I beg you to ignore the terrible 80’s style book covers, because inside is the story of Alanna, lady of knight of Tortall, whose saga of growing up and overcoming obstacles is the equal of any fantasy hero coming into his or her own (think: Harry Potter, and the like). In these four books we follow Alanna from ten years old, on the day she decides to disguise herself as a boy and trade places with her brother so she can go to the palace and learn to be a knight, until she is an experienced knight and sorcerer.
I am often wary of stories where girls dress as boys to get what they want, but Alanna’s secret is slowly discovered by her closest friends, and eventually comes out to the whole kingdom at the end of the second book when she becomes a knight. The third and fourth books deal with Alanna as a knight and a woman, becoming a desert shaman and adventuring in distant lands to bring back an artifact with important magic for her kingdom. These are stories of action-packed battles, intense sorcery, palace intrigue, fate and destiny, love and loyalty. I am fond of Alanna as a person, she is at turns stubborn, wry, insecure, honest, and noble. She gathers around herself an interesting supporting cast of friends, lovers, knights, tribesmen, and thieves. If you love fantasy and adventure, Alanna is someone you’ll want to meet.
There are a lot of different, perhaps better, covers if you do a Google image search. I like this one:
In addition to being available on our shelves, the first book is also available through the digital catalog, in E-Audio format and each of these books are available as Audiobooks on CD through the CW/MARS catalog (That’s Central Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing, to you… which means you can order stuff from other libraries). The audiobooks are quite good, read by actress Trini Alvarado, who does a great job of giving each character a unique voice.
If you find you enjoy this series, or other timeless tales of fantasy and adventure, check out this list of Classic Fantasy I made.