Trickster's Choice (Trickster's Duet)

by Tamora Pierce

Paperback, 2004





Ember (2004), Edition: Reprint, 448 pages


Alianne must call forth her mother's courage and her father's wit in order to survive on the Copper Isles in a royal court rife with political intrigue and murderous conspiracy.


Green Mountain Book Award (Nominee — 2006)
Virginia Readers' Choice (Nominee — High School — 2007)
South Carolina Book Awards (Nominee — 2007)
Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 2004)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

448 p.; 8.31 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member bluesalamanders
I enjoyed this the first time I read it, but after rereading it, I started noticing the flaws, the most obvious being that Aly is the biggest Mary Sue I've ever read. She's absolutely flawless, she's perfect at everything she does, she's the world's best spy, all at 16.

Other characters are far
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more interesting, but don't get the time they deserve.

It's a fun enough book, but not as good even as Pierce's other books.
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LibraryThing member magemanda
Tamora Pierce returns to the world of Tortall, in this story about Aly - the teenage daughter of Alanna the Lioness and George Cooper. At the beginning of the novel, Aly is a bored young noblewoman, desperate to take her father's path as a spy but not being allowed to. Her relationship with her
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mother is fraught, since neither stubborn woman will back down on their ideas about Aly's future. After yet another argument, Aly decides to spend the summer visiting relatives rather than endure her mother's wrath, but ends up being taken by slavers en route. She is shipped to the Copper Isles and purchased by the Balitang family.

While there, Aly is visited by a minor God - Kyprioth, who used to be all-powerful to the raka people of the islands. He offers a wager - if Aly keeps the two eldest daughters of the Balitangs family alive til autumn, Kyprioth will return her to her family and speak to George Cooper on her behalf about becoming a spy.

From there, Aly is plunged into a life fraught with dangers, where the mad royal luarin family have reason to see the Balitangs first driven into exile and then attempt murder. Aly comes to see that Sarai, eldest daughter of the Balitangs, has both luarin and raka royal blood and therefore is destined to bring the people of the Copper Isles together.

Surrounded by interesting characters - such as Nawat Crow - Aly is determined to win her wager...

As is her wont, Pierce has once again given us a sassy and fiercely independent young woman, who is prepared to die out of loyalty to friends and who sees men as no more than a pleasant diversion in the pursuit of duty. Aly manages to overcome her title of slave and becomes integral to the lives of the Balitangs, through straight talking and unquenchable spirit.

My one complaint about Aly - who otherwise is a genuinely likeable young heroine - is that she is almost too clever and resourceful. We are given to understand that she has received training and advice from such illustrious personages as George, Alanna, Daine and Thayet (all characters from Pierce's previous novels about Tortall), but Aly still seems to know the answer to everything.

The book is filled with warm and interesting characters. Pierce is able to give us people and animals that we can take easily to our hearts. By the page-turning climax of the book, we care deeply for the people who have crowded the novel with their lively characters, realistic dialogue and genuine motivations.

Enjoyably, Pierce also writes strongly about divisions between the people of a land because of the colour of skin. She explains sensibly (in the words of Aly) that no one should be prejudiced against because they are the wrong colour. It is excellent that such a widely-regarded author is using her work to encourage racial equality and acceptance of the healthy differences between different people. The raka (black) and luarin (white) have both been responsible for atrocities in the past, and now must learn to live together and become simply the people of the Copper Isles.

I very much enjoyed the little details that Pierce embued this novel with to show a different culture to that of Tortall (which is very much based on feudal Europe). The Copper Isles are shown to be rich with exotic wildlife and landscapes, and the fiery food is very different from that Aly is accustomed to eating.

Happily, it is not essential to have read Pierce's other Tortall novels in order to enjoy this one, so new readers to the world can dive right in - however, it is extremely likely that, after enjoying this book, they will rush out and buy the rest. Readers accustomed to Tortall will both enjoy hearing about characters from previous books and be pleased to see this new plucky heroine take her place amongst them.
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LibraryThing member Crowyhead
Aly just might be my favorite female protagonist since Aerin in The Hero & the Crown -- she has the same brilliant competence mixed with a teenage girl's falliability. Pierce has always allowed the politics in her worlds to be realistic and not always comfortable, and this is a prime example, as
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Aly finds herself experiencing colonialism first hand. Yet it's not heavy-handed or obvious, and the heroes and villains are rarely cast in black and white. Pierce just keeps getting better and bette
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LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
Aly is the teenage daughter of Alanna the Lioness and George Cooper. Unlike seemingly everyone around her, she feels no calling. Her parents, her brothers, her friends--all of them know exactly what they want to do and fiercely pursue it. The only thing Aly feels remotely interested in is being a
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spy like her father, but he refuses to let her spy for him, on the reasonable grounds that it's too dangerous of a career. Annoyed after a fight with her mom, Aly strikes out in a small boat for a family friend's estate. But disaster strikes, and Aly is instead caught by slavers. Luckily, they don't recognize who her family is, but unluckily, this means Aly is sold as a common, untrained slave. She's bought by a fairly kind family and immediately begins crafting an escape plan. But before she even leaves the compound, the Trickster God of the islands visits her and offers to transport her back to Tortall in exchange for a year's service protecting the young ladies of the household. Aly is pretty sure she could get back to Tortall without the god's help, but is intrigued by the challenge and wants to keep the girls safe, so she agrees. For the next year, Aly dedicates herself to protecting her master's family from danger, whether from their unstable king or the gods themselves. To make her job easier, the god visits the owners and tells them Aly is his chosen representative on earth. He also sends her a flock of crows to serve as her messengers, warriors, and spies.

I didn't really buy Aly as a teenage girl. I don't think any amount of training, even by the king of thieves, would make a sixteen year old, truly on her own for the first time in her life, in an entirely foreign land, feel as confident and untroubled as Aly seems when she's taken as a slave, beaten, mistreated, and literally sold to strangers. Aly is sanguine about everything thrown at her, whether it being a god's visitation or the prospect of sleeping with a lord to get information. She masters everything, or is already good at everything, that she tries her hand at. I wish the god hadn't smoothed her path so much--this book would have been far more interested if she'd had to protect the family while being looked at as a real slave, instead of just playacting as one. And I wish she'd been a bit more challenged to understand the local situation, religion, way of life, language, etc. But overall this was an enjoyable read.

My original review, back in January 2006: Aly is Alanna's feisty young daughter. She is incredibly annoying, so much so that I never finished the first chapter. Perhaps the writing style drastically changes after that, but I doubt it. Pierce seems too enamored of the Mary-Sue style to bother with anything else.
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LibraryThing member melissarecords
Intrigues within intrigues. Alianne, the daughter of Alanna the Lioness can't quite find her place in the world. The god Kyprioth helps her along by dumping her into the political intrigues of the Copper Isles. Set in the Tortallan universe, this series is a much more sophisticated work than the
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earlier series. Less swashbuckling and magic, more subtle ploys and nuances.
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LibraryThing member chibimajo
Alianne runs away from home and gets kidnapped by slavers. But then the Trickster singles her out to be his instrument and she rides the wave of circumstances to spy for both the Trickster and her family.
LibraryThing member maita
The Copper Islands reminds me of Asian Southeastern Countries with it's history and culture. Especially the food.
Aly's father told her once never to pray in a time of crisis, you'll never know who answers. The god of te Copper Island, Kyprioth is a trickster god. He chooses Aly to be his messenger
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and one who will be the catalyst to put him back on his opposed throne. Aly, tries her best to stay alive and keep the people around her alive as well.
The god wagers with everyone and Aly find friends and foes at every turn. Kyprioth sends her help but along with help comes trouble.
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LibraryThing member stelle
Aly is so smart and always figures out what to do. The characters in this book are all unique and they all are equally delightful to read about. Though this is the first of two books it enters a world already created in earlier novels of Tamora Pierce
LibraryThing member silencedancer
I love trickster deities. Really I do. Kyprioth, the one in this novel, is a rather delightful one, being perfectly annoying and fond of guady things. He reminds me quite a bit of Loki to be honest. I also love the importance of crows in this book. I especially love Nawat, the crow turned man. He
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reminds me a lot of a character that I write and his naivety was cute. I kinda wanted to kidnap him for my own. Also, I really liked the character of Aly because she’s just different and she’s not really a warrior or a magic user - she’s a spy type person. The fact that this story actually took place outside of Tortall was really fun because it was nice to see more of a different culture in that universe.
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LibraryThing member MrsHillReads
I didn't expect to like this book....I'm not a big fantasy fan; but it was quite good. I loved the strong female character and the quirkiness of the Crow turned man. I'm going to have to order the sequel!
LibraryThing member stephxsu
16-year-old Aly, daughter of the professional spy George Cooper and the legendary woman warrior Alanna, is brilliant, flirtatious, and fun-loving. She desperately wants to conduct field work as a spy, which her father does not approve of, thinking it is too dangerous for his only daughter.

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circumstances arise where it is necessary for Aly to use her spy skills. She is kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in the Copper Isles, a collection of islands off the mainland Tortall, her home. Luckily she gets placed into the Duke and Duchess Balitang’s home. Her masters are fair and gentle, hardly treating her as a slave.

Aly enters into a bet with the disgraced god Kyprioth, known as the Trickster. She must keep the Balitang children alive until the end of summer. When the Balitangs incur the mad king’s displeasure, the whole family escapes into exile in a raka-filled island.

At Tanair, Aly learns more about the political rife between the raka and the luarian. The dark-skinned raka are the original inhabitants of the Copper Isles, taken over in a time of civil war by the foreign luarin. Kyprioth’s plan is to place a raka queen back onto the throne—and who better for the role than Sarai, the Duke’s eldest daughter, a half-raka by way of her mother?

With the help of several loyal raka servants and slaves, Aly protects the Balitang household from dangers. She gets additional help from people like Dove, Sarai’s younger sister who reminds Aly of herself, and Nawat, a crow-turned-man who declares undying devotion to Aly. Will Aly win her bet with Kyprioth and protect the good family whom she has come to love?

Tamora Pierce is known for writing quality high fantasy with endearing heroines, and TRICKSTER’S CHOICE is no different. This novel is full of political intrigue, interesting romances, and wonderful characters. I would highly recommend this book to fantasy lovers, boys and girls alike.
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LibraryThing member knielsen83
A fantastic book that coincides well with her other books that deal with this world. I'm excited for the next book, but disappointed that there are only two books about the character Aly and her interesting adventures involving a god of tricks and a crow turned human.
LibraryThing member PardaMustang
This is the first Tamora Pierce book I've read and I'll admit, I chose it for the title. I have an affinity for trickster characters. Guess it comes from being an April Fool's baby.

Needless to say, I was not disappointed with this book. It was very well written with endearing characters and a story
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that kept me hooked til the end. Already looking forward to reading the second one!
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LibraryThing member sdtaylor555
Good setup for a great spy/fantasy novel!
LibraryThing member DebbieMcCauley
Alianne (Aly), 16-year-old daughter of the famed Alanna the Lionness, longs to work as a spy for her father but her parents refuse to consider her request. In frustration she sails off in her boat but is taken captive and sold as a slave in a neighbouring island country, the Copper Isles. The
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trickster god Kyprioth chooses her to serve as his secret agent as a slave in the household of the Balitangs. Kyprioth makes her a deal, if she can keep the Balitang children alive through the summer, he will help her become a spy. Aly comes to realise that the trickster Kyprioth wants to get a raka (brown skinned) queen on the throne to replace the luarin (white skinned) king. The raka, have been conquered by the laurin, and deeply resent them. They have a prophecy of a twice royal queen who will free them, aided by the "wise one, the cunning one, the strong one, the warrior, and the crows."

This is another great read from Tamora Pierce of a strong, resourceful female finding her place in the world. The story is a whirlwind of intrigue, magic, fighting, comedy, winged horses, treason and romance.
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LibraryThing member Saieeda
A great book for all teens and young adults! The main character will make you fall in love with her every action. The story never falls into the pit of predictability, and the writing style makes this book perfect for readers of all abilities.
LibraryThing member ibberman
Posibly my favorite of all the Tamora Pierce books.
Aly has such a great persionalyty: she is funny, smart, knows everything when it comes to spying.... She is just great.
If you haven't read this book yet, it is time you do it because it is great!
LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Being a fifteen-year-old girl is never easy, but it's a lot harder when your mother is the first female knight in the realm, and the King's Champion to boot, your father is the head of spy network for the entire country, and your godparents, aunts, and uncles include powerful mages,
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immortals, and the king and queen themselves. Everyone is on Aly's case to *do* something with her life, but she's more interested in having fun, and the one thing she really wants to do - become a field agent spying for her father - is forbidden to her. After a particularly nasty fight with her parents, she runs away for a few weeks... only to get captured by slavers, and taken to the Copper Isles to be sold.

However, things aren't as dire as they may seem. The trickster god Kyprioth has his eye on Aly as well, and makes her a wager. He was deposed from the rule of the Copper Isles at about the same time as the local people, the Raka, were conquered by the invading Luarin. If Aly can keep the children of a local nobleman - including two half-Raka, half-Luarin daughters who may fulfill an ancient prophecy - safe throughout the summer amidst the political tensions of a kingdom in turmoil, Kyprioth will send her home to Tortall.

Review: I started this book because I was looking for something reliably entertaining, and I'd listened to and enjoyed Tamora Pierce's previous Tortall books. And, I got what I was expecting: good. Nothing great, nothing fancy, nothing world-shaking, but solidly, reliably good. Tamora Pierce can write entertaining, interesting stories, and her heroines are always sympathetic if always also a little Mary-Sue-ish (although it's forgivable in Aly's case because of her extensive pedigree - at least she comes by it honestly.) I also have to give Pierce credit for making her heroines distinct; I can easily imagine how, after writing so many books in the same universe, her main characters could start to bleed into each other, but Aly's got her own personality, and since most of the action takes place on the Copper Isles instead of Tortall, this series has its own distinctive feel.

Because of this, and because this series is almost a generation removed from the earlier Tortall books, I think it could be read on its own without knowing what precedes it. Plenty of characters from earlier books make cameo appearances, but since the vast bulk of the action takes place when Aly's on her own, far from home, knowing the backstory isn't particularly critical. There's plenty of interesting new characters to choose from... I was particularly fond of Nawat, the crow-turned-human who's more than a little smitten with Aly.

My main complaint about Trickster's Choice is that it's clearly half of a duology. By the end of the book, the story comes to a resting point, but not really an end, which makes the second book a required follow-up read. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Whether or not you've read the previous Tortall books, Trickster's Choice is a light, entertaining piece of YA fantasy adventure. It probably won't blow your socks off, but it will keep you reading, which is sometimes exactly what's needed.
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LibraryThing member rachelick
I confess, I am an inveterate Tamora Pierce fan. Her fun stories and intelligent, hard-working, likeable heroines make anything she produces a good read, and this is no exception. Moving away from the noble court of Tortall, Aly, who is the daughter of the nation's spymaster, is kidnapped and sold
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into slavery in the nearby Copper Isles. When she makes a deal with a trickster god, she must use all of the skills she learned from her father to protect the family she serves. Pierce addresses race relations and the consequences of imperialism, as well as the realities of necessary war. Contains all the necessary ingredients for a good read.
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LibraryThing member alwright1
Alianne just can't seem to decide what to do with her life, and the one thing she knows she would enjoy, spying for Tortall just like her father the spymaster, she is forbidden by her parents. In an attempt to escape a difficult few weeks with her mother, Aly sets out down the coast alone and is
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enslaved by pirates to sell in the Copper Isles. But like her famous parents, Aly attracts attention not just from the mortals around her but also from a god, and when the gods become tangled in your affairs, life is rarely boring or easy. Aly is quickly drawn in to the center of a centuries-old battle for control between the native Raka people of the Islands and their Luarin rulers. It will take all of Ally's spy skills to protect her royal blooded charges who could be the prophesied future rulers of the Raka.

I am not as drawn to Aly's character as I am to Kel and Alanna, and I thought I wouldn't enjoy her books, but just because she does not lend me personal inspiration does not mean she is not clever, funny, and charming. The story is a good one, and I've had a hard time putting it down. This book ends before the story does, so I'm now finishing the tale with this book's sequel which seems to be just as entertaining.
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LibraryThing member merigreenleaf
This book is the first in the Daughter of the Lioness/Tricksters subseries, and is about Aly, who, like the title says, is the daughter of the Lioness (aka Alanna- the first of the Tortall heroines). Unlike most of the other books in the series, this one doesn't involve Tortall much and mostly
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takes place on a set of islands west of that country, which I found to be a fresh and interesting spin- not that I'm bored of Tortall; I just think it's cool when we get to learn about the surrounding countries.

I found Aly to be just as interesting as her predecessors and I enjoyed her relationships with the other characters. The only flaw I found in her was that she was almost too clever and lucky. (I'm trying to not go into more details than you can get from the back cover or on Amazon or something, so how can I word this...) Granted, a lot of her luck can be based on the fact that a god is helping her out; although that's dubious in itself since it's a trickster god involved. The other main thing that made her so clever and lucky was her vast knowledge of spywork. I know that she was raised to have those skills, but it just seemed like she always knew what to do in any situation. Somewhere along the lines a teenager is bound to mess up, right? Still, though, that flaw wasn't a problem because it didn't really detract from her character; she's still witty, intelligent, and strong. It just kind of made me go "hmm..." after I finished the book and I realized how lucky and skilled she was the whole time.

The other characters in the book are well-rounded and interesting, too. I'll admit that I now have a crush on Nawat, one of the main characters; he's adorably innocent, although there's a reason for that, but I don't want to give it away. Suffice it to say that he's not really *human* per se. He brings a lot of humor into the story (although all this talk about eating bugs was kind of gross, now that I think about it) and is a good counterpart to Aly, and keeps her from being too serious about things. The other character I really liked was Dove, one of the girls in the family where Aly ends up. I have no idea how she is in the next book, but as of now, I'd love to see a series with Dove as the main character. Even as a 12 year old, she's just so smart and level-headed, and just seems like a good candidate for a series heroine.

As for the plot, I enjoyed the change to a different location we didn't previously know much about, and I loved the bits of humor throughout; without that humor, the book wouldn't have been nearly as good because it's a pretty dire situation that Aly is dropped into. I loved all the spying and sneaking stuff Aly is able to do (even if she is really good at it), and I thought the storyline was deep enough to hold your attention, but not so bogged down in politics and race issues that it became boring. I also enjoyed the cameos of previous characters (Kel! Daine! Numair! Hi, guys!).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I'm not sure if it's my favorite in the series (I think I prefer Daine or Kel to Aly), but it's definitely a good continuation to the super good Tortall series. I certainly wasn't disappointed by this book; I think it's just about as good as the rest. :) I'll give this 4 1/2 stars out of 5.
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LibraryThing member bridgetb27
Fantasy, Science Fiction, the Supernatural & Utopias Book Review

Pierce, Tamora. Trickster’s Choice. 2003. Random House: New York.

Fantasy, Science Fiction

Magic, Heroes, Tricksters, Family Problems

Age / Grade Appropriateness:
15/ Eighth Grade and above

South Carolina Junior Book
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Award Nominee
ALA Best Books for Young Adults

Censorship Issues:
War, Slavery

Plot Summary:
This novel takes place in the world of Tortall. The novel is about a fifteen year old girl named Aly. Her mom Alanna the Lioness and her father George is the head spy for the entire country. Aly longs to be a spy that works for her father, but her parents refuse to allow her to become a spy. She runs away from home for a few weeks and is captured by some pirates. She is sold into slavery in the Copper Isles. She then makes a deal with the trickster god Kyprioth. Aly is assigned to keep two sisters safe, which are half-Raka and half-Luarin. If Aly can keep the two sisters safe by autumn (through out the summer), then the trickster god will send her home and talk to her father on her behalf about her becoming a spy. Aly manages to keep the sisters safe.

This novel fits the bill of a YA book because it is based on a fifteen year old girl. The girl (Aly) is very much like a normal teenager in a much different setting, which would keep many young adults’ attention. I thought this was a great book, but I think it gave away the ending at the beginning of the book. I could pretty much map out what was going to happen before it happened. I think it would have been better if it would have been more suspenseful.

Curriculum Uses:
This novel could be used for entertainment. This great novel is part of a sequel, so you could continue to enjoy these novels. I also thought that it could be used in a Literature or History class to use for discussions.
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LibraryThing member megmcg624
Aly is kidnapped to the Copper Isles, where she rises above her station as slave with her spy education and the help of a trickster god.

Aly's story is a sequel to the popular trilogy by Pierce centered on Aly's mother. The world inhabited by the series characters is wholly imagined, right down to
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the geography, and completely believable. Along with the high fantasy of mages and shapeshifters, this novel contains themes of feminism, race equality, and misunderstandings between parents and children. Trickster's Choice would be a wonderful read for middle school girls able to handle violence from swordfighting and some light sexual content.
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LibraryThing member CeridwynR
Ally is totally my favourite of Tamora Pierce's heroines. I love that she isn't a fighter, but a politician and trickster. I love her manipulative feistiness and that she's trying her best to do what's right, even when she has to do dodgy things to have that happen.
LibraryThing member CeridwynR
Ally is totally my favourite of Tamora Pierce's heroines. I love that she isn't a fighter, but a politician and trickster. I love her manipulative feistiness and that she's trying her best to do what's right, even when she has to do dodgy things to have that happen.




(1079 ratings; 4.2)
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