Study Guide

Alanna: The First Adventure Family

By Tamora Pierce

Family

"What about Father?" … Alanna shook her head. "He'll forget us, once we're gone." (1.19-20)

Harsh but true. Lord Alan of Trebond doesn't seem to care much about his children's needs or wants. On the one hand, this makes it easier for them to get away with their switcheroo, but on the other hand, it's not too fun to come from an unloving home.

Luckily she had her story planned. Looking up, she shrugged, her face a little sad. "He forgets, you see, I don't think he's ever been able to tell my brother and I […] apart." (2.210-212)

The sad thing about this exchange between Alanna and Duke Gareth is that Gareth totally buys Alanna's lie, because remembers Lord Alan from his time in the palace back in the day. To him, it seems like a totally realistic scenario for Lord Alan to not be able to tell his sons apart. That's a plus for Alanna getting away with her masquerade, but a definite minus for her sense of familial love.

"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." (3.205)

Insulting someone's family is great way to tick them off, especially if they're noble (what with duty and honor and all that junk). That's why Alanna is sure to insult Ralon's family while challenging him to a fight in order to restore her own honor: there's no chance he could refuse after she badmouths his family.

Lianne went to the sleeping Jonathan, taking his hand. Her eyes were bright with tears. "He's all we have, Alan. I can't—I am unable to bear any more children." (4.127)

Even the royal family has their share of troubles. That's a bummer because otherwise the king and queen seem really nice, plus we already know and like Jonathan. And it's an extra bummer since their family seems really functional, so any more kids that they would have would probably grow up in a healthy, happy, and safe environment.

George's voice was low. "Would you have me deny the lad his heart's desire? That care-for-naught he calls Father will never get him a proper mount." (5.155)

Sometimes your family is utterly inadequate to the task of caring for you, and that's when you hope that you have "family of choice," a.k.a. the people you would've picked for your family if you'd have any say in the matter. George certainly steps up and cares for Alanna when her father can't or won't.

"I know just the lady—she was a priestess in the Temple of the Mother here in the City before she married, got trained there. She's my own mother. She wouldn't talk if you pried her jaws apart." (6.20)

For being the King of Thieves, George is pretty trustworthy. Given how he characterizes his mother someone who wouldn't talk under any circumstances, we suspect that circumspection runs in that family.

"I'm not displeased that you and Myles are friends. It's good for you to have an older man to talk to. If your own father had any—" He stopped short. (6.110)

Duke Gareth is a serious dude who thinks over his words before speaking them, so for him to flub by openly criticizing Alanna's father for being distant—well, that shows how much Duke Gareth is bothered by it. We don't see much of Duke Gareth's relationship with his son Gary, but they both seem like decent, well-adjusted human beings, so we're gonna say that Duke Gareth isn't too happy about seeing "Alan" abandoned by his only parent.

Not even Roger would have the nerve, and the coldness, to send his young cousin to certain death—would he? (6.311)

Before the trip to the Black City, Alanna knows that she dislikes Duke Roger, but she doesn't suspect him of treachery. Well, not quite. That's crazy talk, right? Who would kill their cousin for a shot at the throne? (Ahem, Duke Roger.)

"But we have trained our young to be honest…Those who leave us for the cities go with their families' blessings—or curses—but they always tell us that is where they go. Those who want the Black City speak only of it, as if they could not lie about it if they tried." (7.57)

No sneaking out at night in the Bazhir culture. Nope. Bazhir kids tell their parents exactly what they're going to do—even if the parents don't like it. Think about that next time you tell your parents you're "just going to Kayleigh's to do math homework" at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night.

"Now that I do not believe," he said sternly. "Roger is my only cousin and one of my best friends. He would never—never—do the thing you're suggesting, Alanna." (7.250)

Jonathan is such a family man that he doesn't believe Roger would ever do anything to harm him … even though Roger is next in line to be heir to the throne. Hm. Sounds fishy to us, but we get where Jonathan's coming from: it's hard to think bad things about your family.

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