In the Hand of the Goddess
February 15, 2018 3:01 PM - by Tamora Pierce - Subscribe

Still disguised as a boy, Alanna becomes a squire to none other than the prince of the realm. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna's liege lord, he is also her best friend—and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a mysterious sorcerer threatens the prince's life, it will take all of Alanna's skill, strength, and magical power to protect him—even at the risk of revealing who she really is.

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posted by Eyebrows McGee (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't quite remember whether Roger actually has a mustache, or if I just imagine that he's twirling it constantly.
posted by asperity at 10:14 AM on February 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

The thing that really gets me about the setup of this book is the part where it's a) totally normal for brand-new knights to take squires and b) those brand-new knights are the only ones mentioned as potential mentors for Alanna. (And of course c) that it's appropriate for knight and squire to bang, but, well.)

The part where Jonathan's the only knight who's aware Alanna's a girl does limit her options, but there's no reason that all the older and more experienced knights wouldn't be lining up to make offers for the Best Page. It would have been entertaining for her to have to come up with plausible reasons to turn down objectively better placements. Jonathan's a prince, but what has he got to teach Alanna? Other than in bed, I mean.

(And the part where Alanna tells Jonathan he should expect to marry a virgin, egad. Was that in this book or the next?)

In conclusion: more wacky hijinks needed.
posted by asperity at 10:26 AM on February 19, 2018

Asperity, I don't think I ever picked up on that as a kid, but yeah, it is weird. I don't get the sense that Alanna learns anything from Jon other than the stuff she picks up on getting to go to Secret Prince Meetings; all her training is from the teachers in the squire program. Contrast that to later books, where it's pretty obvious Alanna's squire learns a LOT from her. I know Pierce has mentioned that one of the many reforms put in place later is to education and knight training, wonder if that's the kind of thing she means.

Following on the racism discussion on the first book, it was so, so jarring that Si-Cham was referred to as "yellow" or "the yellow man" several times. Ugh. I mean, I'm assuming that's intended to be a reference to his race, and not that he's severely jaundiced. Was that really acceptable in the 80s? Looks like this came out in 84.
posted by john_snow at 7:37 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Almost done with this in audio form which I’m listening to with young kids in the car - is there ANY mention of sexual violence in the next two books?
posted by bq at 2:05 PM on March 20, 2018

Also, wtf is up with the total lack of sexual restrictions? It’s just generally known that the Prince is spending the night with one of the Court ladies? For dynastic reasons alone that makes no sense. I don’t get the feeling that this was thought through.
posted by bq at 2:08 PM on March 20, 2018

They had working birth control in Alanna's world - she has a charm to prevent her from getting pregnant and one can assume that the other court ladies did, too.

However, once we get to Keladry, mention is made of a young woman needing to be a virgin when she got married (I think it's when she talks to her mother), so there is definitely an inconsistency there. I think some leeway (for lack of a better term) would have been allowed for a prince.

This was my favorite of the original Alanna quartology, although the racism is jarring upon re-read, and Thom's character never really made sense to me. Also, Alex had warning signs on him that even the teenage me picked up upon and I was really surprised when Alanna agreed to duel him. Really dumb, honestly. It's also not anywhere nearly as well-written as some of the next books, and Alanna definitely has "chosen of the Gods" written all over her. But I enjoyed it a lot and it's one I go back to every so often. I especially loved the scene when she beat the Tusaine knight in a duel.
posted by dancing_angel at 5:03 PM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not great with consent in this one. Her two closest friends hit on her and kiss her, after she tells them again and again that she's not interested. The goddess even decides to tell her to be open to love, not kick the asses of jerks. And after they hassle her enough she decides she is okay with the kissing? Really? I wonder if it's partially because her self defense is generally deadly force, which she'd prefer not to use on friends. And that it might be easier to tell yourself that you like something if you continually can't stop it from happening.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:35 PM on May 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

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