Provost's Dog is told in first person from the point of view of Beka Cooper, George Cooper's ancestor 200 years before Alanna's time, and her time in the proto-police force known as the Dogs on the streets of Corus.
Tortall and Other Lands is a collection of short stories written over the years, which was published in 2012. It includes seven stories, four of which take place in Tortall.
Acceptable Feminine Goals and Traits: Most of the feminine goals and traits can be observed thought each of the series, though not all by the same person. Mostly this is done to prove that woman do not have to give up their feminine personalities to do great things.
Action Girl: Really, almost any protagonist and many of the side female characters could count. Alanna trained as a knight since she was ten, is an expert swordswoman, and can handle herself with a manner of other weapons and even unarmed. Daine is an excellent rider and archer, though her ability to transform into any animal understandably gives her a leg up in a fight. Kel, like Alanna, is a trained knight (with a particularly notable skill at the lance), and can wield a heavy glaive with ease. While Aly prefers to use stealth to fighting, she is more than capable of handling herself. Beka, meanwhile, was a cop and excelled at using the baton or her fists.
Its noted that Shang Warriors, elite fighters trained from childhood to be experts in almost every weapon but especially in hand-to-hand combat, are composed of both men and women. Women Shang apparently don't like flashy titles, preferring to keep it practical, but the legendary Shang Unicorn was apparently "all steel".
Aerith and Bob: Among others, we have Alanna, Jonathan, Gary and Raoul alongside Veralidaine, Numair (or Arram) and Keladry. Pierce also has distinct countries and regions with their own naming traditions, and people from the same country generally follow the same naming style; for example, quite a lot of the Tortallan names sound close to English, while Gallan names have a -sra (or -sri, in Daine's case), and obviously, Yamani names are like Japanese names. She actually subverts this trope, or at least doesn't flaunt it like many other authors.
Among Tortallans, most of the "Bob" names (George, Frances, Roger, along with those already named) were introduced in the first quartet. Tortallans from later books tend to have "Aerith" names (Keladry, Merric, Wyldon, Alianne) or Aerith-names that abreviate to Bob ones (Nealan)- although there are some exceptions (Owen). In fact, many of the 'Aerith' names are variations on real-world names from Europe, England especially. 'Wyldon' is a variant of 'Weldon', for example, and Keladry could be seen as a variant of Kelly.
Ascended Extra: Kylaia al Jmaa, who was first mentioned offhand by Liam in Lioness Rampant as the Shang Unicorn and later became the protagonist of Student Of Ostriches, a short story. You'd be forgiven for thinking she was a new character.
Author Appeal: Animals. Every protagonist has at least one animal companion, more than that if you count the knights' horses, and they all get their own personality.
Badass: Alanna, Aly, Kel, Daine, Numair... the list goes on.
Coming-of-Age Story: Each of the series follows its protagonist as she finds or creates her place in the world. Although Aly and Beka are at the age of adulthood in Tortall already (sixteen), their stories still have them go from youthful inexperience to maturity and confidence.
In the Song of the Lioness quartet, George says that the Gift acts as a shield against those with the Sight. Three miniseries later, Alianne has the Sight so strongly she can see a great many things about people with the Gift.
George notes that his sight isn't very strong, though he can still notice when she's around. This may also be because she was a chosen of the Mother Goddess, or that her Gift specifically protects her, like how some people can't scry, but can throw fire and lightning.
It could also be the Gift in Alanna's genes augmenting the Sight in George's passed down to Aly - she notes that the strength of her Sight is due to her mother's Gift, so it could just be another effect of that mix.
Continuity Nod: Every single new series is packed with references to the previous series, mostly through the reappearance of old characters. In First Test, one specific Crowning Moment of Awesome concerning Numair from 'The Immortals Quartet' is mentioned. One of the best things about this series is that characters age and change between books and series, and it's always good seeing what the heroes from previous books are up to. Provost's Dogs, while a prequel trilogy, has a great number of relatively subtler calls to books written earlier. Well, and the Cat.
Fire-flower vines contain a poison that will kill you if you don't maintain contact with it.
Dead Guy Junior: Multiple characters end up naming their children after deceased characters, not just limited to the royals. Among the more notable examples are Alanna's children Thom, Alianne and Alan, the latter two named after both her father and the name Alanna she went by during her Masquerade.
Also Rikash and Sarralyn, Daine's children named after the Stormwing she befriended and her late mother.
Most, if not all, of Jonathan's and Thayet's children are named after dead guys. Roald and Jasson after Jonathan's father and grandfather, Liam after the Shang, Kalasin and Lianne after Thayet and Jonathan's mothers.
Word of God also says that Aly and Nawat had triplets after the Trickster books ended. Apparently dead-guy-junioring isn't done in raka tradition, so instead of Ochobu, Ulasim and Junai, they named the kids... Ochobai, Ulasu and Junim. God changed its mind with the short story "Nawat".
All of the above are truly and spectacularly outdone by Coram and Rispah, who name their children: Jonthair, Alinna, Thomsen, Mylec, Daran, Liam, and Thayine.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: The approximate age of adulthood in Tortall and its neighbors is sixteen, which includes marriage and having kids, as well as going to war, killing, and dying. Slavery is openly practiced in the Immortals, Trickster and Dog books, and Word of God says that neither Carthak nor the Copper Isles intends to abolish it even after gaining Reasonable Authority Figures as monarchs. Punishments are harsh and include forced labor, maiming, and boiling in oil, just in case you thought medieval times were fun and romantic. (Fortunately, they do not follow medieval medical practice. Magic takes care of that.)
Does Not Like Magic: There's at least one character in each series who has a strong aversion to magic, whether it's a fear of it or the idea that it's somehow "cheating."
Dogged Nice Guy: Several of the male love interests. Although not all of the relationships work long-term, this tactic is shown as a perfectly reasonable way to start one with the heroine.
Eternal Sexual Freedom: Played with. In a fictional universe based around medieval, European culture, there is no problem with a 12-year-old girl (Alanna) that has just had her first period being given birth control by an older woman so she can have sex without fear of pregnancy. The nobility, at least, pays lip service to "men can do what they want, women should be virgins until marriage". On the other hand, we see several noblewomen, good and bad alike, taking lovers in a more modern "dating" fashion. Kel's books say that commoners don't hold with all this nonsense and sleep with whomever they like... but the endless, endless negative terminology thrown at Kel suggests that the commoners don't approve of women sleeping around either! In the end it seems most like modern life, double standards and conflicting messages and all.
In Bloodhound, set several centuries before the series proper, we begin to learn of the rise of the worship of The Gentle Mother aspect of The Goddess which supports demure, virginal, separated, and stereotypical female medieval ideas and aspects. Predictably our heroine thinks its nothing but idiocy, but considering its supported by nobles there's not much she can do about it!
Tortall itself has, geographically, much in common with Spain, although its names and culture look a lot like England/France. Its immediate neighbors—Galla, Tusaine—are similar. Like France, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula, these countries have a shared history as part of an ancient collapsed empire.
The Bazhir are Bedouins.
The Roof of the World and its people are modeled after the Himalayan cultures (Tibet, Nepal, etcetera). Sarain is roughly equivalent to Mongolia.
Carthak is an African empire; the part that Daine and Numair visit is akin to North Africa.
The Yamani Islands are Japan right down to the language. Ancient China is implied to be on the other side of the sea and so far haven't been seen.
Scanra is Scandanavia; it has berserkers, blond and blue-eyed people, and "wolfships" that aren't hard to imagine as Viking longships.
The Copper Isles are a mix. They're fairly analogous to India and Southeast Asia, right down to the types of dress and foods but one could also make the for Hawaii with its history, theology, and customs. Sarain is roughly equivalent to Mongolia.
Fantasy Contraception: Anti-pregnancy charms are widely available for purchase, some better quality than others. Every protagonist either buys one or is mentioned as owning one at some point in the story.
Fantasy World Map: At the beginning of each book, although the last Lioness book's map doesn't show a large part of the world Alanna traveled through.
Fantasy Pantheon: Covered in the Song of the Lioness quartet; half the point of The Immortals.
Feminist Fantasy: Pierce wanted there to be more badass female fantasy protagonists, so she sat down and wrote about some.
First Name Basis: Many, many characters, including the royal family. However, most main characters are nobility who don't differ significantly in rank, and Tortallan nobles go by fief rather than an actual last name like commoners do (e.g. Alanna of Trebond).
Inherent Gift: While there are many different sub-sets of magic, all of them require you be born with the talent for them. The most common form of magic is literally called the Gift.
Rule Magic: The Gift has elements of this. There are certain boundaries that cannot be crossed, overuse of magic results in physical exhaustion, etc. That said, the Gift seems to be quite malleable in its uses.
Device Magic: Plenty of magical artifacts are present in the series—some are made from the Gift, some came from the Gods, others have unknown but ancient origins. Example would be the "Dominion Jewel" which gives a king/ruler great power over the land, but also things like magic locks which can be used by anyone.
Necromancy: Possible through the Gift. The gods do not like it.
Transmutation: Possible through the Gift and other, rarer types of magic.
Equivalent Exchange: To an extent, all magic—if you put more energy into a spell than you have, you'll die. Very high levels of the Gift also show this. (For example, if you turn a man into a tree, somewhere else a tree will turn into a man.)
Nature Magic: What's called "Wild Magic". At most basic it gives close bond with animals, then the ability to communicate with them, then 'ride in their mind', and finally, transform into them. It also has elements of Rule Magic despite the name, as there are certain boundaries (shapeshifting into an immortal is permanent, you can use Animal Talk but there is a distance limit), but there are also things about it that are beyond the user's control. Daine, for instance, can inadvertently affect animals with strong emotion and spending too much time around them results in Amplified Animal Aptitude because she's unusually powerful.
White Magic: Comes with the Gift.
Black Magic: Also possible via Gift.
There's also a final form of magic that doesn't quite fit any of the categories: the Sight. Seems to be quite weak and limited, but allows a person to sense lies and deceptions, and stronger abilities might allow you to see far away. Aly has her father's gift of Sight, but the strength of her mother's magical Gift, which is very strong indeed. As a perk, it comes with superhuman vision that Aly can adjust at will.
God Was My Copilot: Faithful/Pounce in both the Lioness books and Beka Cooper novels. He was affirmed as a god at the end of The Realm of the Gods, the last Immortals book. It distinctly points out that Daine met a black cat with purple eyes. He was annoying the Goddess. It could also be interpreted, using information from Terrier, that Faithful and Pounce are one and the same constellation. That last interpretation was confirmed in Trickster's Choice by Aly, who mentions in passing to someone else that "the star-Cat became a real cat, and taught [her mother] things as she grew up." Incidentally, Pierce said in an interview that the character took the "copilot" role because he was bored. Typical cat.
Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Tortall's currency is based on this. All three metals are divided into "nobles" (big coins) and "bits" (smaller ones).
Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Very consciously averted. Word of God is that the reason almost none of her heroines are blonde is precisely because of this trope. In Song of the Lioness, the blonde princess, Josiane, is evil. However, in the new Provost's Dog series, the heroine Beka Cooper's hair is described as dark blonde, and Aly's hair is strawberry blonde (red gold), too.
Hero of Another Story: Alanna, Daine, and Keladry become this after the completion of their books. It's made clear that they are still active and doing very important things for Tortall, but since Pierce likes to write Coming Of Age Stories, she moves onto new characters once the protagonists have sorted themselves out and moved onto adult life.
Kel runs into enemy territory in the middle of a war to rescue the refugees who have been abducted from her camp. Admittedly, she's been explicitly told, by what amounts to a god, that it's her fate to face off with the perpetrator, which is a pretty good sign that she'll win. If she doesn't go save them, the number of nigh-unstoppable killing machines assaulting the border will quintuple, because they're powered by the souls of murdered children- given that they're already losing the war...Just to top it off, when Kel finally gets where she needs to be, she is told that the odds of success are fifty-fifty. Since the speaker in question is a seer who can function as a medium when the gods want to talk to Kel...
Mithros and the Threefold Goddess/Great Mother Goddess/Goddess, as well as some less prominent members of the pantheon. They have no problem using even young children as disposable pawns in their power struggles and seem genuinely unable to comprehend how important human problems are to humans... so at one point, the Mother Goddess is supporting a house that throws the children of rebels into a piranha-filled moat, because the rebels are favored by her rival brother.
"Uh oh," whispered Trick, "Gods not good. Gods sly."
Inverted with the Black God who is described in several of the books as the kindest and most merciful god and forgives even the worst transgressors.
Knight in Shining Armor: Alanna, Kel and Sabine are female examples. Seen best when Alanna and her apprentices have to defend the Bloody Hawk tribe from being attacked.
Legendary in the Sequel: Alanna's exploits become famous throughout the Eastern lands even before her quartet is over, and she is a direct inspiration to Keladry. Daine, too, becomes quite famous.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Every book from Squire onward has had a cast list in the back—as the pagecount has gone up, so has the number of people each protagonist encounters in their story. Characters from previous series are frequently seen alongside of new faces.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: So many examples, but especially: Numair (whom you of all people should know he's been involved with the women at court), Jon, and Rosto. Justified, because everyone is cheerfully having sex (see Eternal Sexual Freedom), or so career-focused that they can't — and that's considered weird. Numair, Jon, and Rosto are 'playboys,' but few of the major characters are chaste or virginal after the age of sixteen. Kel is the exception, but she really just doesn't have the time and still feels such attraction to other squires.
May-December Romance: Pierce likes large age gaps. Alanna, Daine, and Kel are all more than five years younger than their main love interests. Pierce has admitted openly that this is Author Appeal.
Mind Rape: The Chamber of the Ordeal, which must be faced by all would-be knights (and, as shown in Lioness Rampant, the heir to the Tortallan throne in order to become King), is a big box of this. It will show you your worst fears in an attempt to break you emotionally. People have walked out of it without their sanity. People have failed to walk out of it at all.
Narrative Profanity Filter: Phrases like "Alanna swore colorfully" are used until the Provost's Dog books, where the actual curses are printed.
Nice to the Waiter: Everyone good is Nice To The Waiter, everyone bad is not. We keep being told by the huge cast of nobles who care about commoners that it's atypical in Tortall for nobles to care about commoners. The only main cast member to do this is Kel's friend Merric, who, while certainly not cruel or miserly, tells her and Neal at one point that they're too concerned and generous. This is corrected in Beka's books, however, since she has to deal with loads of annoying nobles (and even upper middle-class commoners) who are offended at being questioned by a member of the unwashed masses.
Nobody Poops: Completely averted through small mentions of characters going to the bathroom in the middle or end of a scene, and latrines. In Lady Knight Kel volunteers to clean the lantrine in 'lead by example' humility. It's taken Up to Eleven in Mastiff. Beka describes often and at great length the many times her scent hound Achoo finds a spot where their quarry relieved himself on the road. And then of course we had Saucebox demonstrating his opinion of Pounce's high opinion of himself.
No Periods, Period: Completely averted by frank discussions of feminine issues and magical birth control.
Oh My Gods!: "Goddess" most commonly replaces "God," though some characters swear by multiple gods; Numair says "Mithros, Mynoss and Shakith!" quite a bit.
One Steve Limit: Averted for royal dynastic names; one royal Big Bad is named Roger, but there was a better Roger in the trilogy set two centuries earlier, as well as dutiful Baird of Queenscove and roustabout Baird of Conte. Fully in force within each series, however, where there is only one living person of each name at a time. (Pierce justified this in one fan conversation by saying that Tortallans think it's bad luck to name a kid after a living relative.)
Redshirt Army: it is mentioned that the Tortallan army uniforms are maroon. In the war with Scanra, there are huge numbers of corpses in uniform.
Relationship Ceiling: Inverted with Daine and Numair, who seem to be more, if not just as, in love with each other after ten years of being lovers, than they were at the beginning of their relationship. Word of God claims that they would never tire of each other, although they didn't know that, which is why they wouldn't 'trap each other in a marriage' initially.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Tortall Universe follows the feudal system to a T. The serfs would work on the land owned by their lords, and the lords would train to be warriors (aka, knights), who would defend the kingdom against invaders; Kings were expected to be strong warriors to defend their holdings and inspire the men around them.
Shown Their Work: One of the major virtues separating the books (particularly from The Immortals onwards) from the swathes of other feudal-set sword-and-sorcery series is Pierce's attention to detail. Daine may be able to communicate with, transform into, and heal animals through magic, but Pierce's descriptions of the animals, their behaviour and biology is all thoroughly well-researched. The cultures of the fantasy lands outside Tortall also demonstrate the kind of authentic detail only possible through conscientious research into their real-world counterparts.
Silk Hiding Steel: There are many examples of highborn women who are not to be trifled with. Tortall's queen is one, as is Kel's mother, who earned a lot of prominence for her family and an alliance with the Yamani people by defending sacred artifacts from pirates during a raid.
The heroines are usually this to the Big Bad of their series, but special mention goes to Alanna and how she brings down her enemy's plots, twice. It helps when The Hero possesses powerful magic of her own and has the (inadvertent) assistance of the Eldritch Abomination in the Chamber of the Ordeal, not to mention help from the gods.
The Chamber of the Ordeal has been known to make itself into a spanner whenever something threatens the natural order and pushes both Alanna and Kel in the right direction.
Stock Aesops: There are many aesops to be found but the most prevalent one is: Women are just as good as men.
Straw Misogynist: Joren. On the one hand, he's really over the top with his hatred of Kel and it's his chief feature. On the other hand, there are plenty of men in Real Life who share his toxic opinions about women and poor people, and if you're a woman trying to do something they deem unfeminine, that's all you're going to see.
True Sight: The Sight can detect illusions and some other kinds of information. Griffin feathers held over the eyes have a similar effect.
There's a marked contrast in the first three-and-a-half Protector books, where the main enemy Keladry is dealing with is the sexist attitude of society, a malicious fellow classmate, and training difficulties. It's not until Squire where the usual realm-threatening opponent comes in.
Daughter of the Lioness inverts it; the villains are maintaining their status quo until Aly comes in and helps turn the simmering rebellion up to a boil.
War Is Hell: All but the Provost's Dog books involve warfare at some point, and it's always shown as being thoroughly unglamorous, brutal, and nasty. The prospect of death and being forced to kill are not treated lightly, and the addition of Stormwings (creatures who desecrate the dead to punish humans for waging war) just makes it worse.
Wife-Basher Basher: This is strongly implied to be one duty of warrior women of the Goddess' temple, along with sheltering female abuse victims.
World Building: Each subseries adds considerably more detail to the world of Tortall, both in Tortall itself and its neighbors. Some elements (like the Ysandir and "The Old Ones") are discarded, but others like the Copper Isles are fleshed out considerably.