Author Profile: Tamora Pierce

If books combining chivalrous knights, magnificent mages, and courageous ladies peak your interest, Tamora Pierce may be just the author you’ve been looking for. Born in Pennsylvania on December 13, 1954, Pierce was an avid reader in childhood and began writing her own science fiction and fantasy tales beginning in the sixth grade. Following college, she took a handful of jobs to pay for necessary living expenses while selling short stories or articles when able. Finally, in 1983, Pierce’s first novel, Alanna: the First Adventure, was published by Atheneum Books; establishing the fantastical realm of Tortall and forging the way for the other strong female characters yet to come.

Medieval fantasy staples such as benevolent monarchs, daring knights, treacherous usurpers, powerful magics, bloody battles, and marvelous beasts all populate the pages of Pierce’s novels. Yet, the most common element connecting her works is the incredibly strong females: woman warriors, if not by title then through action. All of her heroines stand apart, each possessing unique abilities and traits enviable even to the most tried male counterparts.

Writing often in quartets (a series of four novels), Pierce develops her characters from resilient, stubborn girls to confident, powerful young women. The majority of her writings are set in the fictional kingdom of Tortall. The three Tortallan quartets–The Song of the Lioness Quartet, The Immortals Quartet, and Protector of the Small–and one duet–Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen–interconnect, allowing beloved characters to make appearances while still focusing on the main protagonist’s growth. Alanna the Lioness, Daine the Wildmage, Kel the Protector, and Aly the Trickster all become legends through their own grit, determination, and ingenuity.
Pierce’s most recent writings, another Tortallan series, follows the story of Beka Cooper in Terrier: a Tortall Legend. Set two hundred years in the past, Beka is a “puppy” to the provost guard “hounds”. Uncovering murders and solving mystery in the capital city, Corus. On April 14th, book two in the Beka Cooper series, Bloodhound: a Tortall Legend, was released. Also, Pierce has filmed a question and answer video in which she discusses these newest additions to her body of work while answering reader questions.

Set in the land of Emelan, Pierce has also written about a group of young mages-in-training in the Circle of Magic quartet. Sandry, Daja, Briar, and Trisana, masters of weaving, plants, fire, and weather, respectively, come to terms with their new-found power and grow in friendship in the Winding Circle Temple. Each book in the quartet is dedicated to one girl and her own self-discovery. In the Circle Opens quartet, the story resumes four years in the future. The girls, now full mages, are responsible for instructing their own trainee charges.

For almost three decades, Tamora Pierce has been generating young adult reads with compelling tales, well-crafted universes, and celebrated heroines. If you’re looking for a book, series, or author that will challenge your notions of what girls should be and do, Tamora Pierce, along with her all her cohorts–Alanna, Daine, Kel, and Ali, to name a few–might be the group for you.

(by Abby, Gradute Student Intern)
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