You know I used to love Tamora Pierce books when I was younger and adored that they were all about strong women and multi faceted women and now I realize that they’re basically the poster child of white feminism?
All four of the main heroes (This is going off of the Tortall books only) are white and average looking, if not more than that. Three out of the four protagonists are nobles and come from wealth. Most of the main characters in all the books except Trickster are also white.
Not to mention all the stories get packaged at the end with a nice romance and marriage and children. (Except Kel) Beka randomly marries Farmer and wants children. Alanna randomly marries George and wants children. Aly marries Nawat and has children.
Everything ends so perfectly. All the main characters are a little samey in that way. I just can’t enjoy them as much as I used to.
Daine is explicitly (and confirmed by Pierce as) mixed race, and there’s (iirc) room in the text to read George as non-white and/or mixed and thus Aly as some flavor of mixed, as well. It may also be worth noting that all the protagonists are surrounded by people, including women, who are not white and are major characters on their own, not that that invalidates your point.
Three of the five protagonists are nobles and come from wealth — Beka and Daine are not and do not.
I can completely understand not going for the romance and marriage plus children ending most of them get; that’s totally fair and up to your taste in books. Emelan is, indeed, more progressive in all of these categories.
Hi, yeah, um I specifically stated I was talking about the Tortall series of books which include Trickster, Beka Cooper, Protector of the Small, and Alanna the Lioness. Besides all the raka characters in Trickster, there are not many explicitly non-white characters in the books. The most notable being the Bahzir in Woman Who Rides Like a Man.
Also the characters are all typical ‘strong female’ characters. The only one who really differs from that is Aly. They’re all strong physically and good at fighting and hobbling and running. All traditionally ‘masculine’ things. I like Aly the best though seeing as she’s got smarts and spy skills as well so she’s different.
They’ve also got a lot of harmful ‘white savior’ tropes like how Alanna saved the Bahzir from the evil shaman and from the black city and all that shit. And how Aly basically saved the raka from enslavement and being the inferior race.
There may be room to read George as mixed race but Aly is described as pale skinned. My points are very valid as a criticism of Pierce’s work and a comparison drawn to white feminism.
Except Daine is part of the Tortall series. Her books are set between Alanna and Kel. There are quite a few explicitly non-white characters in the Tortall books.
Alanna: Thayet, Buri, potential to read George as mixed race (which, despite the kids being white passing, would still make them also mixed), Hakim Fahrar, Mari Fahrar, Halef Seif, Hassam ibn Farid, Kara, Kourrem, Ali Mukhtab, Akhnan ibn Nazzir, Alexander of Tirragen, Farda, Ishak, Kylaia al Jmaa (the Shang Unicorn) is mentioned by Liam to Alanna. She has her own short story.
Daine: Daine, Numair, Onua, Kaddar, Weiryn, Harailt of Aili, Daine and Numair’s children (Sarralyn and Rikash), Sarge, Ozorne, Tano
Kel: Lalasa, Gower (I don’t think this is ever actually confirmed though), Zahir, Eda Bell, Hakiun Seastone, Seaver of Tasride, Qasim, Shinkokami, Yukimi, Prince Eitaro.
Aly: Dove, Sairai, Sarugani, Topabaw, Zaimid, Boulaj, Chenaol, Junim Crow, Nawat Crow, Ochobai Crow, Ulasu Crow, Junai, Ochobu, Ulasim, Ekit, Hasui, Jafana, Lokeij, Rihani, Vereyu, Visda, Fesago, Ysul. And like, countless others.
Beka: Tunstall, Okha, Jurji.
Gods who aren’t white: Mithros the Sun God, the Trickster, the Graveyard Hag, Weiryn, Jaguar Goddess, Chavi West-Wind, Sakuyo, Shai South-Wind, Yahzed, Yama, Oinomi Wavewalker, Vau East-Wind, Lushagui, Bian North-Wind. There’s also a goddess which Lokeij mentions and compares Sarai to, but I can’t remember her full name. Gunapi the sun rose? I think.
Don’t forget about Tortall and Other Lands, the book of short stories.
So I’m not trying to say that there aren’t problems with the books, because there are, like the white saviour tropes which you mentioned, but you’ve only included four series, when there are five (so far).
In reality it’s more like: there are five female protagonists. Four of them are white, one of them is mixed race. Three of them are from nobility, two of them are not. Of the three who are nobility, one of the lines is of old wealth, one of them was newly raised to a barony, and can only just about pay for everything of this higher station. There are lots of characters in the books who are not white, as well as some that are white.
Some of the characters find romance, some of them don’t. Alanna has two other relationships before she decides that the man she wants to be with is George, and she changes her mind from when she was 12 years old that she wants children.
Daine gets with Numair but waits until they’ve been together for 8 years to get married.
Kel experiences multiple crushes and one flings and ends the series alone.
Aly flrts with lots of boys, finds herself in a rebellion and gets with Nawat and has children.
Beka flirts with Rosto, has a fling with Dale, almost marries someone, and then ends up with Farmer (who takes her name).
Also, Daine is not the ‘strong female charater’ stereotype.
I think the books that have the worse cases of white feminism are Song of the Lioness, and a lot of the reason for that is because they were written in the 80s. A lot has changed in 30 years, and Tamora Pierce is no exception. That’s pretty much my only contribution to this argument, other than Tammy on Tumblr is literally the best and her willingness to learn from past mistakes and improve on what she’s writing is the primary reason I love her, her books and anything she’ll write in the future.
I won’t repeat any of the other stuff people have already used to shut this post down but I wanna add:
Alanna is strong because she WAS small and scrawny and she worked her ass off to fix that. She will always be small. Kel is often described as too big to be pretty and other shit like that (by people like her sisters in law, I believe?) and she also works at her strength because both Alanna and Kel are trying to compete in a male dominated area. They worked for every muscle, and one is smaller than usual and one is bigger than usual and as a girl who was tall and sturdy for a lot of her childhood Kel being this tree trunk of a girl was SO IMPORTANT to me.
Daine has worked at being a good shot but she’s not like SUPER STRONG or anything, she needed to learn to shoot and she did.
Beka and Aly also trained to get as strong as they are, Beka running across all of the Lower City, and doing training both before she became a Dog and afterwards. Also, she’s in fights like every night. So that fitness and strength grows on itself.
Alianne was less conventionally trained but she is constantly sparring and she mentions being taught by her dad about fighting and other stuff.
Every single one of these girls worked hard to get as strong as they are and discrediting this by saying that they all just fit the ‘strong heroine’ stereotype is so frustrating and basically takes all the struggle out of Alanna and Kel’s first two books, especially.
(Also Beka’s biggest thing to conquer is her shyness which is such a cool hurdle to see a heroine fight with and I loved that level of her story as well. And that isn’t at all common to see in heroes)
Yes, all of this. I just want to throw in, in addition to Beka’s social anxiety (which until Tammy says otherwise is how I’m going to personally read it because that makes her a character representing a portion of the population with mental illness! That affects every day life for a lot of people! Including me! And while it’s seen as frustrating due to her inability to speak out in court readings in the beginning her friends and everyone support her and she learns to cope with it and that is so not a typical strong female thing and it means so incredibly much to me), Daine’s story is, to me, more about acceptance: accepting yourself above all. Poor girl went mad, essentially lost her humanity, ran away and tried to hide it, finds out she has magic! When her mum’d been testing her for ages, and learns to use that and makes all these amazing friends and learns how to behave herself in court (sortof). There’s a lot, lot of action of in her books but I definitely think they’re a lot more about conquering her inner demons and hurdles (ie, I’m mad or how does my magic work or how can I let these animals fight for us when it’s not their battle).
(Also I love Farmer and I don’t feel it was weird for Beka because her journal is supposed to be a memory exercise for WORK and CASE RELATED stuff so obviously she wasn’t going tobe like OH SIGH AND FARMER IS SOOO CUTE AND CLEVER I WANNA PINCH HIS BUTT, their first kiss: I was rooting for it to happen without even realizing I was invested in their relationship which I think is really good and realistic because sometimes these things just happen)
(Also Beka is a survivor of an unstable household where at least her mother was physically abused, which just witnessing can affect a kid, and then got through an abusive relationship on her own in a really realistic way and if that’s not the realest shit I don’t know what is)
Also just because the Alanna series was written in the 80’s it doesn’t excuse the white savior-ness of it, that’s something that I feel we as a fandom should definitely actively discuss while listening carefully to the POC in the fandom. They have the most important and relevant opinion in that matter, in Alanna’s and Aly’s books. These books are still being read today, therefor they should be critiqued today. In today’s society, because that’s where we are now.
I also want to add, real fast, that Kora, in the Beka Cooper series, is described as mixed. When Beka is describing Aniki, Roso, and Kora to Goodwin, and just for her own records in her journal, she cites that Aniki and Rosto both look Scanran, but Kora looks to be of mixed descent. I only add this because in the list of POC characters in Beka, she’s not included.
Also, Beka also mentions in Terrier that she’s been with other men before meeting Rosto. And her settling down with Farmer was not out of character. Just like her dating Dale wasn’t out of character(a large complaint I’ve seen about Bloodhound). A woman settling down and having children doesn’t diminish any of their accomplishments as independent women.
(Beka is the only Tortall book I’ve read at this point..so..yeah…)
I think one of the things that leaves Z3 being my least favorite of the Zenon trilogy is because Protozoa was seen as the “has been” artist. Like, it’s only been 2 years, there would have been at least some people attending Moon Stock who would know him.
Also…I just love Protozoa..it doesn’t make me happy that he’s not as big in this movie..
(Also..the change in actor for Protozoa also makes it be at the bottom of my list for the Zenon trilogy.)
He barks and barks in my parents room, I’m assuming in his bed. My dad puts him out into the hallway, telling me to deal with him.
As soon as I pick him up..he falls asleep. Now he’s sleeping next to me on the couch.