Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. She has triumphed in countless bloody battles, and her adventures are already legendary. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs…but Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when she is challenged with the impossible. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good—but only in the right hands. And she must work fast. Tortall is in terrible danger from all directions, with enemies great and small plotting to destroy everyone and everything Alanna loves.
Alanna tucked her hands into her pockets to warm them. Thinking about what he'd said, she replied slowly, "You know something? There are sandstorms that strip man and horse and bury them—I've seen them. I saw bones piled higher than my head for the folly of a bad king and those who wanted his throne. I lived through a blizzard that froze every other living creature solid. Against those things, you're only a man. I can deal with you."
Sadly we’ve come to the end of the first series in the Tortall universe, and I loved every minute once again. Ending on a real high here we’ve got a Shang Dragon, a wandering princess, an old winter god with a hero’s treasure, two enemies from Alanna’s past, a magical sickness, and one hell of a coronation.
Alanna is living her life as a knight looking for adventures with a vengeance. There are so many new lands travelled to, so many new characters met, and so much done in Lioness Rampant. She does some soul-searching, rescues a few homeless and helpless people in a war-torn land, has a little fling with someone wholly unsuitable, and swings by a blizzard-torn mountain pass to collect a long-lost treasure before heading home to Corus a true hero.
Alanna’s homecoming is my favourite part of this series. Reuniting with all her friends and family in the castle, it’s satisfying to see her welcomed and praised for her deeds by her peers and her former teachers. It’s also a relief to see Jon is back to being a good friend and person after his short interlude as a massive prick in The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. They’ve all settled into their own roles and are just so grown up now, it’s nice to check in and see how they’re all doing.
It’s hard to talk about the rest of the book without any spoilers but suffice it to say, the ending is terrible and tragic and wonderful, and Alanna’s final choice is the one that I had hoped for from the very beginning. No matter how many times I reread this series, I always find the ending so satisfying and finish it hopeful and ready for the next chapter in Tortall’s history.