Hey, Shmoopers. You know, we'll never be royals, but it's cool. We can still live that fantasy, thanks to Tamora Pierce. The medieval society she creates Alanna: The First Adventure is heavy on class distinctions—just like a real medieval society. You're either born a noble or you're not, commoners are destined to lead lives of hard labor, and all that good stuff. Since Alanna is noble-born, her life is pretty sweet: she's well-fed, well-clothed, and well-educated. But class issues still make their way into her life in other ways. She has to learn the right etiquette while at Court, and she discovers when becoming friends with Jonathan (the crown prince) that being royalty can be a royal pain. At the same time, Alanna is buddies with George, King of Thieves (hint: it's not an inherited position). Because of this friendship, Alanna also learns to see life from the less-privileged point of view. And being able to navigate situations among different social classes helps make Alanna one of the most popular nobles around.
Questions About Society and Class
What is Alanna's reaction upon first meeting the crown prince? Why does she react this way?
How does social class in Tortall work? What kind of restrictions are on there on mingling with people who aren't in your social class?
Do the thieves and poor people have their own kind of society? Why or why not?
How much of noble life is spent in the pursuit of social status and proper behavior? What kinds of status-seeking behavior do we see people doing?
Chew on This
We encounter mostly upper-class characters in the book, because their lives are more interesting.
The best characters in the book don't care about social class. Only people like Duke Roger and Ralon are status-conscious.