Trickster’s Choice, by Tamora Pierce, isn’t exactly a book you would read to kids. Honestly. It’s a good book though, the main character is Alanna the Lioness’s daughter, Alianne of Pirate’s Swoop. Or Aly for short. When she first appears, she’s got a veil over her head. George Cooper, her father, wants to know why. She takes it off and reveals that her hair is blue. It is apparently the latest fashion at the university, where they had a hair tonic that had one side affect, the colour. After a bit of discussion, Aly sorts through her father’s papers, putting them in stacks decided by their importance. Once this was acomplished, she took the ones for decoding and started doing so.
One of the reports was from a Scanran spy, it was so important that George had to go to meet him. The same day, Alanna came back from the war for a break. Her horse, Darkmoon, was injured as well. They talk for awhile, then get into the argument about her future. Alanna wants her to choose what she wants to be. When Aly suggests becoming a spy, Alanna is furious (Aly had already asked George, and he had refused), saying that no daughter of hers is going to be a spy. She decides to make Aly her “project” until she goes back to the war. Aly packs some things and decides to go to Port Legann for awhile so that her parent’s anger will blow over, and they’ll have time to be with each other.
On her way, she’s captured by pirates, has a slave collar put around her neck, and has her hair chopped off. They take her to the Copper Isles. There she is not bought by anyone in the slave market (this might be because she prayed to the gods that she wouldn’t be bought for… certain things. Or this might be because she managed to get herself a few scars and a broken nose so that she’d look like a fighter). In the end, she’s given as a free “add-on” you could say, to another slave that the Balitangs bought. The Balitangs are from the Rittevon family on the father’s side, and (this fact isn’t well known to any but the raka (the people with brown skin)) the ancient Hamain family, which means that the two eldest girls (Dove and Sarai are their nicknames) are doubly royal. Their mother died, and Winnamine is their step-mother, also mother to their two full-blooded laurin (white) siblings, Petranne and Elsren.
The Balitangs are a good family, fair to the slaves, and the servants (free slaves). The cook, Chenaol, is nice and tells the other slaves to leave Aly alone. And before I go further, I’d like to mention that I made an error in one of my previous reviews, the Carthaki prince (now emperor) is not named Cadar, it’s Kaddar. Sorry about that. Anyway, Aly serves the Balitangs, secretly makes lock picks for herself, and then later finds that the Balitangs are under suspicion from the current king (who is quite mad). They have to go into exile and sell most of their things, and give away most of their servants. When the mage who will determine what their special talents are comes, Kyprioth, the patron god of the Copper Isles (he’s the trickster god) appears, hiding inside the mage so he can talk to Aly.
He makes a deal with her, she’ll stay with the Balitangs and protect them until the end of summer, and if she does, he’ll send her back to Tortall and convince her father to allow her to become a spy for him. Mithros either appeared to the Balitangs, or Kyprioth pretended to be him so that he could have the Balitangs listening to her, and believing her to be a messanger of the gods, which she was then anyway. So she goes with the Balitangs, tells stories to the children (even Dove and Sarai, they want to hear of the Lioness), learns things about the Copper Isles (and about Kyprioth), and discovers that her father had also had an acquaintance with Kyprioth for awhile.
Along the way to the new home of the Balitangs, they stop some bandits from attacking them and stealing food, and they recruit them, using blood oaths to ensure their loyalty. A blood oath can’t be broken. Why? Because if it is, their blood boils and they die. Not a pleasant way to go. Things go well, and when Aly finds herself wishing for ways to find out about things she can’t herself, Kyprioth makes a wager with the crows and in her dreams, they teach her how to understand them. One, Nawat (who has a white mark on his back from when he fooled with a mage once), is very encouraging and nice to her. Aly, meanwhile, does goat herding so she can make maps of the surrounding area. At one point, Chenaol is going to kill her, but Kyprioth stops her and tells her that she’s there to help the raka. Chenaol is skeptical, but once the trickster god convinced her, Aly became one of the leaders of the group.
Nawat disappeared for awhile (in her dreams and in her waking hours), when he reappeared, he was a man. And he had a bag full of griffin and stormwing feathers. Aly was shocked, but Nawat didn’t get why. Nawat had feather patterns under his skin still, and he still ate bugs, no matter what they did. After awhile, when she was talking about how Prince Bronau might bring trouble for them, Nawat suggested mating and then mobbing Bronau’s flock when their nestlings were grown. Aly had to explain that human children didn’t grow as fast, and she told him she wasn’t interested in mating. Nevertheless, Nawat continued to persist with that through the whole book, at one point saying “Sarai said I have to sneak up on you”. XD He’s really quite sweet. And he has a couple of interesting talents, he killed two men by kicking them between the shoulder blades (then sprang up into a tree), another time he caught arrows, spears, and most other weapons in midair. And he knows how to cut stormwing arrows so they can be put on an arrow.
Meanwhile, more and more raka come under Aly’s command, and they discover that the head of the guards is a spy for the Crown. After awhile, Ulasim (the footman) has his daughter stay by Aly as her bodyguard. They stop assassination attempts on the family, and various other things, Mequen (Lord Balitang) dies at one point thanks to Bronau, and Aly’s collar is removed, because Winnamine insists that is now even more pointless than before. They tried to remove it before they left the city, but Aly had insisted that with it she could sneak around and find out more things with it than without it. It’s a really good book, and I’d recommend it to anyone. 😛 The way Nawat talks about things (like castles, he called them stone sticks the first time) is very amusing. He was my favorite character in this other than Chenaol, Winnamine, and Dove. 🙂