One of the first lady warriors that I was introduced to as a child was Alanna of Trebond, from the Song of the Lioness Quartet and other Tortall stories by Tamora Pierce. Alanna lives in the fantasy kingdom of Tortall, where only men are allowed to become knights. She swaps places with her twin brother, Thom, and disguises herself as the boy “Alan” so she can train as a knight. Although her true identity is eventually discovered, she manages to become one of the king’s most decorated knights and actually changes the laws of the kingdom so that other women can become knights as well.
Since we see Alanna grow from a young girl into a woman, we get to watch her overcome a lot of her flaws. She struggles to accept herself as a woman and as a wielder of magic, and eventually embraces all of her gifts, not just her talent for fighting. She also has to learn how to control her temper and her stubbornness. Along the way, she learns about friendship and love.
What I love about Alanna is that even as we see her get older and more confident in her abilities, she still makes mistakes. Her abilities are hard-won through years of training and even then she doesn’t become all-powerful. Alanna is a very realistic heroine for her faults as much as her strengths. I also admire that she out-grows her first romance, not because of a bitter fight, but because she realizes that her dreams are truly incompatible with her love. Alanna is not the type of woman to sacrifice what she has for a man. Instead of finding her one true love from the start, Alanna has several relationships that she has to learn how to balance with her duties as a knight, and she has some ups and downs in her love life before she learns how to accept a love based on mutual respect.
Alanna is known as the Lioness for her fierce courage, and it’s a fitting title. In later books, we even get a glimpse of Alanna as a protective mother to her cubs, when she passes on the torch to her daughter, Alianne. Also, who doesn’t love a gal who has a talking cat and gets to live in a place called the Pirate’s Swoop? Like many young girls growing up, I wanted to be Alanna. She’s a lady and a warrior, loved the world over.