These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Tortal L Universe
Anti-Climax Boss: The fight with Claw, the would-be leader of the Court of the Rogue, and the revelation of his identity, is played this way. It might have been more dramatic if Alanna had been involved, but she was rather busy with the Big Bad at the time.
Blayce the Gallan turns out to be a weak, pathetic man who is easily dispatched, which Kel even views as this in-universe. Though just beforehand, she does get to have a suitably epic battle against his Dragon Stenmun.
Author's Saving Throw: The creepy romance between Bronau and Sarai in Trickster's Choice definitely feels like an acknowledgement of the issues people had with the series' previous major romances.
Complete Monster: Most of the villains in this series have the potential for this, but the following fiends are especially despicable:
Roger, post-resurrection, with Word of God explaining that while he'd never been a nice guy, 8 months buried alive drove him "apocalyptically crazy."
Even before then, he was a selfish bastard who tried to kill his uncle, aunt and nephew for power and treated everyone as a disposable pawn. Pierce even stated that the reason he's so bad is due to his inability to confront the evil of his actions.
Blayce the Gallan from Protector Of The Small is even worse, given that he's using the souls of children to power his machines. When he tries to defend himself by stating that he didn't choose to be a natural necromancer, Keladry calls him out on his bullshit, knowing that he enjoys the act. The inhabitants of the village nearby had their own children stolen away, were punished for trying to rescue them (by being flayed and left tied to a wall until they died), and even give a description of Blayce's actions that invokes borderline paedophilia (in the sense of preying on the most small, the most innocent of people). Given this 0% Approval Rating he (and by extension, the greedy King Maggur) has, he's easily one of the Tortall series' most depraved villains.
The men under Blayce aren't much better, either. Though they aren't as perverse as him, they are still willing to use their own people (Blayce is a foreigner) as tools, don't care so long as they get payed, and Stenmun justifies himself by arguing that children of commoners get picked off anyway and that Blayce treats them "well"... before abusing their souls in death (oh, and they get paid well for their service). Kel is disgusted on all counts, to the point of leaving Blayce, Stenmun and the men serving them to the Stormwings, because in her mind, they deserve to have their bodies ravaged after death.
Vinson becomes this by Squire, having secretly raped several women without remorse (this after attacking Lalasa previously. If there's any doubt, consider how the Chamber of the Ordeal torments him from that point on, driving him to a Villainous Breakdown and confession which leads to his immediate arrest.
Pearl Skinner from 'Bloodhound' certainly has this air. Beka is put off to find that she's kind to dogs, because it makes it harder to think of her this way.
The villains of Mastiff use magic to horrifically slaughter an estate of people, kidnap a little kid, drown a boat full of kidnapped slaves and their owners—using magic to ensure that there was no escape—, strangle a young slave girl because she spoke to one of the investigators sent after them, try to launch a full blown Coup d'état with the good King's Brother acting as their figurehead leader, and all because the King wanted to tax the nation's magicians in order to ease the pressures placed on the lower class.
Imajane and Rubinyan from the Trickster duet. They had the nerve to pretend to sympathise with Winnamine over her fears of something bad happening to her son, after they ordered the storm that killed him.
Continuity Lock-Out: Averted, when outside of each series itself. Obviously you can't read any quartet from book 3, but each series can stand alone easily.
Designated Protagonist Syndrome: Aly is sometimes accused of being superfluous to the story of the Trickster books, with Dove making more sense as the protagonist. Which gets into quite the Unfortunate Implications when you factor in that she's a white character taking the hero spot from a dark-skinned character.
Draco in Leather Pants: Despite being an uncompromisingly misogynistic asshole who even threatens that he'll try to kill Keladry once they're both knights, Joren has a lot of fans. Even fans who ship him and Kel. (For bonus points, his physical description is actually similar to Draco's: delicate good looks and white-blond hair.)
It's probably helped by Lioness having featured a very '80s case of Stalking Is Love.
Evil Is Sexy: Duke Roger, full-stop. Delia of Eldorne tries to be this but usually fails thanks to her bitchiness and petulance.
Fanon Discontinuity: Mastiff. The whole Corus crew disappearing? Tunstall going traitor? Beka not ending up with Rosto? It never happened!
Fan Dumb: The contingent of fans who describe Alanna as a slut. Having three sincerely-felt, monogamous relationships at distinctly different times, without cheating, does not make someone a slut.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Averted with Alanna's childhood friend George Cooper, who Pierce decided was better for Alanna after she sunk the ship of Alanna/Jonathan in The Woman Who Rides Like A Man.
Played straight with Beka and Rosto, as she ends up marrying Farmer, who didn't appear in the first two books.
Fridge Brilliance: Why didn't Duke Roger's image magic work as well on Alanna as it did on everyone else (even before her Ordeal)? Because it was made in the image of Alan the boy, not the girl that Alanna actually was. Also helps to make Alanna's inexplicable, Gut Feeling suspicion of him early on more plausible.
Extra dose of Fridge Brilliance, since this probably also explains why he flipped out when her true gender was revealed in their duel. He realized that was why she had always suspected him/been semi-immune to his magic and it pissed him off.
Duke Roger. While plotting to regain the throne, he managed to portray himself as the Cool Uncle while making several creditable attempts to kill off Jon (and then "Alan") and used a fairly simple but highly effective magic construct to keep anyone from suspecting.
Aly spends much of the series lying to everyone about everything. Still a good guy, though.
Ozorne. In Emperor Mage he tells Daine, cool as you please, that he plans to have her teacher executed while she's succumbing to the drug he slipped into her drink so he can abduct her and use her disappearance to set off a war. And after she'd been nice enough to take care of his birds! He even turns his forced Stormwing transformation into an advantage.
Joren is another. And in Lady Knight, Kel is disappointed when Blayce turns out not to be this, but rather a scrawny, inept, vulgar little man.
Mary Sue: Can be and has been argued for Alanna, Daine, and Aly, with their exceptional talents, strong magical capabilities, closeness with gods, and the many men who love them. However, proving that Tropes Are Not Bad, it's mostly justified in the name of plot and character development and there are notable subversions, such as Alanna's moderate-not-stunning looks and infamous temper and Daine's absolute refusal to be a Purity Sue. And Kel averts it every which way.
Interestingly, Alanna alludes to the idea in-universe when explains why Kel is a more valuable role model to the girls of Tortall: Alanna, being god-touched and powerfully Gifted, is seen as a "once-in-a-century" hero whose achievements couldn't possibly be matched by an ordinary person. Kel, as a Badass Normal, is much more accessible to girls who want to be knights.
Ironically, Alanna's most prominent trait isn't actually any of her ostensibly Mary Sue traits, but her stubbornness. She's a Determinator.
Moral Event Horizon: Imajane and Rubinyan have Dunevon and Elsren assassinated. Granted, Kyprioth gave them the idea, but they went through with it all on their own.
Narm: It can be pretty hard to take Blayce seriously when you find out Pierce based his appearance on Woody Allen.
Aly's capture in the first chapter of Trickster's Choice is portrayed in such a detached, rushed fashion that it's more likely to jar a laugh out of you than shock.
Aly suggesting the Ballitaines deal with a group of robbers by sneaking up behind them, which everyone reacts to like it's an utterly brilliant idea no one else could have possibly thought of.
The Provost Dogs take their name a bit too far, coming up with a dog-related term for almost everything they do.
Never Live It Down: The major romance of The Immortals between Daine and Numair. Who hook up when they're 16 and 30 respectively. Plus Numair had been Daine's teacher not long before. Song of the Lioness was able to get away with a similar age gap marriage both because it didn't become official until both were adults, plus people weren't on the lookout for this sort of thing as much in the '80s. By the time Daine and Numair got together it was 1996, and times had changed enough for many people to have a problem with it. He also steals a lock of her hair after Emperor Mage to use as a focus, which even people who support the pairing tend to find creepy.
Aly putting on brownface and beating up some raka who object to it. And she never seems to realize why it was wrong.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Alanna's relationships with Jon, George, and Liam. Thanks to the short length of her books, there's not a lot of reader time between them, and some fans just get fed up with having to run over another romantic speedbump when they'd rather read about the actual main plot and exciting adventures. (The Values Dissonance mentioned below doesn't help.)
In Bloodhound, Beka has a lot of UST and romantic bickering with Dale Rowan, which some people find far less interesting than the exciting undercover investigation she's taking part in.
Squick: Aly and Nawat, for some people. Daine and Numair, for others. 14 year age gap and relative social status is often quoted as the reason.
Strangled by the Red String: Beka and Farmer are a Type 3, and possibly a Type 2 as well, depending on one's interpretation. About 400 pages of no romantic hints... and then suddenly she notices what broad shoulders he has. And then they're declaring their love for each other and promising marriage while they're in a jail cell, after being tortured, and at a time when Beka still doesn't know for sure who the group traitor is.
They Wasted A Perfectly Good Character: Onua in "The Immortals." In book one she's a major character and becomes one of Daine's best friends, and has an interesting backstory of being left to die by her abusive husband. Then she's completely absent from books two and three and only makes a fleeting appearance in book four, thanks to the story moving in a direction that made it awkward to include her.
The fact that Lalasa is a lesbian and was previously abused comes off as Rape and Switch to some fans.
The fact that Alexander of Tirragen is noted to be the only one of Jonathan's clique who is dark-skinned (specifically, Arabic-looking), and he later goes on to become The Dragon to Duke Roger is...interesting.
Word of God says that Duke Roger and Thom were originally meant to be gay lovers. It's problematic that the only gay/bi characters in the Alanna books are the main villain and his eventual sidekick. This issue goes away when Lalasa/Tian appears in Page, the second book of the Protector of the Small quartet.
White-skinned Aly being the only one able to catalyze the resistance movement of the dark-skinned raka smacks of Mighty Whitey. And for that matter, so does her mother and King Jonathan being the only ones able to defeat the Ysandir after centuries of them bothering the black-skinned Bazhir. Possibly justified in Aly's case due to her father's training of her, which no one else in the resistance movement could possibly have had. They do mention many times that the resistance would have gone ahead without her — she just made it more effective and likely to succeed. Also in Alanna's, what with her being God-touched and all.
It's also mentioned both times as the gods invoking Token White... if Aly hadn't been a vital and well-known part of the resistance, the other whites would have gotten far worse treatment after the rebellion. Alanna and Jon get help slaying the Ysandir because it was the only chance they had of getting the Bazhir to trust them.
Even worse, there's a scene where Aly goes undercover in brownface, and when some of the locals call her out on it, her response is to beat them up.
A minor character named Peliwin in Lady Knight is shown to be The Tease who likes that two men are fighting over her and is thoroughly scolded by Kel for it. Later, it's strongly implied that she was raped by enemy soldiers, or at least singled out for special mistreatment. Neither Kel nor the text draws a line between the two things, but these two scenes are also the only times we see Peliwin. Since it would be a "lesson" in many, many other stories, some fans think that Pierce should have made it explicit that this was not Laser-Guided Karma.
The fact that almost all the male love interests are Dogged Nice Guys, i.e., they are "persistent"note read: pushy in their attempts to gain the lead's affection. A lot of their actions (Rosto and his grabbing, George and his stalking) are clearly out of bounds, but if the relationship fails to take root it's almost always for a reason other than the guy's pushy behavior.
Numair and Daine hooking up while he's 30 and she's 16, plus Daine was Numair's student several years ago, and he stole a lock of her hair while she was sleeping (for practical purposes, but it's still stated that he did this despite knowing she would never agree to it).
George's early wooing of Alanna consists of behavior the text itself explicitly describes as "stalking." Among his more "charming" moments are agreeing to give Alanna all the space she wants and then immediately forcing a kiss on her, and slipping a drug in her drink (so she'll be rested before her knighthood trials, but given his earlier actions it can be pretty uncomfortable). Pierce has since said that she regrets writing the relationship like this, as it was standard romantic writing in the '80s, and it's the part of the franchise she would most want to go back and change.
Values Dissonance: Pierce has admitted that these days, George telling a teenaged Alanna that they're obvious soul mates and destined to be together comes off as far creepier than it did in the '80s. It also doesn't help that Alanna herself thinks of his actions as "stalking" and he drugs her at one point.
She got hit harder by it after hooking up 16-year-old Daine and 30-year-old Numair in the final book of The Immortals. By the time this book came out, the Squick reaction was fully in force, and resulted in such a backlash that Protector of the Small gives its heroine no major love interest at all, with only a few age-appropriate crushes that mostly don't go anywhere.
You Say Girl like a Bad Thing: Alanna starts out hating her femininity and wishing she was a boy, and one of the major themes is her coming to accept said femininity. She still remains a more-than-competent Action Girl. IIRC, Pierce used the line "You say I'm a girl like it's a bad thing" in Song of The Lioness with Liam.
From The Woman Who Rides Like a Man:
Bazhir: You ride as a man, fight as a man, think as a man,-
Alanna: I think as a human being! Men don't think any differently from women, they just make more noise about being able to do so!
In In the Hand of the Goddess, when she's talking about her dislike of spiders.
Alanna: What do they know about girls anyway?...Maids at the palace handle snakes and kill spiders without acting silly. Why do boys say someone acts like a girl as if it were an insult?
Kel protests that she likes being a girl after her prejudiced but increasingly impressed training master Lord Wyldon fervently wishes that she could have been a boy instead. She also makes it a point to wear dresses when she has casual-clothing time at the beginning of her page training, to remind the boys that she's a girl and she's not going to be ashamed of it.
Lampshaded after Alanna and Jonathan return from the Black City:
That was before she had shown the Ysandir that a girl was the worst enemy they could ever face.