Tamora Pierce (born December 13, 1954) is an author of fantasy literature for young adults. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania. Best known for writing stories involving young heroines, she made a name for herself with her first quartet The Song of the Lioness, which followed the main character Alanna through the trials and triumphs of training as a knight. Many of her books contain feminist themes, or give preference to women.
Pierce was born in South Connellsville, Pennsylvania in Fayette County, on December 13, 1954. Her mother wanted to name her "Tamara" but the nurse who filled out her birth certificate misspelled it as "Tamora". When she was five her sister Kimberly (whom she based Alanna on) was born and a year later her second sister, Melanie, was born. From the time she was five until she was eight, she lived in Dunbar. In June 1963 she and her family moved to California. They first lived in San Mateo on El Camino Real and then moved to the other side of the San Francisco Peninsula, in Miramar. They lived there for half a year, in El Granada a full year, and then three years in Burlingame.
She began reading when she was very young and started writing at about 6 years old. Her interest in fantasy and science fiction began when she was introduced to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and so she started to write the kind of books that she was reading. After her parents divorced, her mother moved her and her sisters back to Fayette County in 1969, where she spent two years at Albert Gallatin Senior High. When her family moved again, she spent her senior year at Uniontown Area Senior High School, acting, singing, and writing for the school paper.
While at the University of Pennsylvania she wrote the books that became The Song of the Lioness quartet. The first book of this quartet, The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.
Pierce lived with her husband Tim Liebe (Spouse-Creature) in upstate New York, with their four cats and multiple other pets, until they moved to Syracuse, New York.
In 2008, she donated her archive to the department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University.
On her homepage, Pierce states she gets most ideas from things she stumbles upon. Her concept of magic as a tapestry of threads comes from her experiences in crocheting, and in her world, all mages are somehow based on British naturalist Sir David Attenborough after watching his nature documentaries. Fantasy novels and Arthurian legend were the base of the worlds she thought up as a girl, and later she added contemporary issues like youth crime, cholera outbreaks in Africa and mistreatment of females by the Taliban. In general, Pierce states: "The best way to prepare to have ideas when you need them is to listen to and encourage your obsessions."
For aspiring writers, Pierce also tells you can circumvent a feared writer's block by introducing a new character who is bold and different from the rest, adding something dramatic to shake things up (i.e. an accident, a storm, an elopement), changing the point of view, writing something else while your main story is seemingly impossible to write or talking to friends about your book. Finally, if none of the above techniques work, Pierce suggests mercy-killing your story if you know it will not become anything worthwhile, and taking comfort in the notion you will avoid some errors the next time.
Pierce is also known for bringing in some scenes of sex and violence into her teenager books. She explains that it sticks close to historical past, in which people were married at 14 and had children soon after. In regards to premarital teenager sex, which also happens in her books, she states that all her heroines who engage in sexual relations do so only with contraception (i.e. some magic charm which prevents pregnancy). Finally, Pierce states that violence sadly has been a bane in all times, and even today there are social hot spots in big cities, people are exploited in sweatshops, and the slave trade remains active. She thinks that smugly ignoring these facts is irresponsible, and is quoted saying: "We need to face [cruelty and violence], even in books. Even in fantasy."
Pierce draws on elements of people and animals around her to inspire her characters. The character of Alanna is loosely based on Pierce's sister, and the villain Duke Roger is based on an ex-boyfriend. Thayet's appearance is based on a friend of Pierce's. Beka's pigeon friends in Provost's Dog are all based on actual pigeons of Pierce's acquaintance.
Tortall is a major country in the universe in which the Song of the Lioness, Immortals, Protector of the Small, Daughter of the Lioness (sometimes known as the Trickster books) and the Provost's Dog books take place. Its capital is Corus, located near the western coast on the Emerald Ocean. To the north is Scanra, a wild and somewhat barbaric country with whom Tortall went to war in the last two books of the Protector of the Small quartet and the first Trickster book, "Trickster's Choice." To the east are Galla, Tusaine, and Tyra, and past them are Maren and Sarain. Carthak is south of Tortall across the Inland Sea, while to the west lie the Yamani Islands and the Copper Isles. The Trickster books mostly take place in the Copper Isles, further south than the Yamani islands. In addition, Emperor Mage from the Immortals Quartet takes place in Carthak. Also, as the Provost's Dog books take place hundreds of years before the other books, Barzun, a nation between Tortall and the Inland Sea later conquered by Tortall, is occasionally mentioned.
The Song of the Lioness
Alanna of Trebond (later Alanna of Pirate's Swoop and Olau), is a ground-breaking female knight. Although noble-born girls traditionally go to the convent to learn how to be proper noblewomen and wives, Alanna desires to become a knight, a position only given to noble-born boys (although, as seen in the Provost's Dog books, there had historically been other lady knights). In order to achieve her dream, Alanna disguises herself as a boy under the name of Alan and goes to the palace in place of her twin brother Thom. As Thom has no interest in becoming a knight, and is far more interested in his magic, Thom forges a letter so that he can go to a temple, to become a sorcerer. The twins' father is concerned only with his studies, and pays them little attention, which helps their masquerade. He is also very strongly against magic, as he believed that it should have saved his wife when she died in childbirth, so he is opposed to the idea of Thom becoming a sorcerer. Alanna has a few relationships throughout the series, including Prince Jonathan, George Cooper and Liam Ironarm. The series follows Alanna's training and the early years of her knighthood, a timespan of ten years.
The Song of The Lioness was originally written as a single book for adults, but was rejected by the publisher. Pierce literally cut up the manuscript and used the pieces to form four new books for teenagers.
The First Adventure (1983) — Alanna, a young noble girl, disguises herself as a boy with the help of her twin brother, Thom, in order to realize her dream of becoming a knight as Thom goes to a temple to become a mage.
In the Hand of the Goddess (1984) — Finding life as a knight-in-training more difficult than she imagined but still in her disguise, Alanna serves as a squire to Prince Jonathan of Conté, fights in a war alongside her knight master and struggles with the attention of the evil Duke Roger of Conté.
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (1986) — After gaining her shield 'Sir Alanna' travels south, meeting up with a Bazhir tribe.
Lioness Rampant (1988) — Alanna travels to the "Roof of the World" in search of the Dominion Jewel in order to prove her worth. The Dominion Jewel is a legendary artifact rumored to unite any ruler who holds it with the land that he or she rules. She also duels with Duke Roger after he is resurrected by her brother Thom, and tries once again to take over Tortall.
This story is about Veralidaine Sarrasri who was orphaned when raiders attacked her village. Daine has an unusual (and extremely strong) gift of wild magic which is mistaken as insanity because she is unable to control it . Though convinced she has no magical Gift, it is discovered that she has 'wild magic' - a magic that is not uncommon, but for some reason is a disregarded branch of magic. What is rare is the amount of it that Daine possesses, and what she is able to do with it. This magic gives her a unique connection with animals. Her abilities manifest gradually throughout the series, allowing her first to speak with animals, to heal their injuries and eventually to shape-shift into animal forms. The series covers a timespan of four years, following Daine as she learns to communicate with humans, animals and Immortals.
Wild Magic (1992) — Daine, a 13-year-old girl, finds out her knack with wild animals is in fact a rare and powerful form of magic. Under the guidance of the mage Numair Salmalín(the most powerful mage in Tortall) she learns to control her magic, which proves very important for herself and her companions. This first novel in the quartet also reunites us briefly with the protagonist of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna of Pirate's Swoop and Olau, formerly Alanna of Trebond.
Wolf-Speaker (1994) — Reuniting with the wolf pack she previously lived with, Daine discovers that the destruction of the valley the pack lives in is connected with a treasonous conspiracy against her adopted king and country.
Emperor Mage (1995) — Daine joins a delegation of Tortallan diplomats sent to Carthak, where she finally meets the Emperor Ozorne, of whom she has heard so much. Daine is caught up in a strange battle involving displeased gods and strange magics.
The Realms of the Gods (1996) — Caught in a mysterious attack, Daine and Numair are snatched into the Divine Realms, where they meet Daine's parents (her father is a minor god of the hunt and when her mother died he brought her into the Divine Realm) and struggle to make their way back to Tortall, where war is raging again. This book takes place in both the Divine (immortal) and mortal realms.
Tamora Pierce will also be writing two books on Numair's life in Carthak, and right after he arrives. The working titles are Numair: The Early Years 1 and Numair: The Early Years 2, but these are likely to change. They are to be published in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Protector of the Small
This story is of Keladry of Mindelan, the first girl to follow in Alanna's footsteps...legally and without disguise, after a law is passed allowing girls to try for knighthood. As she begins her training, Kel is constantly harassed, injured, plagued by doubters and put on probation by her training master, who thinks a girl will never succeed. Kel discovers the hazing of young pages and fights the bullies to put a stop to it. Kel makes memorable friends throughout the series, including the wry Nealan of Queenscove and Lord Raoul of Goldenlake, an old friend of Alanna's. She also meets some key enemies, including Joren of Stone Mountain, her fellow page. The series follows Kel's training and the first year of her knighthood, a timespan of nine years.
First Test (1999) — Keladry of Mindelan, the first official female page, faces giant spidrens (Immortals, see the Immortals series), hazing, bullying and the mistrust of her superiors in her first probationary year as a page.
Page (2000) — Kel, to the surprise of many, is allowed to complete her page's training. In this second book of the series Kel faces dangers that will change the way pages are taught.
Squire (2001) — In the second half of her training, Kel has a new master, Raoul of Goldenlake, who gives her new duties, and teaches her new skills. Alongside her own study, Kel becomes increasingly involved with the war that brews on Tortall's northern border.
Lady Knight (2002) — Though she is a knight, Kel is still inexperienced. She struggles with her sense of duty when her commanders assign her not to the front lines of the war, but to manage a refugee camp.
This duology (also known as Daughter of the Lioness) is actually as long as the earlier quartets, because these books are about twice the length of the earlier works. Pierce explained that the success of the Harry Potter books finally showed publishers that young readers will read big books.
The duology is the story of Alianne (Aly) of Pirate's Swoop, the 16-year-old daughter of the legendary Alanna the Lioness. Disallowed work as a Tortallan spy by her parents, Aly leaves home only to be captured by pirates and sold into slavery in the Copper Isles. Under the guidance of Kyprioth, the god of tricksters, Aly involves herself with a conspiracy of the native raka people against their luarin conquerors, in accordance with a prophecy made by Kyprioth himself through one of his priestesses, centuries earlier. The duology covers a timespan of two years. Aly is a much different person from her mother, saying of herself, “Why, I’m just as true and honest as dirt. And I’m even more charming than dirt.”
Trickster's Choice (2003) — When Aly is taken by pirates, she is sold as a slave in the Copper Isles and makes a bet with the god Kyprioth, to protect the children of the Balitang family from unknown dangers. She soon learns that the two daughters, Saraiyu Balitang (Sarai) and Dovasary Balitang (Dove), are linked to the prophecy that predicts one of them will become queen. She learns to speak crow, and makes a wonderful friend, Nawat Crow, a crow turned man.
Trickster's Queen (2004) — Returning to Rajmuat after their short exile, the Balitang household prepares to overthrow the Rittevon throne that has ruled the Copper Isles for centuries and replace the vicious monarchs with a raka queen. Alianne, Alanna's daughter, is the conspiracy's spymaster.
This trilogy is set in the realm of Tortall, 200 years before The First Adventure. The first book in the series, Terrier, was released on October 24, 2006.
George Cooper is a young boy, six years of age, who is caught stealing. His ashamed mother then tells him about his famous ancestress, named Rebakah Cooper. "Beka" Cooper is a trainee for the Provost's Guard, which is Tortall's equivalent of a police force. In those days, they were called "Dogs" and trainees were known as "Puppies," both of whom were stationed at "Kennels" (this was where the term "Provost's Dog" came from).
The first book in the new trilogy, Terrier, concerns Beka's first months as a Puppy. All of Pierce's previous books were written in the third person, but this series is told from a diary-style first person perspective. Beka's entries detail how hard she works to try to make her home, the Lower City of Corus, safer.
Beka's roots in the Lower City give her both a keen insight and a sense of empathy for the people she is there to protect. Beka is referred to as a "Terrier" for her youth and dogged determination despite her size.
The second book in this trilogy, Bloodhound, was released on April 14, 2009.
The third book is said to be called Mastiff, formerly titled Elkhound. It is slated for release in 2011.
The Circle Universe
The "Circle of Magic" books are set in the land of Emelan, while the 'Circle Opens' series is set in various neighbouring countries.
The series tell the story of four children, Sandrilene fa Toren, Trisana Chandler, Daja Kisubo and Briar Moss (formerly Roach), known as Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar, respectively, whom are discovered and brought together by a powerful mage Niklaren Goldeye (called Niko) and told that they are "ambient mages," which means that they use magic from outside themselves. The four youths do not fit in with the other children of the monastic community to which Niko brings them, and are put together in a separate cottage, called Discipline. Here they each learn of their hidden talents; Sandry with thread, Tris with weather, Daja with fire and metal, and Briar with plants. They live with the two mages Lark, a gentle woman especially attentive to Sandry since she also has thread magic, and Rosethorn, a sharp woman who shares Briar's ability with plants. Also teaching and guiding them is Niko, technically Tris's teacher, but available to all four. Daja is mentored and guided by Dedicate Initiate Frostpine, a smith mage. Their teachers, with the exception of Niko, are also ambient mages. At first it seems that a merchant, a street rat, a noblewoman, and a Trader (a trading race that is often hated by others) will never get along, but an extraordinary circumstance brings them together. They are all powerful individually, but they discover that together they are even stronger. Through an earthquake, they realize their full potential and are bound closely together forever. As children skilled in an uncommon magic, they struggle to earn the respect of the adults they encounter.
Circle of Magic
Sandry's Book, UK title The Magic in the Weaving (1997) — The four young mages are brought together to learn about their newfound magic. When they are trapped in the midst of an earthquake, they must spin their powers together to survive.
Tris's Book, UK title The Power in the Storm (1998) — Winding circle is attacked by pirates with a strange new weapon and a spy amongst the mages. The Winding Circle temple faces complete destruction. What will the four do to stop the attack?
Daja's Book, UK title The Fire in the Forging (1998) — Duke Vedris takes the four and their teachers to northern Emelan where wild grass fires had been ruining the harvest. Daja finds a Trader caravan and is torn between two fates, to be back with the people she was raised with but labelled her an outcast or to stay with her friends and teachers.
Briar's Book, UK title The Healing in the Vine (1999) — When a deadly illness strikes Summersea, the four and their teachers work to stop it. Just as they begin to succeed, the illness strikes back at just what Briar loves most.
The Circle Opens
During this series the young mages are officially certified by Winding Circle and become teachers. In this quartet the original four protagonists decide to travel with their teachers, each taking on a new student and combating problems abroad.
Magic Steps (2000) — Sandry finds a dance-mage boy in Summersea, the twelve-year-old Pasco Acalon, the son and grandson of two police families (known as "harriers" in Summersea). When a rich trading family falls prey to a serial killer, she and Pasco must work together to stop the killer mages who have a deadly weapon- unmagic, which is the absence of magic and life.
Street Magic (2001) — In Chammur, Briar discovers a street girl named Evvy (Evumeimei Dingzai), and finds she has stone-magic. But the noblewoman-sponsor of the sinister Viper gang has her eye on Evvy, and Briar must protect his young student from the lady's greed.
Cold Fire (2002) — Daja travels to Namorn in the far north, and discovers her host's twin daughters' magical talent: Niamara (Nia), whose magic is with carpentry and woodwork, and Jorality (Jory), whose magic is with cooking. All the while someone is setting fires throughout the city, despite the best efforts of Bennat Ladradun, head of the firefighters.
Shatterglass (2003) — Tris encounters Kethlun Warder (Keth), an undiscovered glass mage who "lost" his glass talent when he was hit by lightning, but gained the ability to mix lightning and glass. Keth can create glass balls that contain visions of the work of a murderer who incidentally orphaned Glakisa Irakory (Glaki), a 4 year old academic mage who lives in the same place as Keth. Keth also created a living glass dragon, named Chime by Tris. Together, Tris and Keth are the only ones who can expose the murderer.
These books take place as the children go from about age 10, in the first series, to 14 in the second.
The Will of the Empress
The Will of the Empress (UK October 2005, ISBN 0-439-44171-4; US November 2005, ISBN 0-439-44171-4)
The initial working title for this book was The Circle Reforged. It is the first book in "The Circle Reforged" series.
Sandry's cousin, the Empress of Namorn (Berenene dor Ocmor), has been begging her to come visit her for years. Finally the stitch witch agrees, but her uncle requests that her childhood friends accompany her. However, during the time they were separated the foursome has broken apart, and are now adults with secrets that they once would have shared. Sandry expects to visit her cousin for the summer then return home to her uncle in Emelan, but the Empress has other plans. As the four soon find out, the iron will of the Empress is considered law, and the four must set aside their doubts and trust each other as they once did if they are to escape.
It is hinted throughout this book that Briar and Rosethorn had significant adventures in Gyongxe, the first home of the Living Circle temples. These events have been announced to be the subject of a forthcoming book.
This story was first released as a full-cast audio book (produced by Full Cast Audio) to be followed by paper versions. This is the first full length novel written expressly for audio. The recording date had been postponed, and the audiobook was finally released in fall 2007. Pierce herself directs the recording. The print version was released in fall 2008. The story is based on Evvy, who with Rosethorn goes to investigate the weird happenings of an island. Plants and animals are dying and the two mages are there to find out why. Meanwhile Evvy meets two lava/magma spirits and is caught up in their quest to escape their mountain tomb.
Tamora Pierce currently has two Circle books in the works. The first, set sometime between the events of Street Magic and The Will of the Empress, will tell the story of Briar, Evvy and Rosethorn and their adventures in Yanjing and Gyonxe. This story is set for release in 2012. The other forthcoming Circle book will be set after the events of Empress, and will follow Tris as she enrolls "at the mages' university in Lightsbridge under an assumed name, in an attempt to become an ordinary mage practicing normal academic magic (spells, charms, potions) with no one knowing her real name or power." She does so after realizing that her prospective employers only want to use her weather craft as war magic.. Also due for publication on February 22, 2011 is Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales which is set to contain not only the majority of the previously published short stories listed below but also "Lost," about a girl from Tusaine, and "Nawat".
"Plain Magic" - A fantasy short story. (1986, first published in Planetfall, re-published in 1999 in Flights of Fantasy)
"Testing" - A contemporary, real-life short story. (2000, published in Lost and Found)
"Elder Brother" - A Tortallan short story. (2001, published in Half Human, an anthology edited by Bruce Coville, also published in a two-in-one Circle of Magic book titled Books One and Two: Water and Fire)
"Student of Ostriches" - A Tortallan short story. (2005, published in Young Warriors: Stories of Strength, an anthology edited by Pierce and Josepha Sherman)
"Huntress" - A contemporary fantasy short story. (2006, published in Firebirds Rising, an anthology edited by Sharyn November)
"Hidden Girl" - A Tortallan short story, set in the same country as "Elder Brother". (2006, published in Dreams and Visions, an anthology edited by M. Jerry Weiss)
"Time of Proving" - A fantasy short story. (2006, published in Cricket)
"Slippery in the Stairwell, 1965" - A contemporary, real-life short story. (2009, published in My Little Red Book)
"The Dragon's Tale" - A Tortall short story (2009, published in The Dragon Book)
On February 24 at New York Comicon, Marvel Comics announced that Pierce and her husband Tim Liebe would be writing a new series, starring former FBI agent Angela Del Toro as the new White Tiger. White Tiger launched as a six-issue series drawn by French artist Phil Briones in November 2006 .