Reason #4 I wish I had read Tamora Pierce as a child

Recognition that a woman doesn’t need to be ‘like a man’ to be strong, and 'feminine’ qualities don’t indicate weakness.

When I finished The Song of the Lioness for the first time and moved on to the Immortals Quartet, I was confused.  Why…why isn’t Daine stabbing anyone and learning combat? 

But I realized, a little further in, that I had missed a couple crucial points.  First, Alanna realizes she does not have to choose between being a warrior and being a woman.  Although it does happen that her skills and strengths lie within what the people of Tortall (and our society) would define as a masculine domain, that doesn’t mean she wants to be 'masculine’. 

Neither Alanna nor Kel feel that their sex or gender is anything to be ashamed of.  Alanna only hides her sex out of necessity, and can we talk about Kel wearing a dress to dinner every night of page training?

Second, Daine is amazingly powerful, and the fact that her power doesn’t lie in a traditionally 'male’ area doesn’t lessen it any way.  She doesn’t need to be swinging a sword, succeeding in a male dominated field, to be strong, resilient, and amazing (see also: Sansa Stark).

Beka nerds out over maps, and Kel is good at math, and neither of those things make them 'masculine’.  This is because these qualities do not exist in relation to or despite their sex or gender.

It’s also not necessary that a woman be an obvious powerhouse sort of person in order to deserve to be taken seriously.  Varice likes pretty clothes, makeup, baking, and party planning.  That doesn’t mean she has any less worth as a person than the main heroines of Tortall.  And as Daine says to her, “You needn’t explain yourself to me."  If Varice wants to use her Gift to make bitchin’ cakes, that’s her goddamn business, and she doesn’t need to defend that choice to anyone.  And who doesn’t like cake? Probably Ozorne 'cause he’s the worst.  Don’t be Ozorne.

And I point this out as someone who was smug and disdainful about Varice until, well, about that scene.

It’s just Tamora Pierce, helping me realize I still have things to learn and it’s important to keep an eye out for one’s own biases.

It’s just Tamora Pierce, reminding us that the idea that one’s strength, talents, or abilities are limited or defined by one’s sex or gender expression in any way is, well, a silly social construct. 

Sarra looked at her daughter and said reproachfully, “Speaking of war, I never raised you to be always fighting and killing. That’s not woman’s work.”

“It’s needful, Ma. You taught me a woman has to know how to defend herself.”

“I never!” gasped Sarra, indignant.

“You taught me when you were murdered in your own house,” Daine said quietly.

—  The Realm of the Gods, Tamora Pierce

I just imagine how Jon and Thayet’s intelligence briefings must have gone during the Immortals series.

“The girl you met last week just called a Kraken up from the depths to attack enemy ships. Oh, and she has a dragon now.”

“So the wildmage and Salmalin went to visit a local noble, and they think some wolves have uncovered a plot to usurp the throne. And, uh, I’m not sure how to say this, sire, but she can apparently turn into animals???”

“You know how much you hate Stormwings? And Emperor Ozorne? Well, funny thing about that, Your Majesties….”

(Basically, Daine is amazing)

A girl in a green wool dress, skirts short enough to show leggings and boots. Brown curls tamed by a head-scarf fell to thin shoulders. A soft, full mouth said she was vulnerable; her chin was entirely stubborn. A quiver filled with long arrows hung on her back, a bow rested in her hand, unstrung. I started rereading #wildmagic by #tamorapierce from #theimmortals quartet for #inktober day 15 :) I’m so excited and a little sad (Alanna ;__;) to read this series again!

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“Someday I must read this scholar Everyone. He seems to have written so much - all of it wrong.”

- Wildmage Veralidaine Sarrasri, The Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce.

Of all the ladies depicted, Daine is the only one who seemed to really dislike skirts, so I let her stay in breeches. Her outfit is referenced against Marliee Heye’s artwork for The Emperor Mage , although actually Daine is younger than that here - about 14, just settling into her new sense of herself as a mage, and her new life at court.

My Tortallverse Women main post is here.