Study Guide

George Cooper in Alanna: The First Adventure

By Tamora Pierce

George Cooper

King of Thieves

Alanna first gets a gander at George in the capital's marketplace: "The lean young man grinned, white teeth flashing in his tanned face" (1.109). (Ooh, we think we might like this guy even better than Jonathan.) But wait! Coram warns Alanna to look out for people like him, because … he's a thief. Bummer.

But wait again! George isn't just any thief; he's the King of Thieves, the Rogue himself. He keeps court at a bar called the Dancing Dove, where thieves and their ladies play dice and drink. Sounds like a fun life, eh?

It's not all crazy hijinks, though. With a bunch of scoundrels to watch over, George also has to watch his back. Lucky him, he's got the Gift—you know, the magical one. Pretty handy for a thief, right? He says that it "helps me keep tabs on my rogues, so maybe I'll last longer than the king before me" (2.202). It's also the whole reason he meets Alanna and keeps tabs on her. As George tells Gary when they first meet, "I knew I must meet Master Alan…I don't ignore my Gift when it calls me" (2.194). It makes sense that George would pay attention to the pointers he gets from his magic; his mother trained as a priestess back in the day.

Oh, and before you start getting all warm and cozy with Georgie-poo, be warned: he has a harsh side. According to Stefan, on of George's underlings, the Rogue keeps a collection of ears: "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" (3.131).

Note to self: don't mess up around George.

Confident Confidante

George may have the Gift, but he's clueless when it comes to Alanna. (Right, ladies???) No but really, Alanna's Gift protects her little secret. So when Alanna starts her period (doh!) and decides that George is the only person she can trust to be discreet, he gets a little shouty at first: "You're a—you're a what!" (6.12).

Yeah, yeah, shocker. But George is a good friend, and he gets over his surprise pretty quickly. (We imagine that being the King of Thieves keeps him ready to roll with unexpected events.) After George helps Alanna meet his mother and get advice on how to deal with her womanly problems, George hugs Alanna and tells her, "I'll enjoy watchin' you grow up, lass. Count on me to help" (6.75). Sometimes help comes in the form of encouraging her to practice magic even though she doesn't like it, but hey—George looks after his people.

George has his reasons for sometimes holding back, though. When Alanna asks him to help her train to fight Ralon—which George is happy to do—George first says that he was worried about her taking advantage of him and his connections, based on past experiences: "I've known nobles who thought I should be grateful for their friendship—grateful enough to do them all sorts of favors. They wanted a kept thief, not a friend" (3.189). (Well, now that you mention it, a kept thief does sound kind of useful.)

It makes a strange kind of sense that the King of Thieves is one of the most reliable people in Alanna's life. Part of Alanna's development in this book involves learning about the big, wide world outside Trebond and learning that her new friends in the capital (including George) value her for who she is. (Want to know more about that? Check out our "Character Analysis" for Alanna. We'll wait.) Alanna's life is already so full of contradictions that she might as well become best buds with a thief while training to be a knight.

It's so crazy, it just might work.