Trickster’s Queen, by Tamora Pierce (Random House, 2004)

When we last saw our heroine, Aly, better known as Alianne of Pirate’s Swoop, daughter of the legendary Alanna the Lioness of Tortall, she’d agreed to stay in the Copper Isles, to see through the completion of a wager made with Kyprioth, the deposed trickster god. In the preceding months, Aly’d survived capture by pirates, been sent into slavery, and eventually won her freedom through resourcefulness and cunning. Now caught up in a rebellion centuries in the making, part of a plot to restore the rightful raka rulers of the Isles, and the pawn of a capricious god, Aly will be tested beyond her limits as the final pieces of the plan fall into place. All she has to do now is keep her young charges, Dove and Sarai, safe until Sarai can be installed as the new queen of the Copper Isles. At her disposal, Aly has the training of a spymaster, an ever-growing network of native agents, her inborn magic, the intermittent favor of a god, and the friendship of the crows (as well as the love of a crow turned human, called Nawat). So why does she still feel so uneasy? When something she could never have predicted happens, Aly will have to think quickly to save everything, including herself.

Once again, Tamora Pierce turns in a gripping tale of a strong heroine trying to find her destiny in the world. Aly, as unlike her warrior mother as can be, may have found her element at last, but she has yet to undergo her trial by fire. Trickster’s Queen, like the first in this duology, Trickster’s Choice, is that trial. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it here: Aly may be one of the most likeable, capable, self-sufficient, fun characters I’ve seen in a long time, and it was a genuine shame to finish this book and know we won’t see her again for a long time. This is definitely some of Pierce’s best writing to date, and I heartily recommend Trickster’s Queen, provided you’ve read Trickster’s Choice first.

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