"Alanna: The First Adventure" is book one in the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. In it we meet Alanna and her twin brother, neither of whom are satisfied with the traditional roles they are expected to fulfill. Fortunately (and sadly) their father doesn't pay much attention to them. So Alanna manages to take Thom's place to go and study to be a knight, and he is able to go work on becoming a sorcerer.
Alanna becomes Alan as she works her hardest to become a knight. I think I'm a sucker for stories like this, because while it's not an original concept, I still loved it! Alanna faces many challenges in her journey, especially because she is naturally the smallest and weakest among those in training because of her sex.
Thom may be the one studying to become a sorcerer, but Alanna also has magical ability, and her talent with healing is strong. This becomes vital when a sickness sweeps through the castle and the Prince's life is threatened! She shows her strength of personality as she manages to manipulate her way into the sick room where she does battle for his life.
While the battle for the prince's life is a significant one, it's by no means the only most major one she will fight in this book. No, at the side of the prince she is called to fight and even greater foe. One no one could imagine they'd have a chance against.
The writing in this book is a little simplistic and at a young reading level, but it's still a lot of fun to read. My elf-sister, who recommended the series to me, says that as the series goes along it becomes more "grown-up." I'm glad, because if this is the first adventure, I'm looking forward to seeing what else Alanna gets herself into!