In the Hand of the Goddess
By: Tamora Pierce
Still disguised as a boy, Alanna becomes a squire to none other than the prince of the realm. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna's liege lord, he is also her best friend -- and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a mysterious sorcerer threatens the prince's life, it will take all of Alanna's skill, strength, and magical power to protect him -- even at the risk of revealing who she really is...
I loved this even more than the first one! I practically inhaled this portion of the story. The world, the story, and the characters are just getting stronger and stronger. It's absolutely wonderful.
Alanna: Can you believe it? She got MORE awesome. I love seeing her development. In this book she knows that she can achieve what she needs to, she's seen her determination put to the test. She's gained belief in her fighting and strength if not in her relationships yet. I thought it was brilliant how the first book focused on her learning how to become a passable page and a boy. This book put more time into her learning how to be a girl and a lady. I loved seeing her explore and accept her own femininity while maintaining that she could fight and kick butt just like any of the other guys.
She faced the three fears addressed at the beginning and grew through them. She became a knight! What she's been working for in the last two books. I'm excited to see what that means for her development and for the development of the overall story. She's going off on her own to have adventures and learn about herself as a lady knight.
Also, can we talk about how sassy she is? It's easily one of my favorite things about her. For example,
"You are brave, kicking a chained prisoner. They must sing heroic ballads about you on winter nights!"
"Perhaps your mother betrayed your father with a warthog," Alanna said thoughtfully..."You both certainly have a warthog's manners. Jem there even has a warthog's looks."
George: Oh. I love him so much. He's grown on my slowly but surely. Now I don't know what I would do if something happened to him. He's adorable with Alanna and so sweet. (I loved the scene when him and Jon first saw her in a dress). I love that even though he's a thief, he's not a bad character. He's not irredeemable or evil. He's much more complex than that. He obviously has morals because he makes sure not to give Jon or Alanna anything that's been stolen. I just think he's a brilliant character and totally awesome.
Jon: I loved him from the start, but I'm learning to love him even more. It was interesting to see his relationship with Alanna expand past just friendship. He's a bit frustrating at times, but he means well and he's a great warrior and prince.
And I think some of Alanna's sassiness has rubbed off on Jon because this moment had me laughing and cheering out loud (thankfully alone rather than in public).
"Jem is very rash," Hilam told Alanna. I'm not. It's going to take far more than these little barbs to pierce my armor---"
"Perhaps my sword will pierce it, then? Jonathan asked coolly from the doorway."
Thom: I was wondering when he'd make his way back into the story in the flesh. I'm so anticipating where his ambition and sorcery will take him throughout the rest of the story. His dynamic with Alanna is weird and fascinating. It's especially fascinating because you just now realize that you don't know that much of his personality firsthand as he wasn't in much of the first book.
Gary: His reaction to Alanna's secret was my favorite thing ever. He's my favorite of all of the other knights. We didn't see as much of him in this one, but what we did see I loved just as much as before.
I am loving the plots and arcs of these books because there are quite a few of them and they are all winding and they twist together in cool ways. I love that there is always something about to happen, something to keep the story engaging. (From the war with Tusaine to Duke Roger to Lady Delia). Now that some of those things have been resolved I am excited to see what comes along next to test Alanna.
The writing is practically perfect. It's simple and to the point, but it manages to tell the story with this whimsical yet adventurous tone.
I would also like to draw attention to the voices of the characters. Each character sounds different with different tones and intonations. And the different ways of speaking match the characters' personalities and upbringing.
"Why do boys say someone acts like a girl as if it were an insult?"
"...she had learned that boys knew girls as little as girls know boys. It didn't make sense---people are people, after all..."
"All right---I'm afraid. But it won't do me any good to give into it, will it?