“Most humans think the appearance of quiet is quiet. They do not see that sometimes the enemy is as quiet as the serpent. Only when it has stolen all of their eggs will they know bad walks in the quiet as well as the noisy.”
Daughter of the Lioness, also known as "The Trickster Duology," is the fourth sub-series in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe. It follows Alianne (Aly), daughter of Sir Alanna the Lioness, as she stands on the brink of adulthood. Aly has little in common with her mother and much prefers her father's spywork, but both her parents refuse her numerous requests to become a field agent because it's such a dangerous job. After taking a trip to get away from the latest argument, Aly is captured by slavers and taken to the Copper Isles, one of Tortall's historic enemies. Turns out Kyprioth the Trickster God has selected her as one of his instruments to take back the Isles from the white luarin conquerers who subjugated and enslaved the dark-skinned raka. Kyprioth makes a wager with Aly: if she can keep the children of the disgraced Balitang family alive through the summer, he will convince her father to let her spy. This is harder than it seems when one of them is Sarai, the "twice-royal" lady who is prophesied to become Queen and reclaim the Isles, but Aly agrees to become the god's chosen and lend him her extensive skill in spying and deception.Characters can be found here.Books include:
Averted with Dunevon, who is as suited for kingship as you'd expect from your average pre-kindergarten kid.
Played straight when Dove ascends the throne as Queen. While adulthood is considered to start younger, she's still just thirteen when she takes over a country and fully understands that her youth will make it that much more difficult.
Action Mom: Alanna is still serving as the King's Champion. Her service in the Scanran war worries Aly quite a lot.
Animal Motifs: Crows are associated with tricksters, being clever, smart-alecky, and sometimes petty. They're the patron animal of Kyprioth (although crows also have their own gods) and they help Aly and the rebels in myriad ways.
Animal Talk: Not magical as with Daine. Aly learns how to emulate and interpret the sounds and body language of crows, to add them to her spy network. On the other hand, she learns this mundane language in a series of waking dreams (courtesy of her patron god) where the crows can use human speech.
Appeal To Audacity: When Aly tells Ochobu that she was temporarily paralyzed by a Goddess, Ochobu blatantly disbelieves her; to which Aly retorts that she "likes to tell lies that will be believed."
Arc Villain: Prince Bronau is the primary antagonist in Trickster's Choice, with the immediate conflict being limited to the Balitangs' lands on Lombyn. The second book expands things to encompass the country.
Bad Boss: Imajane and Rubinyan are a paramount example, being paranoid and volatile (and it's implied that Imajane is seriously insane), and prone to countering any opposition with heavy-handed violence. For example:
They order the execution of hundreds of raka from villages during rebellion (while there was a law that says that should a noble die, every nearby raka must be killed, Imajane wants to order it for anyone who does anything remotely rebellious anywhere).
They obtain power by killing the five-year-old king, the six-year-old duke who's next in line, and all their friends, none of whom was older than ten(although to be fair, they did have Kyprioth whispering in their ears for some of it). They make only a token attempt to cover up the assassination, and do it in a cruel, sloppy way that endangers other people.
The rebels' creation of the appearance of an affair results in a lot of arguing, furniture breaking, and Imajane beating the crap out of the woman framed.
Small, non-violent gatherings of people are disrupted for no reason other than they may be conspiring. In the open. In the middle of the street.
After the slave docks are torched, Duke Nomru, a powerful and influential noble, tells Imajane that the best thing to do would be to be nice to the populace. Imajane has him arrested and thrown into the city's worst prison.
They routinely kill anyone who outlives their usefulness or fails them, even if these are allies who could actually help them.
Laser-Guided Karma: Of course, oppressing the populace on this scale comes back to bite them. Aly talks happily about how easy they're making her job, and Taybur actually switches sides because they killed Dunevon. By the book's end, random civilians are assisting the rebellion just because it's preferable to having Imajane and Rubinyan on the throne.
Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Among the people with a claim to the luarin throne are Dunevon Rittevon, and the Balitang's own son Elsren, both under six years old. None of the rebels want to kill them, particularly as most of the leaders are in the Balitang household. Aly and the others try to work out various solutions. Then Aly mentions it to Kyprioth, who has no patience with what he perceives as their dithering, and whispers in the regents' ears until they arrange for the boys to be killed themselves.
Bad Habits: Some of the rebels in Trickster's Queen disguise themselves as priests of the Black God, as the vestments obscure the face.
Blood Oath: People who break one are killed by the blood boiling in their veins. Aly forces enemy spies to swear blood oaths to ensure their loyalty as double agents—it's harsh, but it's a simple and sure way to prevent betrayal, so she doesn't lose sleep over it.
Blue and Orange Morality: The crows have their own wager with Kyprioth to help him. Aly is intensely curious about what he promised them, all the more because they refuse to tell her. She's rather deflated when she learns that it's a big pile of shiny, gimcrack jewellery, which she describes as 'the ugliest thing she'd ever seen'. Because crows like shiny things.
The Caligula: King Oron in the first book. Whenever he has one of those weird dreams where someone you know is a bee and stings you, he has that person and their family brutally punished and/or executed.
Revolution must be about fixing the problems with society, not pure vengeance against your oppressors.
Be flexible and realize that your best resources might not be the most obvious ones.
Clever Crows: Crows are a significant element of these books. They're intelligent to the level of sentience and are the animal symbol of the Trickster Archetype. They assist Aly and the rebellion in numerous ways by directly fighting or spying on the regime. One of them even turns into a human to better help and court Aly—crows have Voluntary Shapeshifting in the Tortall Universe.
Continuity Nod: The names of Daine's twins in the epilogue. Meaningless if you've only read this series, unbearably moving if you've read the rest of Tortall.
"Any good swimmer knows to swim with the tide rather than against it. We attack in force at dawn."
Deadly Decadent Court: The Rittevon court as see in Trickster's Queen. Very lovely surroundings, but one wrong word can get you nailed up to the docks and your kids thrown in the piranha moat. For this reason, there are several areas that are magically protected from eavesdropping.
Determined Widow: Winnamine becomes this after Mequen's death, joining the luarin conspiracy and trying to get some backbone into them.
Divine Conflict: The reason the plot happens. The Jerk Ass Gods frequently use mortals as proxies in their power struggles; two hundred years ago the God of War and Mother Goddess defeated their brother, Kyprioth, and subjected his worshippers, the raka of the Copper Isles, to conquest and brutal oppression from other humans—part of Aly's job is to help the raka rebels defeat the conquerors, which will give Kyprioth and the lesser tricksters the clout to drive out their siblings. The battle between gods takes place in the sky while the humans duke it out in the Final Battle.
Divine Race Lift: It's a bit odd that the chief god worshipped by a medieval white society is a black man... something they can't be unaware of, considering how much the Tortallan gods like to meddle. Yet the white elites look down on the brown-skinned natives, and make racist remarks about Carthaki visitors too. Although they can't complain about their champion god being dark-skinned, it seems a little weird that he would be their champion. (Of course, it's not like a god is victimized by racism, so....)
Well, there are plenty of racist and/or anti-Semitic Christians despite the fact Jesus was a brown-skinned Jew.
The Goddess is white, though. The racism in the Isles probably started when the luarin conquered, and it was probably less a case of 'white is better than brown' than 'we invaders are better than you primitive natives', which, as the invaders settled down and became permanent occupiers, got reduced down to the simpler 'we are better than you', which translated to 'white is better than brown'.
Doorstopper: Despite only being two books, the story is the same approximate length of the three previous Tortall series. By this time, Harry Potter had exploded publishers' ideas of how long a book kids could handle.
Don't Split Us Up: The Balitangs make sure that they sell families together when they're forced to sell off most of their slaves at the beginning of the books.
Encyclopedia Exposita: Each chapter starts with a relevant bit of spying advice quoted from Aly's childhood letters from George, Numair, etcetera. Also included are Epigraphs from books she's read.
Exact Words: After Sarai abandons the rebellion, the rebel leaders and Kyprioth are in an outraged panic because it looks like the prophecy will go unfulfilled. Aly and Dove remind them that the prophecy stipulates a twice-royal (i.e. part Rittevon and Haiming, which Sarai and Dove are) queen, not "twice-royal and conventionally pretty and charming," so Dove is just as qualified to become queen.
Final Battle: The showdown for the rulership of the Copper Isles in Trickster's Queen involves basically everyone.
Foreshadowing: The fight with Bronau in the first book. Sarai tries to fight back but is instantly disarmed, despite getting badly injured, Aly manages to get Bronau into a position where he's easily killed, and Dove actually gets the job done. In the second book, Sarai expresses sympathy for the poor and downtrodden but elopes instead of trying to actually do something, despite incurring losses overall; Aly does a great job of destabilising and disarming the Rittevons, and Dove steps up and becomes queen.
In Trickster's Choice, Lokeij told Aly the kudarung came back from the Divine Realms twelve years ago, and they will willingly serve the destined queen.
Anyone else notice that even though they were trying to get her on a throne, no one in the rebel organisation thought telling Sarai about the plans being made about her was a good idea? Pretty huge sign that Sarai wasn't going to be the best choice for queen.
Friendly Enemy: Taybur Sibigat in Queen, Dunevon's personal guard. He knows exactly what game Aly is playing, but as he's only concerned with the young king's safety, it remains a game. After Imajane and Rubinyan have Dunevon killed, Taybur offers Aly any assistance he can provide, and she even considers him as a replacement for her own job after the rebellion succeeds.
Friend to All Children: Stormwings retain this trait. They gather in the Copper Isles in anticipation of the upcoming revolution, but while feeding off the fear in a riot, they dive in to save children from being trampled.
Generation Xerox: Subverted with Aly, whose differences from Alanna are a cause of tension between the two. She does, however, take after her father George.
Good Is Not Nice: A few of the luarin who join the conspiracy still hold racist and sexist beliefs, though Nomru at least is quick to say he hopes to shed them.
Icon of Rebellion: The raka, when the resistance gets going, make theirs a crude broken manacle: three small circles as a chain attached to a larger broken circle. This tiny sign of the underground rebellion could be seen anywhere—vegetable stands, scratched into the corners of glass windows.
Idiot Ball: Aly loves to occasionally juggle this one around, normally when she's trying to talk her way out of trouble - with Chenaol and her knife in the first book when she fails to actually say anything of use (although to be fair, Kyprioth appeared before she had a chance) and Kyprioth in the second, when the first thing she says is that his choice was a stupid one in what was probably an attempt to show Kyprioth the logic behind what had happened and how to proceed, but was precisely the wrong thing to do. (Seriously, all she had to say was 'The Graveyard Hag was there and she helped Sarai and Zaimid escape' and everything would have been fine.)
The rebels themselves actually hold it for a while. Sarai is good with people, but she's not nearly as smart or worldly as Dove, and she's hot-headed and impulsive- hardly the best choices for a queen. They got so caught up in Sarai's beauty and her people skills that they didn't realise that Sarai was really not a good choice for queenship, and at one point they even lampshaded it themselves when saying that Sarai couldn't be trusted to keep the rebellion secret, even though it was revolving around her future. One has to wonder exactly what would have happened had the original plan worked, given that as Aly pointed out, Sarai as queen would have been a disaster waiting to happen. About the only way it could have worked would be if she was a puppet queen, but she never would have gone for that, and then hello Haiming Rebellions and centuries of civil war again.
Infant Immortality: Averted again. Elsren and Dunevon, along with a number of other young boys, are killed to remove them from the line of succession.
Jerk Ass Gods: Mithros and the Goddess favor the luarin and have no apparent problem with their brutal oppression of the native people, since it let them get back at their brother Kyprioth. As for Kyprioth himself, he pushed the Rittevons into the assassination mentioned in Infant Immortality. Aly realizes that they really don't comprehend the fact that human's lives are really important to themselves and each other.
La Résistance: The plot of this duolgy revolves around the raka underground in their attempt to take back the Copper Isles from the white luarin conquerors.
Make an Example of Them: A literal case- in Rajmuat, the capital, nobles and high officials who are executed are displayed on posts as 'Examples', warnings to others. Part of Aly's strategy in destabilising the government is sinking the bodies, because those in charge think it can't be done, thus making everyone freak out when it is done.
The Man Behind the Curtain: Topabaw, the spymaster for the government. When Aly meets him, she instantly spots half a dozen weaknesses, which stem from the fact that he's been in power for years, his reputation is that of a man who creates immense fear, and it's fed his ego so much that he believes he can do anything. She immediately exploits them all and takes him down quite quickly.
Mighty Whitey: The books have faced accusations of advocating this, particularly since Pierce is renowned for her typically positive messages for kids. Especially bad when Aly puts on blackface, and has no comprehension of why the locals might be angry about this.
Moving the Goalposts: Defied by Aly warning Kyprioth that as a god, he has to abide by the terms he originally set. Then Double Subverted at the end of Trickster's Choice, when she had become too attached to the Balitang family to leave them until she had seen it through to the end, which Kyprioth revealed was a Batman Gambit on his part.
Nature Is Not Nice: Nawat and his band exploit this by stripping some enemies naked and leaving them in the jungle.
Open Secret: Sarai and Dove as the candidates to fulfill Kyprioth's prophecy, at least among the raka.
Pals with Jesus: Kyprioth is a much more genial god than his brother and sister... that said, he makes it quite clear that he can be as wrathful as them.
Pet the Dog: Random Copper Isles Stormwings, who go out of their way to rescue children in danger of being trampled in a riot.
Also a Continuity Nod to the Immortals quartet, where a Stormwing explains that they look out for human children because childbearing is very hard for them.
The Prophecy: There is a very specific one about the raka taking back their homeland from the luarin. The god who spoke it is working very hard to make sure it all comes true, as his siblings have a vested interest in preventing it from coming to pass.
Dunevon. But he's four, so it's not to be wondered at. It's still not puppet enough for his aunt and uncle.
Utterly defied by Dove, who's wise to the fact that the rebels were starting to think Sarai would be this before Sarai ran off. Dove makes it clear that if the rebellion puts her on the throne, she will be calling the shots.
Purple Prose: Used 100% deliberately with Bronau's courting of Sarai. Aly can barely keep from laughing.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The rebels undertake all kinds of Dirty Business to overturn the Rittevons and oppressive luarin nobility. Aly and the other rebel leaders also expend a significant amount of effort to prevent the raka from turning the revolution into a revenge-fueled bloodbath.
Rightful King Returns: This is basically the plot, although it's definitely not played straight, what with it being part of a divine powergame that involves a lot of spycraft on the mortal end. And the one they assume is the "rightful queen" runs away, leaving the younger but more qualified sister to take her place.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Balitangs, especially on Lombau (noble rather than royal, although they're cousins to the Rittevons). Mequen, Winnamine, Sarai, and Dove all pitch in with the chores around the estate.
Royally Screwed Up: The Rittevons and other members of the luarin nobility, as hinted at in Song of the Lioness. They have a tendency to murder each other a lot.
Series Continuity Error: The prologue for Queen features a particularly bad one, claiming that the first book ended with Sarai beheading Bronau rather than Dove shooting him with an arrow, which is not only blatantly inaccurate but ruins the elegant Foreshadowing of the scene. This was fixed in later editions.
Silk Hiding Steel: Sarai, the most popular belle in the Copper Isles. One time she talked down a poorly planned noble revolt while making it seem like she was only interested in a date for the Summersend ball. Also she's no slouch with a sword.
All of the Balitang ladies, really. Winnamine after the assassination attempt not only agrees to let the girls resume weapons training, she also joins them. She becomes adept enough to fight off a man at arms with only a candelabra. Dove is very good with a bow and is the one who manages to kill Bronau during his attack.
Slave Collar: The collars will choke slaves who stray too far from their masters. The Balitangs remove the spell on Aly's collar in Trickster's Choice because she is the chosen of a god. Just not the god they think.
Spy Fiction: Of the "Dirty Martini" variety. It's set in a tropical paradise and Aly has the right personality to be a Bond-esque spy (at least at the start), but there's plenty of crawling through disgusting harbor water, detail work, and human ugliness (which she exploits).
Teen Superspy: Aly's the very successful spymaster of an entire rebellion. And later, government.
Justified, as she was trained by her father, who is also a very successful spymaster. Also subverted, as being the rebellion's spymaster is her main job, she has no funky gadgets, and she acts much more like a real spy would than other Teen Superspies do.
Would Hurt a Child: The Rittevons have the children of rebels thrown into a moat full of piranhas.
Worthy Opponent: Dunevon's personal guard, Taybur, is both decent and well-versed in matters of espionage, which Aly finds both enjoyable and worrisome. For his part, he's quite happy to find someone else in the palace who's as smart as he is.