Tamora Pierce

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Tamora Pierce in 2008

Tamora Pierce (born December 13, 1954) is an author of fantasy and horror literature who writes books for young adults. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania.

Best known for writing stories involving young heroines, she made a name for herself with her first quartet The Song of The Lioness, which followed the main character Alanna through the trials and triumphs of training as a knight. Pierce is also the co-founder of the forum Sheroes Central.

"I just want to be a warrior maiden and go on adventures. I don't want to fall in love, especially not with George or Jon. They'll ask me to give them parts of me. I want to keep me for myself. I don't want to give me away. Look at my father. He never really got over my mother's death. They told me when he died last month he was calling for her. He gave her part of himself, and he just never got it back. That's not going to happen to me."

[to Duke Hilam] “You are brave kicking a chained prisoner. They must sing heroic ballads about you on winter nights!”

Funny. It used to be I couldn't wait to go. And now that the time to leave is here, I only want to stay. Why can't I be happy- or at least, why can't I make up my mind?

[admiring her shield] A lioness rampant. I like it.

Even if [Roger] kills me, I've won. I've planted the seed of doubt here; he'll never be trusted again.

"C'mon, Coram! Let's go find an adventure!"

"I think as a human being... Men don't think any differently from women- they just make more noise about being able to."

[to Roger] “You know something? There are sandstorms that stop 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 creature solid. Against those things, you're just a man. I can deal with you.”

[to Daine] "Don't tell me. You expected some one taller."

[regarding Aly's blue hair] "It's as sophisticated as a blueberry."
"It's fair funny. I've gone from having no home, to having too many!"

"Folk like you always lay the blame on somebody else. If I'd listened to talk like that, I'd've let myself get killed by my own people months ago."

[to Numair] “I hope you will think of a smart way to fight them. If you don't, I will find a stupid way.”

"Cats aren't special advisers. They advise us all the time, whether we want them to or no."

[To Numair] "I think it's fair rude of you to turn him into a tree and not know what kind he is!"

"Odds bobs!"
"You mean there has to be a reason for the masters to give us hard work? I thought that was their idea of fun."

[to Raoul] “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my lord. You are a bad man.”

"You all know why we're here. You know the enemy. He will be on us soon. When he comes, we will fight, not for some glorious cause, but to survive. The gods have given us time to prepare, and we must take advantage of every moment of it. Once the enemy comes, how safe we'll be is determined by these walls and the people in them…"

"Mistresses, have you ever noticed that when we disagree with a male- I hesitate to say 'man'- or find ourselves in a position over males, the first comment they make is always about our reputations or our monthlies?"

Alianne "Aly" of Pirate's Swoop

[to her mother] "Must you be so obsessed? I know all of this already. When you were my age you’d killed ten giants, armed with only a stick and a handful of pebbles. Then you went on to fly through the air on a winged steed, to return with the Dominion Jewel in your pocket and the most beautiful princess in all the world for your king to marry."

"Why, I'm just as true and honest as dirt. And I'm even more charming than dirt."

[explaining her blue hair] "I proclaim the shallowness of the world and of fashion. I scorn those who sway before each breeze of taste that dictates what is stylish on one's dress, face, or hair. I scoff at the hollowness of life."

Rebekah "Beka" Cooper

"The lower city is mine, it's people are mine. If I find them that's doing all this kidnapping and murdering, they'd best pray for mercy, because once I get my teeth in 'em, I will NEVER let them go."
[to Kel] "Where's the sunny smile? The 'Hello, Neal, isn't it a wonderful day to be alive in the royal palace?' pain-in-the-bum greeting I usually get?"

“I’d like to find whoever taught the Stump that extra work builds character and push him down the stairs.”

“Tilt with Lord Raoul? Why don't I just lie down in front of an elephant and let him step on me? I bet it feels the same."

[about Jump] “You know, Mindelan, our lives would be easier if the dog just broke down and talked.”

Myles of Olau

"I truly love our Code of Chivalry. We are taught that noblemen must take everything and say nothing. Noblemen must stand alone. Well, we're men, and men aren't born to stand alone."

"There's a dancing bear in Corus who's almost as shaggy as I am."

Raoul of Goldenlake

"When people say a knight's job is all glory, I laugh, and laugh, and laugh… Often I can stop laughing before they edge away and talk about soothing drinks."

"Commanders are as rare as heroes... You've shown flashes of being a commander, Keladry. Its my job to see if you will do more than just flash..."

Gareth of Naxen

"Ah. 'Free time.' I've heard about that. Don't fool yourself, Fire-Top. What with the extra hours of lessons for punishments, and the work you get everyday, free time is an illusion. It's what you get when you die and the gods reward you for a life working from dawn until midnight. We all face up to it sooner or later."

[upon learning Alanna's true identity] "Oh, I can't wait to see their faces!"
[to Alanna] "There are plenty of fish in the sea besides Prince Jonathan, and this particular fish loves you with all his crooked heart."

“Don't call me 'gentleman'. I work for a livin'.”
[to Daine] "I love you, if you get yourself killed, I will never forgive you."
[to Daine] "Boys worry just as much about their looks as girls do; we only hide it better."


He's here. The Voice of the Tribes. He has very good taste: he likes cats.

[to Alanna] Wake up and get dressed. You don't want the surprise they've planned to be a surprise for them as well as you.

There must be insanity in my family, too.

[observing Coram and Rispah flirting] He likes your coming here better now.


"You've a gift for healing. It's greater than mine, greater than any I have ever known. And you've other magic, power you'll learn to use. But the healing- that's the important thing. [...] You see only the glory. But there's lives taken and families without fathers and sorrow. Think before you fight. Think on who you're fighting, if only because one day you must meet your match. And if you want to pay for those lives you do take, use your healing magic. Use it all you can, or you won't cleanse your soul of death for centuries. It's harder to heal than it is to kill. The Mother knows why, but you've a gift for both." -Maude [to Alanna]

"I wish I could say 'have fun', but I can't see how anyone can have fun learning to be a knight." -Thom [to Alanna]

“If I'd known I'd be traveling with a legend, I would of thought twice about comin' along.” – Coram Smythesson

"Girls play at bein' Lioness. I saw one chasing her brother down the street, wavin' a stick and calling for the Conte Duke to submit to her sword." -Lord Provost

"All you mages are Players at heart. I swear. Can't do the magic unless you have all kinds of robes and props and a big audience to cheer you." -Onua Chamtong

“I would apologize for my rudeness, if I had manners. Happily, I don’t.” -Rikash Moonsword

“That's Lalasa, Kel's maid. She sews and knows all sorts of ways to hurt you.” -Owen of Jesslaw [to his first-year cousins]

“You're alive. Most people who go five rounds with my lord can only babble about funeral plans.” -Domitan of Masbolle [to Kel]

"If he's like this now, how will he stay calm when his daughter tries for her knighthood?" -Irnai the Seer [about Neal]

"It appalls me to say this, but for the first time I find myself in agreement with Sir Nealan." -Lord Wyldon of Cavall

“That’s the one, all right. I told you she would come, the Protector of the Small. And she’s got her knowing animals, the healer, and the horse boy, the armed men and the marked men, the trapper and the bitter mother. They’re all here. Blayce will fall.” -Irnai the Seer

The Song of the Lioness Quartet (Dialogue and Excerpts)

"Hello," [Myles] greeted her cheerfully. "You must be Alan of Trebond. You're very hardy to have made it this far the first day. Has anyone said what we try to learn in here?"
Alanna said the first thing that came to her lips. "The only thing I know is that I jump when I'm told to and I have no free time."

Gary: "I like you- for all you're a thief."
George: "And I like you, Gary- for all you're a noble."

Raoul grinned. "I'd like to see him mess with our Alan. I'd pound him to a pulp." Alanna had become a favorite with Raoul, and he didn't care who knew it.
Alanna make a face. "I do my own fighting, thanks."
"Raoul just wants an excuse," Jonathan explained. "He likes hitting Ralon."

Stefan: "...if Ralon ever comes back from th' City wiv a full purse, George'll have all our ears. George likes Master Alan."
Gary: "Let George do what he wants. What do you mean, he'll have you ears."
Stefan: "George has a collection. One slip an' he warns ye. Two, an' he takes an ear- fer his collection. Three mistakes- he takes t'other ear an' all that's attached. George likes things done right."

"I fell down, you Grace," she said, her face straight.
"Mithros, boy- can't you think of a better excuse?"
She scuffed a foot. "This one works so well, sir. It- it has tradition behind it."
Alanna was opening the door when he added, "I wish you would thrash him. He deserves it."
She looked back at him. "I will one day, sir. I'm getting tired of falling down."

Alanna: "Ralon of Malven has beggars and thieves for ancestors. He's the son of a lizard and a demon. He has all the honor of a weasel. He can't even fight in the open like a man and a noble. He picks his fights in back halls- so no one can see him cheat."
Ralon: "What did you say?"
Alanna: "Liar. Sneak. Coward. Bully. You disgrace your name. D'you want me to write it down for you? Oh- I forgot. You can't read, either."

Ralon looked at the others. "They won't step in, no matter what?" he asked slyly.
"They won't. I swear on my honor as a gentleman. You'd better swear by something else, though. You don't have any honor." [Alanna] slapped him with all her strength and ducked.

Alanna: "You planned this all along!"
Jon: "I hate mysteries. This place has been one for years. I knew you'd have the guts to come with me."
Alanna: "But- Gary, Alex, Raoul. They would've-"
Jon: "They would've grumbled all the way here and then knocked me over the head when I tried to enter the city. I knew you'd come and keep quiet."
Alanna: "That's because I'm the only one with insanity in my family."

Ylanda: [to Jon] "Young lion- see your companion for what she really is!"
Jon: "She?"

Alanna: "I haven't wanted to lie to you."
Jon: "I should hope so. You're the worst liar I've ever met. Or the best. Now I'm all confused."

"Don't you watch," she warned as she stripped and plunged into the chilly water.
Jonathan chuckled. "Not me. You're too skinny- and too good with a sword."
In the three years she had been disguised as a boy, [Alanna] had learned that boys know girls as little as girls know boys. It didn't make sense- people are people, after all, she thought- but that was how things were.

Myles: “You didn't kill him. He would have killed you, but you didn't kill him.”
Alanna: “So? He was stupid. If I killed everyone who was stupid I wouldn't have time to sleep.”

Myles: "You're a good lad, Alan of Trebond. You give an old man hope.
Alanna: "Nonsense. You aren't that old. And I'm not that good a lad.

And the cat! If Faithful was an ordinary cat, Roger would swallow his wizards rod whole.

Scholar: "Are ye ever here t' drink? What a sober youngling! Ye an' Johnny! Ye never have a drop!"
Lightfingers: "'Tis unnatural! Alan, ye won't even have a drink t' celebrate th' Prince's birthday?"
Alanna: "You're celebrating His Highness's birthday? It's not even midnight! Does he know you're so loyal, 'Fingers?"
George: Lightfingers just likes to drink, Alan. And if he can't find an excuse, he drinks from sorrow."

Alanna: "Need help getting back to your rooms?"
Myles: "No. I'm staying to watch the pretty little Eldorne girl try to hook every eligible male at Court.
Alanna: "If she doesn't succeed, it won't be because she didn't try."

This was insane! [Alex] acted as if he really wanted to kill her; with a dull practice sword, death would be very painful.

Alanna: "You must think I'm an awful sissy."
Jon: I threw up after my first skirmish."
Alanna: "You never."
Jon: "I did. And I didn't have anyone to hold my head for me. Don't tell the men, will you?"
Alanna: "I won't tell if you won't."
Jon: "Done. It wouldn't do for them to think we're sissies, would it?"

Alanna: "Were you the one who found me?"
Jon: "Actually, Faithful did. You know, that cat's more intelligent then most people."
Faithful: Of course I am.

Roger: "I appreciate your honesty, Alan of Trebond. Not many dare be so open with me."
Alanna: "Not many have insanity in their families, either."

Duke Hilam: "I've heard about your bad manners, Alan of Trebond."
Alanna: "Funny. I always heard the men from Tusaine possessed some trace of honor. Isn't it odd how rumors lie?"

Alanna: "Perhaps your mother betrayed your father with a warthog. You both certainly have a warthog's manners. Jem there even has a warthog's looks."
Duke Hilam: Jemis is very rash. I'm not. It's going to take far more than these little barbs to pierce my armor-"
Jon: "Perhaps my sword will pierce it, then?"

Alanna: "Don't die on me. It's only a little shoulder wound. Goddess, George- don't die on me."
George: "I didn't know you cared. And why insult me? I won't die for a wee nick like this; I've had worse in my day."
Alanna: "Of course I care, you unprincipled pickpocket! Of course I care."

She thought he was asleep. "I love you, Jonathan," she whispered.
A long arm snaked around her, and he pulled her against his side. "I know," he said. "I just wanted to be sure you knew it, too."
Akhnan Ibn Nazzir: "The favor of the gods to the man who kills her! I swear it!"
Alanna: "If the favor of the gods is offered, why don't you kill me yourself?"

Akhnan Ibn Nazzir: "Demon! Not content with the soul of Halef Seif, you try to steal our young ones!"
Halef Seif: "I believe I retain my soul, Akhnan Ibn Nazzir. Surely I would know if it was gone."

Coram: "[Alanna] always hated the Duke, feared him, even. He felt the same about her. She killed him in proper combat, before the King and his Court, but she never felt right about it. I'd give a lot to know how a sword that looks like his wizard's rod turned up in her path now."
Halef Seif: "She has been chosen by the gods. Is that not reason enough?

Ali Mukhtab: "You frighten them. You are too new; you are too different. Will they have to behave differently, now that you are of the tribe? Better that you die and become a legend. Legends force no one to change."

[Alanna] could feel the crystal sword humming each time it sliced past her. The sound made her slightly ill: it was as if Duke Roger were nearby, directing the sword in its quest for her life.

Ali Mukhtab: "To make girls shamans is a new thing. But this tribe has done many things that are new since the coming of the Woman Who Rides Like a Man."

Alanna: "This training will be good for them."
Faithful: It will be good for you, too. It might even make an adult of you, but I doubt that.
Alanna: "I'm glad I have you to keep me humble."
Faithful: I'm glad you do, too.

Alanna: "You look at what you want to burn- later you won't have to look at it- and you picture it burning. Then you want it to burn."
Kara: "What if I don't want it to burn?"
Alanna: "You have to want it to burn. Otherwise why would you be trying this spell?"
Kara: "Oh."

Myles: "Do you love Jon?"
Alanna: "...Yes, I love him. That's the whole problem."

Ali: "It would be a great thing for the Woman who rides like a man to marry the voice of tribes." Alanna: "And if we don't?" Ali: "Then you are still the woman who rides like a man, and he is still the voice of tribes"

Alanna: “At least I never thought I could take on an entire army by myself!”
Faithful: “You still do.”

Roger: “You're cocky, aren't you? Killed anyone recently?”
Alanna: “No. It's so depressing to come back and find one's work reversed.”

The Immortals Quartet (Dialogue and Excerpts)

Daine: “Does your ma know you're this silly?”
Numair: “The few grey hairs she has on her head are my doing. But, I send her plenty of money, so she can have them dyed!”
Onua: “I hope she beat you as a child.”

"...the tinder burst into flame. She had to put large sticks of wood on it fast, before the fire used up the tinder. "But you didn't point, or make circles, or anything-"
[Numair] shrugged. "Some people need those things. I don't."
She gasped at his arrogance. "Well, excuse me for breathing!"

Sarge: "Something the matter, my lamb?"
Daine: "No, sir. I just never met nobody like you."
Buri: "And if you're lucky, you won't again."

Jon: "I'd best go then. I have to dance with the Carthaki ambassador's wife."
Numair: "Wear iron shoes, Your Majesty."

[Daine] frowned, remembering. "[My heart] made too much noise. I wanted it to quiet down so I could talk with the dolphins."
"Do you hear her?" Numair asked the clouds. "She wanted to talk to dolphins, so she stopped her own blessed heart! Mithros, Mynoss, and Shakith!"
Daine: "[Stormwings] befoul the dead who fall in battle. They live on human fear and anger. They're monsters!"
Maura: "They can't help how they're made, Daine."

Numair [after turning Tristan Staghorn into a tree]: “What kind is he, can you tell?”
Daine: “I think it's fair rude to make him a tree and not know what kind he is.”
Kaddar: "We assumed those tales of women fighting among the Riders were only tales. No woman has ever asked to join our armies."
Daine: "With you so open and welcoming to the idea, I'm not surprised."

"Woe to the empire- we are forsaken. The gods are angry!" -Statue of Zernou, the first Carthaki emperor

Kaddar: "Women aren't up to the discipline of military life."
Daine: "You must tell Lady Alanna that sometime. I'd do it from a distance."

"[Numair] dies, my dear. The gods demand a blood sacrifice, and so do I." -Emperor Ozorne

Daine: "I thought they'd killed you. I lost my temper."
Numair: "Magelet, that is the greatest understatement I've ever heard in my life."
Daine: “It's a very great honor meeting you.”
Queenclaw: (Goddess of cats) “Of course it is."

The Protector of the Small Quartet (Dialogue and Excerpts)

Salma: "What do they think their mothers do, when the lords are at war and a raiding party strikes?"
Kel: "My aunt lit barrels of lard and had them catapulted onto Scanran ships this summer."
Salma: "As would any delicately reared noblewoman."

Lord Wyldon: "You have been told to mind you manners, Page Nealan. I will have an apology for your insolence."
Neal: "An apology for general insolence, your lordship, or some particular offense?"
Lord Wyldon: "One week scrubbing pots. Be silent."
Neal: "How can I be silent and yet apologize?"

Neal: "What possessed you? Why in the name of all the gods in all the Eastern and Southern Lands would you start a fight with them?"
Kel: "I didn’t like the shape of Joren’s nose."
Kel: "I'll tell you what the Yamanis told me. Fear is a good thing. It means you're paying attention."
Lalasa: "They sound like wonderful people, I'm sure."

Neal glared at the chubby second-year with all the royal disdain of a vexed lion. He was limping from a staff blow to the knee. "You are a bloody-minded savage," he informed Owen sternly. "I hope you are kidnapped by killer centaurs."
Sergeant Osbern: “Let's have an inspection. Mithros witness, if I find one strap undone, heads will roll.
Giles of Veldine: But, Sergeant Osbern, sir, I like my head.”

The Chamber of the Ordeal: “You again.”
Kel: “Yes, of course, it’s me. I’m proving to myself that I’m not afraid of you.”
The Chamber of the Ordeal: “But you are.”
Kel: “I like lying to myself. It’s fun.”

She loved no one so much as her horse.
Kel: “He’s a fine judge of folk, Peachblossom. Except Neal. He’s prejudiced against Neal.”
Tobe: “He just likes the way Neal squeaks when he’s bit.”

Kel waited for them to quiet once again before she said ruefully, “I’m not sure that being known for gutting a man is exactly a recommendation for a commander.”
“It is in the north!” cried someone.

"You don't respect me," Kel told him with her sourest glare.
Neal grinned. "I respect you heaps, lady knight. I'd've thrown myself off a bridge, getting this assignment. You, you're there with lists and plans. You listen to every flap-mouthed bumpkin who thinks he can do your task better, and you answer him with a smile and thanks. Why, you've inspired me to be a blessing to my fellow bumpkin, just like you." He fluttered his fingers in delicate farewell and trotted down the stairs.
"I can turn him into something, if you like," Numair murmured, startling a laugh out of Kel.
"He was actually complimenting me," she told the mage. "It happens so rarely, I'd hate to see him turned into anything for it."

“Sergent Domitan, tell me these children aren’t the result of you squad’s Scanran frolics,” Kel heard Raoul say cheerfully. “Though I do admit, some of them look a little old to be yours.”
“Well, sir, my men helped,” Dom said, the picture of boyish mischief.

Tobe looked up at her with suspicion. “Are you goin’ t’act like a girl now?” he demanded.
“No,” Kel said, stifling a giggle- something that really would frighten him. “It won’t happen again.”

“I want a scar to impress the girls,” [Owen] informed Neal, “They like a man who looks dangerous, and my face needs all the help I can get.”
“At least let me clean it,” Neal growled. “Unless you think you’ll look really dangerous with your face rotting off.”

The Daughter of the Lioness Series (Dialogue and Excerpts)

"I want her head shaved," [the captain] snapped. "Nobody's going to buy a blue-haired slave."

Slave Woman: "So were you always mad, or did it come on you when you was took?"
Aly: "I'm told it runs in the family."

"A noble maiden must convey dignity and chastity without appearing to think about either one. Let common-born girls tussle in the hay with their loutish swains. The future of your family's bloodline and your future lord's bloodline should be your greatest concern." -Excerpt from Advice to Young Noblewomen

"Cooked or raw, sausage is not the food of the gods." -Kyprioth

"I don’t trust anyone who feels you should like them because they love themselves so much." -Dove

"Such fatherly wrath. I would be terrified, except, well, I'm not." -Kyprioth

"Merchants," Ulasim remarked drily, referring to her false background again. "Yes, of course I believe you. I must, mustn't I? You are Kyprioth's chosen, so the truth drips from your tongue like honey from the comb."

The Provost's Dog Trilogy (Dialogue and Excerpts)


Shut your gob...You tell me nothin' in my kennel. Here, I am Queen Bitch, and you will muzzle yourself." -Kebibi Ahuda

"Don't hit her again, Beka. Let me do it next time." - Aniki Forfrysning

"Who needs handsome idiots when we can have kitties!" - Aniki Forfrysning

"Guardsfolk, lovely day for a riot." - Rosto the Piper

Berryman: Why can't I be on watch with Tunstall?

Goodwin: Because we tossed a coin and I lost.

[Ersken and Kora are kissing]

Beka: [grabs Ersken as she's passing] I'm not having fun, you're not having fun,

Ersken: You sound more like Goodwin every day.

Beka: I begin to see how she got the way she is.



"'Beka, I'm going to hold your hand now,'He said, only half joking. He reached out and drew me into the alley with him. 'I'm sorry. I've never taken a Dog around before. It never occured to me there might be...hazards." Dale Rowan to Beka Cooper


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