The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness, book 3) by Tamora Pierce
"Let her prove herself worthy as a man."
Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortall. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death -- either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mythic fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe's first female shaman -- despite the desert dwellers' grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes -- for their sake and for the sake of all Tortall.
Alanna's journey continues...
It has come up a lot in discussions about Young Adult books: How unrealistic the romance is. How it's insta-love and the girl never thinks of how the relationship will affect her. If she really loves about the guy, and what she doesn't love about him. (Oh, my! The male love interested isn't REALLY perfect.) How being with that person will affect her life and goals. Most importantly, how she wants to be treated by and because of that person.
I always say I've read books where it is considered and it made for a great read. But then I could never remember the titles! Well Woman Who Rides Like a Man goes there. It shows how Alanna knows herself, well enough that she doesn't want to just rashly throw her future away for an ideal/fantasy.
Romance isn't the entire focus by any means. Alanna is dealing with how to accept magic into her life. Becoming a teacher and a revolutionist for women. Better yet readers finally get a good look into the Bahsir. They're a fascinating people and I enjoy how change slowly comes to them. Inspired by their respect of Alanna. Alanna learns she can't take care of everyone.
The new characters of the Bahsir are really fun to get to know and a few old favorites. There's plenty of time to flesh out other characters that are much beloved. Though unfortunately some of Alanna's Knight friends aren't here. Thom isn't getting much page time, and I think Alanna is going to be super shocked by what is transpiring. Or at least she should be! It bothers me a bit how unworried and uncaring she seems about what her brother does. I feel like because he's her brother—twin brother—there's very weird disconnect between them. I thought maybe it was because they both have issues letting people in, but they're both supposed to have loved each other immensely. There's still one more book to fix it.
Overall I love this follow-up. Alanna is an amazing character and while her fears of the royals and palace politics are her latest fear, she's finding her own footing as the first Lady Knight in over a century. It's wonderful to see how much she's grown and that she's still fearless in her life choices. That love isn't just instant forever. People change and you never stop learning and growing.
Oh, and the action is pretty awesome.
Sexual Content: Some sex and sexual humor. This is a book written in the 80s, so it's all clean and vague on the sex scenes themselves. So no worries.
4/5- Great! Really enjoyed it.
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