Alanna, The First Adventure: A Greater Test than We Know
In the current age their is a greater number of female protagonists in literature and video games than ever before. And yet, the idea of having women in many of the roles traditionally held by men is a relatively new concept, having shifted over the past century. This societal shift happened because women, individually and collectively, challenged the role they were confined to in society. The phrase, ‘A women’s place is in the home’ stopped holding them back as they went after their dreams and beliefs.
In Alanna, The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce tells a story with a similar concept behind it. Alanna is a young girl born into one of the noble families of Tortall. Tortallian custom for nobles was clear; the daughters were to go to the Convent to learn how to be ladies so they could find a husband and at least one of the sons would travel to the Castle to be a knight. The prospect of fitting into this societal expectation repulses Alanna who desperately wished to be a knight, despite the fact that the last female knight died one hundred years prior. Her twin brother Thom is in similar boat, despising the concept of being a knight and wants nothing more than go to the Convent to learn sorcery. It is in these similar but different desires that a solution is found.
Switching places and passing herself off as a boy, Alanna faces many challenges and difficulties. Learning to be a knight is hard, made so by the knowledge that if anyone found out she was a girl she may loose her chance to earn her shield. On top of that she struggles with accepting herself for who she is, dealing with bullies, and figuring out why the gods are interfering in her life.
For there are dangers lurking within the castle, most of them seemingly targeted at prince Jonathan, heir to the throne and Alanna’s best friend. Can the would be knight rescue her friend without exposing her secret?
Alanna’s journey to change her fate is identical to many real life stories that exist within history. But the beginning of her tale shows that, just like those real life examples, it only takes one brave person to begin the wheel of change.