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Trickster's Choice: Daughter of the Lioness Book 1    by Tamora Pierce order for
Trickster's Choice
by Tamora Pierce
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Tamora Pierce brings us another Tortall tale with a strong, spirited heroine. Aly (Alianne for long) is the only daughter of King's Champion, Lioness Alanna (a loving but mostly absentee mother) and George Cooper, Baron of Pirate's Swoop, spymaster and stay-at-home dad. He has raised Aly and they are very similar in attitude and talents (including some magical ones), to the dismay of Aly's mother, who wants a different future for her daughter. In her turn, Aly finds it tough 'being the daughter of a legend.'

Aly's parents are concerned that she has not found her place in the world, and lacks ambition. The problem is that they refuse to allow her to act in the dangerous role most suited to her talents, that is as a spy. Then fate takes it out of their hands, when she is captured by pirates on a sailing trip, and enslaved. Aly is sold into the noble household of the Balitangs in the Copper Isles, where luarin invaders have long subjugated the raka natives. It turns out that a god is manipulating events, the Trickster god Kyprioth, who assigns Aly the task of safeguarding the two elder half-raka daughters of the household, Sarai and Dove. Turns out they are expected to fulfill a prophecy.

Kyprioth assigns Aly crow helpers, one of whom, shapechanger Nawat, becomes a most unusual friend and wants to be more. Aly spends the summer as a spymaster, working with groups of rebels, and watching for conspiracies stretching out from the capital and the mad king. There are regular moments of humor, especially in Aly's aunt Daine's efforts to birth and raise a shapechanger baby, and in Nawat's interest in 'mate feeding'. But it's not a game, as Nawat emphasizes, 'You are never a game to me, Aly. And hawks are never a game to crows.' And there are human hawks aplenty in this story.

Despite the god's intervention, the 'hour of mortal choices' soon approaches, and Aly is on her mettle. As usual, Tamora Pierce has given us a fantastically entertaining read, with a lively and very competent heroine. I'm sure we'll see more of Aly.

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