I’ve been reading Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Series after it was recommended during the SCBWI NY conference by one of the editors. I have to say I have mixed feelings about the series. I’m currently on book 3/4, and do find myself wanting to find out what happens at the end, but I find each book too quick of a read.
I enjoy her characters and in some ways it reminds me of my own book Orya and the Book of Songs in that it is fast-paced and exciting with some familiar fantasy novel themes. I also like the story behind her main character, Alanna, a young girl who trades places with her brother and disguises herself as a boy to be trained as knight. Her brother goes instead to learn magic (though he does not have to dress up as a girl to do this). Alanna is spunky and likeable, and you root for her all the way.
But I guess what I have trouble with is that the reading a little too easy. This is very off-putting because the book contains older reader themes like sex and menstruation and stuff, and is billed as a YA, but reading level-wise it is like a middle grade novel. I found this very confusing and weird. Maybe it is meant to appeal to those kids who want to read but maybe aren’t that good of readers?
I’m also not convinced that her fantasy world is set up very well, the way everyone seems to say you need to do when writing fantasy, and yet from what I’ve read on the internet Tamora Pierce is a well-known and well-liked children’s fantasy author. I can’t even tell you what the name of her world is, if it has one, the way anyone knows what Middle Earth or Hogwarts is. That being said, the books must be compelling since I found myself wanting to read the whole series and not stopping at just the first book.
Why are series so popular? I think it’s because once you’ve immersed yourself in a character and invested your time learning about his or her world, you want to continue on and find out more. You become comfortable in the character’s skin, and feel like you are returning home when you pick up the next book and start reading again.
I feel like as a kid I wanted to read series and now as an adult I still love kid’s series, but am reticent to read adult series. Maybe it’s because children’s books concentrate a bit more on the story and the plot? Maybe its because they are shorter books? I’m not sure. I read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series in college and loved the first two books but quickly became bored with his long-winded writing style and slow moving plot by the fourth book (not to mention the sometimes icky “adult content” as his character gets older and falls in love with multiple women).