Title: Trickster’s Choice
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2003
Alianne of Pirate’s Swoop, called Aly, is the daughter of legendary lady knight Alanna, and the King’s Spymaster, George Cooper. Aly wishes desperately to follow in her father’s footsteps, much to the chagrin of her parents. In an act of defiance, Aly sails her little boat out to open water where she is captured by pirates. Sold to a wealthy family, the Balitangs, Aly soon finds her thirst for adventure quenched as she is swept into a world of political intrigue. Her new home, the Copper Isles, is plagued by racial segregation and distrust. The native Raka are ruled by the Luarin and they bide their time as they wait for their trickster god, Kyprioth, to overthrow his siblings. Kyprioth eventually reveals himself to Aly, and he becomes a benefactor of sorts in exchange for her assistance in protecting the Balitang children. Aly accepts, and with the help of a handsome companion named Nawat, she finds herself acting as spymaster for the Balitang family.
Pierce once again writes a story with a strong and talented female protagonist. Aly grows up in the shadow of her legendary parents, but wants to be allowed to forge her own path. This is a feeling that is often shared by teens seeking their place in the world.
The gender barriers are not as apparent as they are in Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series, and more emphasis is placed on race relations and social classes. Although Pierce’s story is set in a non-existent realm, it definitely appears that she gleaned inspiration from real life historical events. The dark-skinned Raka represent indigenous people that have been subjugated by light-skinned colonizers known as the Luarin. The islands are in turmoil as social unrest brews below the surface. Aly is also a light-skinned outsider, but her status as a slave gives her access to information that might otherwise be concealed from her.
Reader’s Annotation: Aly seems to have found favor with the trickster god, Kyprioth. But is she being tricked by the ultimate trickster?
About the Author:
“Tamora was born on December 13, 1954. She and her family moved around a lot, but she spent most of her childhood in Pennsylvania. Her father introduced her to writing, and by the time she was in the seventh grade, she was writing her own fiction, poems, and plays. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a BA in liberal arts in 1976. In her junior year of college, Tamora published her first short story, which inspired her to take a writing class her senior year. She moved to Manhattan to pursue a publishing career, where her agent convinced her to turn a novel she had written her first year after college into four children’s books.
Tamora’s fantasy novels for young readers are noted for their strong female protagonists and their imaginative, well-drawn plots. She enjoys writing for teenagers because she hopes to be helping kids in that difficult age group. She attributes her success to her writing mentors and authors she read growing up. She is actively trying to create more female role models through her works. She says that “guy heroes” still greatly outnumber “girl heroes.” It is not that she has anything against males, and boys often play strong, positive roles in her books. However, she wants to let girls know that they “too can get out there and DO things right along with guys.”’
Genre: Young adult, Fantasy
Curriculum Ties: N/A
- Talk about Aly’s frustration with her parents for not allowing her to train as a spy.
- Read an excerpt of Ally learning to speak Crow
Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 6-8, Ages 11-16
Challenge Issues: magic
From the Library Bill of Rights: “II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”
Justification of Selection: This is a great adventure story with a strong female protagonist. Teens will enjoy Aly’s cleverness and quick thinking.
Scholastic, Inc. (2015). Tamora Pierce. Scholastic. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/contributor/tamora-pierce