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"Why do boys say someone acts like a girl as if it were an insult?" ―In the Hand of the Goddess

In the Hand of the Goddess

Song of the Lioness #2

by Tamora Pierce
AR Test, Strong Female Character


At A Glance
Interest Level

12+
Entertainment
Score
Reading Level
5.2
Number of Pages
256

Few know that tiny Alan, who is squire to none other than the prince himself, is actually a girl named Alanna. In order to become a knight, Alanna has been forced to disguise herself for years. Despite this secret, she has managed to become one of the greatest squires of her year. Squire Alan is admired for his skill with the bow and sword, and he’ll need those skills for what’s coming. Dark magic and treachery surround the crown and Alanna’s friend, Prince Jon. Alanna might be the only one capable of bringing such plots to light.

While this book has slightly more adult content, the descriptions are not gory and the writing is discreet. Alanna kisses two men and takes one for her lover, but there are no descriptions about her having intercourse. This book continues the exciting adventures found in the first installment, and Alanna remains a strong and likable female heroine.

Sexual Content

  • The Goddess asks why Alanna fears love. “Yet what is there for you to fear? Warmth? Trust? A man’s touch?” Alanna replies, “I don’t want a man’s touch!”
  • George and Alanna kiss. ” ‘Alanna,’ he whispered, ‘I’m takin’ advantage of you now, because I may never catch you with your hands full again.’ He kissed her softly and carefully. Alanna trembled, too shocked to do anything but let it happen.”
  • Alanna thinks about Jon’s relationship with Delia. “The girl would convince Jon one day that she was his alone, and ignore him the next. Soon they were sleeping together–”
  • George kisses Alanna goodbye. “George kissed her, pulling her close. His mouth was warm and comforting. Alanna had not forgotten the last time, and she had discovered that she liked his kisses. Relaxing, she let her friend hold her tightly.”
  • Jon kisses Alanna. “Suddenly he was very close. Alanna discovered she was afraid to breathe. Carefully, almost timidly, Jonathan kissed her mouth.”
  • Alanna is walking in a garden. “A night for lovers, she thought, then bit her lip. She had no lover, and she didn’t want one.”
  • Jon kisses Alanna again. “Swiftly he kissed her again and again . . . She was scared. She suddenly realized she wanted to be the one in his bed tonight. Jonathan stopped kissing her, only to start unlacing her bodice. Alanna shoved him away, terrified.”
  • Alanna and Jon start sleeping together, though it is not described further than “At night, Jonathan taught her about loving.”
  • When joking about bathing, Alanna says, “You just don’t want Gary to see me bare.” Jon replies, ” ‘You’re right I don’t! Do you?’ . . . When Alanna only giggled, Jonathan repeated, ‘Do you?’ “
  • Jon kisses her goodbye. “He kissed her fiercely before letting her go.”

Violence

  • When Alanna duels, her partner breaks the rules. “She stepped back too slowly, and the tip of Dain’s sword sank deep into her right arm below the elbow… According to the rules, Dain had won… He lunged for her chest, his eyes wide and crazy. Alanna jumped aside, just missing dying on the Tusaine’s sword.”
  • Alanna gets into a border skirmish. “Swiftly Alanna slid Lightning into the opening between the knight’s arm and chest armor, thrusting deep. With a gasp of surprise, her enemy fell from his horse, dead.”
  • Alanna is attacked by a wolf. “She saw nothing but the wolf, who was doing his best to fling her off his back. She held on, desperately striking again and again with her knife. Suddenly the wolf shuddered and howled; her blade had entered his side. He fell, his paws twitching. She had stabbed him to the heart.”
  • Alanna and George are attacked. “She rode Moonlight straight at a man who was putting an arrow to his bow. The mare trampled him ruthlessly as Alanna drew Lightning, slashing at a third attacker.”
  • Alex tries to kill Alanna when they are practicing their swordplay. “The blunt edge struck her collarbone rather than her skull. Bone cracked in her shoulder as she fell to her knees with a cry of pain. Helplessly she watched the sword swing up and down, unable to stop its slicing toward her throat.”
  • Alanna kills Roger after he tries to kill the Queen. ” ‘The Goddess!’ She yelled, leaping forward. Lightning struck the cloud, slicing it open to find Roger at its heart . . . The sword cut even deeper this time as Alanna opened her eyes, blinking to clear her vision. Roger stood, trying to pull her sword out of his body.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • George and his other friends, all in adulthood or their late teens, drink ale.
  • George offers Alanna brandy in celebration. Alanna says, “Normally I just drink this stuff to clear my head, but–this is quite pleasant.”
  • George knows Alanna will worry herself silly before her Ordeal of Knighthood, so he sneaks something into her drink that makes her sleep.

Language

  • When captured, Alanna distracts a man so her fellow captives can escape. “Behavior I’d expect from the goatherd’s bastard, not a nobleman . . . Perhaps your mother tricked your father?”
  • Alanna occasionally curses with the gods names when surprised or upset. ” ‘Great Merciful Mother!’ Alanna gasped.”
  • Damn is said once or twice. “Myles said he was damned if he would get up at this hour . . . “

Supernatural

  • Alanna is blessed by the Mother, also known as the Goddess, who is one of Tortall’s many deities. The Goddess visits Alanna occasionally, bestowing advice and sometimes gifts.
  • Someone tries to kill Alanna with sorcery. “When an ugly, cloven hoof burst through the beaten snow over the tent opening, Alanna thrust upward with all her strength. She burst from the snow, shaking clumps from her face, to feel her sword wrenched from her hand… Gripping her sword hilt to pull it free, she stopped; the boar’s eyes were a demonic red. Suddenly he shuddered one last time–and vanished.”

Spiritual Content

  • There are many gods in Tortall, such as the Dark God, the Goddess and the Crooked God. Different people honor different gods, and Alanna has glimpses of them because she is god-touched. “A huge shadow figure was bending over her. ‘Thor,’ she sighed, recognizing the Dark God. ‘You want Thor.’ Reaching out a hand that was blacker than night, the God touched Alanna’s eyes.”
  • Alanna’s partner cheats during a duel. Afterwards her friend says, “he gave you every excuse to kill him . . . even his Ambassador would have understood if you had.” Alanna replies that, “Just because he behaved badly is no excuse for me to behave badly.”
  • Alanna thinks that soldiers, “only cared about pain and the Dark God’s arrival.”
  • When Alanna finds a dying friend, he asks for her help. ” ‘I’d just like to . . . go to sleep. I’m that tired.’ Alanna trembled. Healing was natural for her, but she had never killed a human being with her Gift. She didn’t think she could . . . Alanna pressed her good hand to Thor’s forehead, her Gift lighting the clearing with a deep violet fire. ‘Sleep, Thor,’ she whispered. She felt him falling away gently, slipping into a long, dark well. Alanna rose. Thor’s chest was still.”

by Morgan Lynn

Other books by Tamora Pierce
Other books you may enjoy

"Why do boys say someone acts like a girl as if it were an insult?" ―In the Hand of the Goddess

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