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YMMV / Song of the Lioness

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  • Base-Breaking Character: Liam Ironarm. Was their short relationship good for Alanna in forcing her to answer questions about her goals and future, or was he just an unlikable Jerkass who had no business interrogating her and ordering her around?
  • Complete Monster: Duke Roger of Conté, Alanna's Arch-Enemy and the Big Bad, was originally heir of his cousin King Roald before the birth of Prince Jon bumped him down the line of succession, and he stops at nothing to get his place back. He creates a Mystical Plague that kills many in the city of Corus before it reaches its intended target, the royal family, who were deliberately targeted last so that the palace Healers were too weak to save Jon's life. When this fails, Roger's second attempt on his cousin's life involves goading Jon into getting himself killed by exploring a cursed city. Alanna foils this too, so Roger sends multiple Animal Assassins after her, tries to drown her, turns her friend Alex against her so that he tries to kill her while sparring, and helps create a war with Tusaine so he can pull a Uriah Gambit on both of them. After the war is ended without his intended results, Roger casts a wasting sickness on his lawful aunt, the Queen Lianne, using a wax doll of the Queen, being periodically run under a stream of running water that slowly drains her life force; this wrecks her already-poor health enough that she dies little over a year after the spell has been ended. When Alanna uncovers this plot and finally exposes him, she kills him, but that doesn't end it. When Roger returns he has become a full-blown Omnicidal Maniac, who gives up regaining the throne in favor of destroying Tortall with an earthquake out of spite. Not even his own followers, except Alex, are told, most thinking that they're participating in a standard usurper plot and not realizing that he cares nothing for them either.
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  • It Was His Sled: Most of the major events of these books are mentioned in the subsequent Tortall series, which is where many people start. For example, Wild Magic shows Alanna and George as a married couple quite early in the book, to say nothing of the presence of Queen Thayet (who was only introduced in the final book of Alanna's quartet).
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: With the books as short as they are, Alanna's romantic woes can become this for readers who run into yet another issue between Alanna, George, Jon, and Liam before her exciting adventures can resume. The Values Dissonance mentioned below doesn't help either.
  • The Scrappy: Princess Josiane, for having hardly any characterization which makes her reveal as a villain lack any kind of weight. Plus, she's not nearly an important enough character to be the one to kill Faithful.
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  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Thanks mainly to Early Installment Weirdness, there are several plot points (like the Old Ones that originally made Alanna's sword) that go nowhere either here or in later books.
  • Too Cool to Live: Thor, the Mauve Shirt soldier whom Alanna befriends in the second book. Apart from sharing a name with the God of Thunder, he's a big, bombastic fellow who's excellent in battle, helps Alanna deal with her first experience with it, and serves as her first experience losing a friend in war.
  • Values Dissonance: George shows romantic interest in Alanna when she's eleven and he's eighteen, and stalks her for years, and yet is presented as a perfectly fine romantic option. Readers today tend to view that as squicky at best and very disturbing at worst. Tamora Pierce has gone on record stating changed values do make this a lot creepier now, and this is even the part of everything she's written that she most wishes she could go back and change.
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