OF MAGIC series by Tamora Pierce consists of four books, but the action and characters are so intertwined that it makes sense for me to review them as a series. These are some of my favorite YA stories, and ones that make me cry every time I read them.

THE CIRCLE OF MAGIC tells the story of four young people — Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar — who are brought to the Winding Circle Temple by Niklaren Goldeye,


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Tris’s Book: A wonderful character

Tris’s Book by Tamora Pierce

This volume is the second in a four-part series called Circle of Magic and is also titled The Power in the Storm. Set in a fantasy realm over a one-year period, Tamora Pierce tells the story of four young mages who are brought together to live at the temple community of Winding Circle, to control and properly use their various powers.

The children couldn’t be more different, but their studies bring them closer together till they are bonded magically (unbeknown to their four mentors),


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Daja’s Book: Prepare for a lot of warm-fuzzies

Daja’s Book by Tamora Pierce

Daja’s Book is the third book in Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series, which has also been published as The Fire In The Forging. The quartet of books centers around the trials and tribulations of four teenage mages, separated for a variety of reasons from their families and brought to live together at Winding Circle in order to control their magic and hone their crafts. With each one roughly collaborating with an element (obviously fire,


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Briar’s Book: A fantastic YA read

Briar’s Book by Tamora Pierce

Briar’s Book, the last book in the Circle of Magic quartet (also published as The Healing in the Vine) is perhaps one of Tamora Pierce’s best novels. Unlike her other series, which deal with battles, magic, fantasy creatures, revolution and politics, Briar’s Book centers something very mundane by comparison: a plague. Yet Pierce incorporates within the story all her powerful themes of love and friendship, pain and suffering, grief and hope,


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First Test: A school story

First Test by Tamora Pierce

Throughout Tamora Pierce’s range of fantasy books, the Protector of the Small quartet is unique, mainly because it is not primary a fantasy series, but a school story — more akin to the likes of Enid Blyton’s Naughtiest Girl in the School or Mallory Towers. This may seem like an odd thing to say, but on close inspection I think you’ll find it’s true. Though there are fantasy elements present, the main narrative of the book is concerned with topic that you find in other books of the school-story genre (including Harry Potter),


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Page: Deeper and better than First Test

Page by Tamora Pierce

Keladry of Mindelin (or “Kel” to her friends ) has completed her first year of training to be a knight, and conquered the unfair probation that the training-master Wyldon inflicted on her. Now she hopes she can finally get on with her life-long dream of following in Lady-Knight Alanna’s footsteps, and take the next step in becoming a knight of Tortall.

But things are never as easy as that, and there are still those among her who are determined to see her fail. Yet, as in her first year,


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Squire: Ends on a note of both hope and foreboding

Squire by Tamora Pierce

Keladry of Mindelin (or “Kel” as she’s better known) has finally completed her page training, passed her exams and conquered the ongoing bullying that’s plagued her since she first signed up to become a Lady Knight. Now that she is a squire, she’s eager to begin her duties under a knight of the realm — and is shocked and awed when Raoul of Goldenlake offers to take her on. Anyone who has read the Song of the Lioness quartet knows how much of a legend he is in Tortall.


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Lady Knight: Ordinary girl become a hero

Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce

Finally, Keladry of Mindelin (“Kel” to her friends) has completed her training and been dubbed Lady Knight of Tortall in this final installment of The Protector of the Small quartet. She’s conquered bullies, prejudice, kidnappings, skirmishes, the skepticism of Lord Wyldon, and the terrifying Ordeal; the chamber that all squires must endure if they are to be knighted. She’s all ready to throw her weight into the Scanran War, especially considering the vision that the Chamber of Ordeal granted her: Kel knows the identity and appearance of the man who is behind the monstrous killing machines that have been plaguing her people.


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Magic Steps: Not Pierce’s best

Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

Magic Steps is the first book of the Tamora Pierce quartet entitled The Circle Opens. Featuring the characters of The Circle of Magic quartet, this new series continues their story by exploring how each of the four main characters — just coming to grips with their powers in the previous books — now handle the challenge of becoming teachers themselves. Unfortunately, Pierce has decided that one of the prerequisites of this new experience is that the four protagonists — Sandry,


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Street Magic: Pierce’s imagination is on full blast

Street Magic by Tamora Pierce

It’s ironic that feminist writer Tamora Pierce’s only male character, the self-named Briar Moss, is one of her best characters. Amongst the rest of the mainly female cast, his charisma, street smarts and ongoing inner conflict between his younger, wilder instincts, and his older, more civilized self, makes him one of the most lovable and well-rounded characters in the Circle of Magic series.

The first four books gathered together four magical protégées: aristocratic Sandry, moody bookworm Tris, stoic Daja, and street-rat Briar,


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Cold Fire: A strong potrayal of community

Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce

The Circle Opens quartet deals with the ongoing adventures of the four Winding Circle students as they themselves become the teachers to new (and even younger) apprentices. Sadly, one of the prerequisites of this teaching experience is that the four friends are separated, as became clear in Magic Steps, in which we learn from Sandry that Briar, Tris and Daja have left on far-flung journeys with their respective teachers in order to improve their own magical crafts. As such, the wonderful friendship that was the heart and soul of the previous quartet (Circle of Magic) is put on hiatus as the four make new friends,


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Shatterglass: As always, Tamora Pierce delivers a great story

Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce

This, the fourth and final installment in the THE CIRCLE OPENS quartet is itself a sequel to Tris’s Book in the original CIRCLE OF MAGIC series. There, the reader was introduced to four immensely powerful but untrained young mages: aristocratic Sandry, stoic Daja, street-rat Briar and outcast Trisana, called “Tris” for short. In a departure from her usual action-adventure stories, Tamora Pierce concentrated on character for this particular series, describing how this disparate group of youngsters was brought to the safety of the Winding Circle temple in order to learn how to control their abilities.


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Trickster’s Choice: Have the sequel on hand

Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce

The last time we saw Alianne of Pirate’s Swoop was briefly in Wild Magic, as a little girl of about five. Now she’s sixteen, and the true product of her parents: Alanna the King’s Champion and George Cooper, the King’s Spymaster. Although she’s eager to take her place amongst the adults of her world, honing her gifts as a spy, she’s also perfectly content to spend her time relaxing, flirting and mischief-making — much to the disappointment of her mother.

After a particularly uncomfortable squabble with her mother over her prospects for the future,


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Trickster’s Queen: Proves that Pierce is the master of YA fantasy

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce

Trickster’s Queen is the sequel to Tamora Pierce’s Trickster’s Choice and (so far) the first set of books that are not quartets, but a simple duet. It is also by far her longest book, and in her acknowledgements she credits that to J.K. Rowling due to the fact that the Harry Potter books are so thick. Both books take place in Pierce’s Tortall universe, though are situated on the Copper Isles rather than Tortall as in the Alanna,


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Terrier: Another fine work by Tamora Pierce

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

In Terrier Tamora Pierce tells the story of Rebekah “Beka” Cooper, an ancestor of George Cooper who was the City’s Rogue in the time of Alanna (a setting and characters familiar to readers of her other novels). Beka is starting her first year as a trainee Dog, known as a Puppy (these are nicknames for the Provost’s Guard — the force that keeps peace in the city of Corus). She is assigned to the Dog team of Tunstall and Goodwin, two of the best Dogs in the Evening Watch — and two who have never before taken a Puppy.


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Tempests and Slaughter: The education of young Numair

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

With Tempests and Slaughter (2018), Tamora Pierce launches a new series set in her beloved Tortall universe, which includes over twenty books. Pierce backtracks several years to relate the youthful experiences of Arram Draper, who plays a key role in other TORTALL books, particularly the IMMORTALS series, as the powerful mage Numair.

When Tempests and Slaughter begins, Arram is a ten year old boy, just beginning a new year at the School for Mages,


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Next SFF Author: Marge Piercy
Previous SFF Author: Meredith Ann Pierce

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