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Mighty She Roars

We’ve reached the grand conclusion of Tamora Pierce’s first series with Lioness Rampant, in which Alanna returns home and proves firsthand why she’s earned that Knight’s shield.

Mighty She Roars

BOOK REPORT for Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness #4) by Tamora Pierce

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the fourth and last book in the Song of the Lioness series, so if you haven’t read Alanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, or The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up with the first book in the library by the pool before continuing.

Cover Story: Battle Ready
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Two-Parter
Bonus Factors: Boss Battle, Capable Ladies
Anti-Bonus Factor: Character Deaths
Relationship Status: Old Friends

Cover Story: Battle Ready

This is Alanna in all her glory, ready to defend the defenseless and protect her king. It’s not the most exciting of covers, but it certainly fits the title and theme.

For our last alternate “Creepy Alanna” cover, it looks like Alanna, who has now fully embraced her magical Gift, is going to perform some witchy-woo in order to blast me into a hell dimension. What did I ever do to you?

The Deal:

After months of what feels like an aimless (but eventful!) existence, Alanna has finally discovered the perfect quest to test her knighthood and prove her worth to her kingdom: recover the Dominion Jewel, an ancient tool of magic and power from almost mythical origins. It’s said a king with the Jewel in hand can make the land itself shudder, for good or ill. The last known location of the prize is across the continent in a war-torn country, protected on a harsh mountain range by not just an immortal being, but also by the thing Alanna hates most: the cold.

Despite her desire to claim the Dominion Jewel for Jonathan and his royal family, Alanna can’t shake the feeling—or ignore the omens—that her place is back in Corus. There’s a foul breeze blowing from the capital, and something wicked this way comes.

BFF Charm: Platinum Edition

This is the Alanna I know and love, being partial to the later Tortall series. A lady who knows her mind, is courageous and determined, more than a little persnickety when she doesn’t get her way but big-hearted and endlessly loyal. I think Alanna regains some of the brash confidence she had in the first book that simply came from being a child and feeling like you’re invincible, but it’s been tempered with time and experience into something more refined and elegant. I love Alanna’s new female friendships with refugees Thayet and Buri, as this is one of the few times we get to see her connect with other women on her level. Now that’s a group I’d camp out with!

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

For someone who didn’t believe in love, Alanna has sure changed her tune as she juggles not one, not two, but three men who adore her. But Alanna now knows what she wants and who can give that to her. Each relationship’s storyline ended exactly where it needed, in my opinion, and I was not disappointed.

As a child reading this series, I was never crazy about Liam because he was so obviously NOT George or Jonathan, and therefore a big waste of time. As an adult, I can appreciate his place in Alanna’s heart as a life lesson she needed to go through, though what bothered me about him now was not so much his presence, but his macho male attitude towards her. His term of endearment of “kitten” got old very quickly.

Talky Talk: Two-Parter

This book felt like two very distinct segments, which, at times, was a bit jarring. As always, I would’ve enjoyed more expansion of the quest to get the Dominion Jewel, perhaps in a different book by itself since there is so much that could’ve been explored before Alanna returned to Tortall. Although we’d only been away from the capital for a book and a half, it felt like so long, and I was just as happy as Alanna to see some of her old friends again.

Tamora takes a chapter or two away from Alanna's trip to show what’s been going on in the rest of Corus, specifically with Thom and George. While I appreciate these obviously very important parts of the story, I question if this was the best choice, stylistically. It feels like Alanna gets sidelined temporarily in her own book. Then again, I don’t know if I would prefer shorter, non-sequitur moments sprinkled throughout the rest of the novel either, so I guess if it ain’t broke...

Bonus Factor: Boss Battle

Alanna’s showdown with the Big Bad was spot-on, especially with the jump cuts to the rest of her friends fighting for their lives and comrades. Tensions were high, the stakes were real, and the writing was intense. This is Ms. Pierce at her finest.

Bonus Factor: Capable Ladies

Thayet and Buri show up on the scene with a bang, and I love their inclusion in the series. Tamora knows how to write strong women, and this book hints at what great things they will accomplish later in their lives (and in future series).

Anti-Bonus Factor: Character Deaths

I’m pretty sure I willfully forgot about some of these. The hits just kept coming, and by the end I felt as wrung out as Alanna.

Casting Call:

Domhnall Gleeson as Thom of Trebond

Domhnall has played a wide variety of characters, so portraying an egotistical mage who is in over his head is nothing for him.

Younger Kevin McKidd as Liam Ironarm

A hot red-head with muscles? Don’t mind if I do, Mr. McKidd.

Younger Priyanka Chopra as Princess Thayet

Thayet is supposed to be the most beautiful girl in her country, so that’s a lot of pressure to find the right leading lady. But I’m feeling pretty confident in this choice, because I don’t think Priyanka has ever had a bad hair day in her life.

Tanaya Beatty as Buri

No nonsense on the outside, but inside there lies a heart of gold. Love Buri!

Scott Patterson as Coram

He’s gruff, but good-hearted and loyal. Sounds like a particular diner-owner we know and love. 

Relationship Status: Old Friends

So crazy that we ran into each other after such a long time! We may not catch up as often as we can, and when I take a look back at our adventures, there’s some things I can see more clearly with the clarity that comes from age and maturity; but, overall I remember our times fondly and wish you nothing but the best.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Lioness Rampant is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.