Tamora Pierce

Hi Tammy,

Remember that time you laughed at a badger meme I posted? You probably don’t, and I don’t blame you. You probably see a lot of badger memes. But I remember, and I was proud of myself for that for, like, a whole day afterward. Not to get too sappy, but bringing some small amount of joy to someone who had brought me gobs and gobs of it was a really good feeling.

The first book of yours I read was Wolf-Speaker.

I know, I know, it’s a weird place to start: a second book of a second series. I didn’t even have the decency to start at the beginning of the Immortals quartet. I was thrown into a story already begun, meeting a protagonist who had already begun her arc, spending time with characters who had already been introduced and elaborated on.

I regret nothing. Part of this is because of your writing, Tammy. Despite coming in partway through a 4-book arc, starting with Wolf-Speaker just felt like another entry point into the story. You weave in the salient details of past events without belaboring them, hint at larger happenings in the world, and further develop your characters all within the confiens of a single story. Wolf-Speaker doesn’t feel incomplete, though I would also argue that it fits perfectly into its niche in Daine’s timeline.

I also don’t regret my decision at all because being introduced to a protagonist who can communicate with animals, and having her first major interactions be with a wolf pack was the perfect point to enter a story for my 12-year-old self. Regular readers of the BWP blog may recall that I wrote of the Redwall universe that a universe full of talking animals was everything I wanted. I may have to slightly tweak that statement, because even better was the possibility of a universe where animals were still animals — not living in buildings and farming the land, but living as animals do — but some people could talk to them. Rather, some people could talk to them, and they would answer.

From Wolf-Speaker, I finished the Immortals quartet, and then went back to read your works from the beginning. Over time I got to meet all of your heroines, and I am so glad I spent time growing up with all of these women. From bull-headed temperamental Alanna to calm unyielding Kel, to snippy people-averse Tris — it would take too long to describe them all, but suffice it to say, that when I try to determine a single favorite, it’s nearly impossible.*

There are many things I can be thankful for in your writing, Tammy, but the greatest thing is that you showed me unequivocally that women in fantasay could be as real and varied as the women I know from reality. They could show full ranges of emotions, had their own ideas, and made their own decisions. They could be sad, angry, brave, quiet, brash, thoughtful, giddy, and everything in between. Thank you for their stories.


*Nearly. (I’ll give you one guess).


Tamora Pierce

For a lot of people in my generation, Harry Potter was the series that introduced them to fantasy.

For me, it was a few years earlier, with Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series. I’ve written about this series before on this blog, from her realistic approach to puberty and birth control, to using Alanna as an example of a gender non-conforming character. I have seriously considered naming one of my children after one of her characters. The way that she builds universes, writes about magic, and blends interpersonal relationships is mind-blowing to me to this day.

For over 15 years, her books (I believe I read the Circle of Magic series in the late 90s, and I just finished Melting Stones as an audiobook) have inspired me to see through the differences in other people, care for the earth, and do the right thing even when it seems impossible. If, when I die, they dissect my brain, they will surely find some of Tamora Pierce’s words woven into the gray matter.

Thank you, Tammy, for this wonderful gift.


D’you Think I Want to Be a Lady?


Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | e-mail


Last week, I wrote about different roles and styles chosen by women in YA dystopian fiction, so I thought I’d continue the trend by talking about gender roles and style (well, dress vs. armor style, at least) in fantasy!

A lot of women in fantasy (particularly Medieval Europe-inspired fantasy, which a lot of it is – see our discussions about other inspirations here) wear gowns, and their men wear armor. There’s nothing wrong with this, as it’s pretty accurate to historical European settings; plus, you can have diverse and interesting characters who still conform to gender norms. But what about when they don’t? When a woman character is more comfortable in chainmail than velvet? Or when it’s just safer for a girl to crop her hair and use a boy’s name? When a girl has to disguise herself as a boy to achieve a goal? That’s when the gender-bending fun of cross dressing comes in.

No, I’m not talking about RuPaul’s Drag Race – I’m talking about characters like Alanna of Trebond in Song of the Lioness, and Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth in A Song of Ice and Fire.  These ladies find some reason to dress in trousers when their peers are in skirts, are sometimes able to convince those around them they are actually boys, and sometimes suffer mockery when they are revealed.

In Brienne’s case, she never claims to be a male, but still steadfastly refuses to wear women’s clothing. Characters like this break gender barriers in their worlds and make readers question things in our own – sure, a woman can wear pants in America in 2016 without being mocked, but what if a woman wants to be a welder or a man wants to be a florist? Characters who blur gender lines are valuable because they show readers that not all people of one gender share the same interests, clothing choices, and career goals.

-This post includes spoilers for the above series.-

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Tortall, Emelan, and Birth Control (Followup to TBT #06)


Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | Email

I have to be honest- I learned a lot about sex and relationships from Tamora Pierce.

Tamora (or Queen Tammy, as fans sometimes affectionately dub her) is the author of numerous YA fantasy series, including Song of the Lioness, Protector of the Small, Immortals, Circle of Magic, and The Circle Opens. In this post, I’ll discuss why her approach to sex and birth control was so eye-opening for me. I’ll try not to get TOO spoiler-heavy, but if “abc learns xyz about birth control and does some kissing” is considered a spoiler, you may want to skip this post! The primary books discussed will be Song of the Lioness, Protector of the Small, and The Will of the Empress (a continuation of the Circle books.)

This post also discusses things like periods, birth control, and sex, so if those are not your cup of tea, this post won’t be either. 

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