zodiacal_light: I will tell the audient void... [fractal] (the audient void)
Since I really, really don't want to get tangled in an argument there, I will post my thoughts here. EDIT: Grar, ok, fine, I'm posting there. This whole issue annoys me too much for me to leave it be. *has no self-control, sigh*

Someone just posted that it's not just all girls (aside from very minor characters) who fight, but all the men, too.

First, we have a few more prominent examples of men who don't fight (though again, we don't know they can't). I'm thinking here largely of Duke Baird, and we get a whole slew of background men in the form of the Mithrans. Hell, there's Thom, too. I'd bet that on the whole we get more male background characters who don't fight but are good than background female characters who don't at least want to. Part of that's because of the fact that these books - even the ones that aren't about female knights, for some reason - tend to be set in a "man's world". Which, incidentally, is something I despise, especially when there's no reason for it (like in the Daine books).

Second, it doesn't change the fact that these books are girl-centric, and sending the message to people that girls are only worthwhile if they fight is still a problem; if it's true that all the guys are also only worthwhile if they fight (which it isn't), that message is still a problem, just a bigger one.

You know the only good female characters who don't fight and aren't condescended to that I can think of? Tian, Adalia, and Oranie. Adalia and Oranie show up in one scene; we don't see Tian much more often. (I don't count Kara and Kourrem because the book is explicit that being a Bazhir shaman means you do fight, even though we never to my knowledge see them fighting. Varice and Sarra don't count because the text is very condescending towards them both; Maura is arguably either a character who does fight, or falls into the same category as Varice and Sarra.)

Compare that to the good men who don't fight: Duke Baird. A whole slew of Mithran masters. Si-cham. Arguably, Thom. I won't, out of fairness, count any man who's been knighted, even if they seem to be averse to fighting, so I won't count King Roald or Myles.

Bottom line: it doesn't even compare. Pierce seems to feel far more free, in Tortall, to create peace-loving or non-fighting men than peace-loving, non-fighting women. Any woman who's on the side of good and non-fighting is explicitly treated in a condescending manner, in a way that no non-fighting man is. (Edit: Aside from King Roald, who is treated like an idiot because he explicitly tries for peace. Which just feeds into the whole nasty "fighting is awesome!" subtext that I'm really starting to loathe.)

...There's something deeply wrong, there. As far as I'm concerned, it's still sexist if you say that the only way for women to be worthwhile is to know how to fight. It's not empowering at all, just a new twist on the same old "women must be THIS way, but men have choices" crap.

If Pierce were doing that deliberately, to build up some subtle statement on such sexism, I would be thrilled. Unfortunately, given how the text reads and how her comments read, I doubt very much that's the case.

ETA: It occurred to me, belatedly, that we also have the interesting case of Neal, who had a different and noncombatant career path before switching to knighthood. And he is the only fighter in the series whose decision to fight is legitimately questioned, who is treated as if doing something other than fighting would be just as legitimate a choice.

And he's, well, male. We never get that grace for a woman in the series - the message for women is "fight, or we'll make you, or you're not worthwhile".

You can contrast him a bit with Lalasa, actually; Lalasa, in a series of cringeworthy scenes that I never reread, is forced to learn to fight, even though she doesn't want to, and when she does learn and starts teaching others, this is treated like how things should be and the text explicitly starts portraying Lalasa as a strong, worthwhile person, as opposed to the caricatured meekness we first meet.

Neal, on the other hand, also initially didn't want to fight, and changed his mind and learned to do so. But he is treated as if he would have been just as worthy a person as a healer, whereas Lalasa is very clearly shown to be not really a worthwhile person until she can fight.

Lalasa also bothers me because here we get another warped aesop, that shows up in more minor ways with Daine and Maura and Kel's ... aunt? I think? - If you're a woman and don't fight, circumstances will conspire to make you, or you will be victims of circumstance.

With men, the message is: you can fight, or not, as you will. Go for it.

That is wrong. I can't even express how repugnant I find that. It's like rape "advice" that tells women they must be scared and know martial arts and carry pepper spray and a gun.

I think I would only ever recommend the Tortall books to people with a good head on their shoulders and a good grasp of such issues. That saddens me - I do like these books - but I have serious moral issues with them that are only becoming clearer the more I poke at the books.
zodiacal_light: In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming... (cthulhu)

Why do people act like King Roald is an idiot? People over on glake are so derisive of him for being a peacemaker - what, that's a bad thing? Silly me, here I thought things like peace and diplomacy were good.

It's bad enough the text is incredibly condescending towards him for being a peacemaker and not a warmonger. Am I the only one who thinks he probably had to be, after Jasson's wars of expansion?

...I kinda want to do an AU now where King Roald continues Jasson's policies, and ends up tearing Tortall apart, but I don't think I could do it justice and I'm not sure I have much interesting to say.

I think the recent threads on glake have convinced me to give up on it once and for all. I'll probably pop in to see the new prompts, but the sheer idiocy over there recently is astounding. I thought better of that place, but at least I'll spare my blood pressure. I shouldn't have commented today, but I am, apparently, constitutionally incapable of not replying to utter morons.

But back to Roald. There are only two things he does that could be construed as stupid - his presumed suicide, and his not letting the pages study magic sooner, and in both cases we don't know what's going on there. We don't know for sure Roald did commit suicide - only that he'd missed a jump he'd made before, and Jon thought he'd killed himself. On the magic - we don't know his reasoning, or if it was even at Roald's direction that magic wasn't taught to pages. It could have been longstanding policy. It could have been at the discretion of the training master, in which case it would have been on Gareth's shoulders. We don't know, and so I'm not willing to call a man stupid over ... one debatably bad policy. Concerning pages.

But what really pisses me off is that neither of those examples are why people on glake have decided Roald is stupid. They've decided he's stupid because he's a peacemaker.

Am I the only person who thinks that's fucked up?
zodiacal_light: In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu lies dreaming... (cthulhu)
You know one of the argument techniques that drives me nuts? When you make an argument - Good women in Tortall fight, say - and someone throws out a minor character who doesn't (that we see, anyway), and declares that this makes your argument invalid.


Look. When I'm arguing a trend exists, pointing to very minor characters as exceptions to the trend doesn't mean the trend doesn't exist. If anything, it proves my point, when the only characters you can find that don't fit the trend I mentioned are incredibly minor - or when you have to twist facts to have examples.

Also, I am really wishing people on glake would verify their facts before spouting off at the mouth. Uline does like to fight, folks, she's one of the Queen's Ladies.

For the record, the following characters do fight (or are known to) in canon: Eleni, Winna, Nuritin, Sarai, Dove, Lalasa, Uline, Maura, the refugees. Varice and Sarra are not exceptions to the trend, because the text is explicitly condescending to both of them. Kara and Kourrem are implied to fight later, because one of the specific jobs of a Bazhir shaman is to fight off attacking mages - this is specifically stated in the text, though admittedly, since we never see Kara and Kourrem as shamans on their own, I don't think we ever see them fight. But, incidentally, the way their magics are described, we know damn well they both can.

ETA: [personal profile] carmarthen has just reminded me that Kara and Kourrem help Alanna fight off the hillmen. So no, they're not exceptions to the trend, and no, you can't argue that they only do it under duress, given that this is a recognized part of their job.

Characters who are too minor to really buck the trend: Adalia and Oranie.

If I have to explain this again, I am going to blow a gasket.


Jan. 8th, 2011 04:07 pm
zodiacal_light: A map of Tortall (tortall)
I like Numair.

There's a dissonance in the books, between how characters act and how the text treats them. I'm pretty sure this has come up in every one of these posts, and it will continue to. It is rarely more clear, imo, than with Numair.

Pierce seems to act, randomly, like Numair is some flighty, immature mage. But, aside from one really out-of-character scene in early PotS (one that seriously makes me wonder if he has a special little garden somewhere), we're not shown that - and what we know of his history makes it unlikely that he would be either flighty or immature.

You can't really be either and successfully escape from the Emperor Mage of Carthak, or survive on the streets of Tortall - or, for that matter, be a mage as powerful as Numair is without blowing your ass up.

This is why, incidentally, Pierce's flippant explanation for why Daine and Numair are soulmates bothers me so damn much - Daine in the books reads very immature to me ... and Numair doesn't read particularly immature at all. I sometimes wonder if Pierce honestly knows her own characters, or pays any attention to what the hell she writes.

The most glaring example of the textual dissonance, for any character, occurs in WM. The setup for it is this: Daine, ignorant of what she's doing, uses meditation on a whim to stop her heart. And Numair yells at her for this - and not particularly nastily, either.

...And every. single. character. in that scene makes some comment belittling his anger, and talking about how utterly unreasonable it is. Daine even makes some condescending (but, admittedly, in-character for a bratty teen) comment about not being able to talk to him with "this pet he's in".

All I could think about, for that whole scene, was that Numair was right to yell at Daine. Sometimes, especially when dealing with potentially dangerous crafts - and what is more dangerous than magic? - you have to yell. I've been yelled at, a lot, for doing stupid shit when crafting ... and no, ignorance is no excuse. She stopped her heart because she wanted to hear the whales. Daine damn well deserves at least a round of yelling ... but when Numair does this, the text unambiguously and emphatically sides against him, in a way that makes it abundantly clear that Pierce wants us to see Numair as unreasonable and his anger as over-the-top and silly.

Um. No.

This is why I find it hard to talk about her characters, and why I find these posts, frustrating as they are, valuable. It's almost like there are two characters (or more): the one who shines through in action, and the one(s) we're told via text (or deuterocanon) exists. There's the flawed (and more interesting, imo) Alanna you see if you look at her actions - and there's the perfect and frankly Sue-ish Alanna of the text/deuterocanon. Sometimes, there's a third version, the ideal, like we see with Daine: there's the not-really-all-that-nice Daine evidenced by her actions, the text!Daines who are all some variant of Awesome Ecowarrior after WM, and this shadowy Platonic form of Daine, who I can sort of see when I think through what Pierce was likely trying to do with her (and failing, imo).

We get the show/tell split with Numair, pretty explicitly. What we see of how Numair acts doesn't match what the text tries to tell us, or what Pierce tries to tell us. I keep pointing to that Daine-stops-her-heart scene because it's only the most obvious instance of this dissonance that I see: I don't see an unreasonable man at all.

As an aside, I'm sick of Pierce belittling male anger, not least because she sets up this male anger bad/female anger good split that ends up belittling female anger too, by making it just some cute personality trait, and not a flaw for women. Look. I know that too often in fiction and real life female anger is belittled - hello, I'm a temperamental female, I've experienced that often. But the solution is not to then go "Ha! I will belittle MALE anger instead, and make female anger always cute and righteous!"

I don't like hard dualism in any form. I also don't agree with any form of feminism that utilizes dualism at all - and Pierce's morals in Tortall are very dualistic. This is a huge part of why I also get so damn frustrated that all good women in Tortall can fight somehow; it's fine and laudable to say that women can fight, but it's a really warped aesop to take it as far as Pierce does, and say that to be a good/worthwhile woman you must fight.

...And I'll leave that for the Varice post, and get back to Numair.

Ok, head-canon. Most of this will be jossed when the Numair book comes out, I'm sure.
-The Numair we see in canon is largely a facade. He's still a nice guy, but his real personality is not all that jokesterish, and he's got a dark side. (I wish people in canon actually had dark sides... *sigh*)
-Numair, power-wise, is not much more powerful than Roger and Thom, if he's more powerful at all. It's more that he has a ton of esoteric knowledge, thanks to the Carthaki university, that they don't.
-Numair's Gift either was always black with sparkles (gah) or, if I actually use Pierce's incredibly stupid deuterocanon, it changed color from amber because the uni students learned ways to recolor their Gifts, not because he's so uber-powerful or any shit like that.
-If Numair recolored his Gift, his grandma gave him hell for it.
-Numair has a scary grandma.
-Numair is much more loyal to Tyra than Jon - or Daine, for that matter - realizes. I'm working on an AU where he's actually a Tyran agent, but even in canon or non-badass-Tyra fics, I still see him as being very strongly loyal to his home country ... and not really all that happy with being the pet mage of another monarch, though it's better than life on the streets.
-Numair was living on the streets for longer than just a few months. (Where the hell did that fanon convention come from, anyway?)
-Numair had to flee Carthak because he refused to do battle magic for Ozorne.
-Numair's bisexual, and may have had a not-terribly-good-but-he-was-young-and-clueless relationship with Ozorne. If he did, he cottoned on to how awful and manipulative Ozorne was around the time he fled.
-Numair has trouble saying no to women when they proposition him. This is literally the only explanation I can swallow for why he marries a former student who has nothing more than a major crush on him. Well, the only explanation that doesn't make him basically predatory.
-Numair falls out of love with Daine really fast, though he won't leave her or the kids.
-Numair and Onua are really good friends. Onua is actually his best friend, which he'd tell you if you asked.
-Numair is a verbose and sometimes morose drunk, and his reflexes get faster when tipsy ... because he usually moves slower than he could, which is a street magician's trick.
-Actually, I'm wrong. There's another potential explanation for him marrying Daine I can sort of buy, but it requires me to assume things about godborns that aren't at all evidenced in the text - and that's that, basically, he sort of has to to keep her from going on a Carthaki-palace-style rampage when she's refused. GOD, Daine/Numair is so squicky and wrong and out-of-character for Numair, and it's pretty sad when the only way to make your wondrous love match work is to assume that one or the other partner is morally fucked up. Either Numair's a predator, or Daine's hugely unbalanced. THANKS, Pierce. (This is why in most of my fics, Daine/Numair never happens. I can't square it with their characters.)
-Numair likes needling Jon and Alanna. Jon's wise to it, but Alanna never quite catches on that it's deliberate.
-This isn't quite head-canon, but I've toyed with the idea that a young Numair has already enacted the necessary magics for the Sorcerer's Sleep, and so if Numair is ever killed, there's potential for a Roger-style resurrection. Zombie!Numair may not be insane if this happens, but his Gift would go back to its natural color.
-Another not-quite-head-canon bit: I toy with the idea that it wasn't the simulacrum that died, but the real Numair. It would be a neat, if dark, way to explain away Numair's out-of-character reciprocation of Daine's crush in RotG, and Numair's ooc flightiness in early PotS.
-Young Numair was actually not all that fond of Lindhall, until things went to hell with Ozorne and Lindhall got him the hell out of the country. Now Lindhall's his favorite teacher ever.
-Young Numair was a hell of a brat, and prone to pranking his teachers. Really unsubtly, too. This is directly responsible for why young Numair's not fond of Lindhall. XD
-If Numair had stayed in Carthak, he would have married Varice. They were genuinely in love.


My Fics
Canon compliant:
Her - Numair learns the hard way not to go pub-crawling with Lindhall.
Love Consumes All Things - Ozorne has only ever had one great love in his life.
Traitors and Monsters - Ozorne and Arram. Sometimes, falling in love is the start of the whole downfall.

Allegiance AU:
Difference - Daine comes to Tortall. Things are different, in this world.

Making the Best of Things AU:
So far, Numair's a pretty minor character in this 'verse, but he does show up in the following two fics.
Some People - Ten people who weren't ever wary of Thom, and one person who should've been.
Weird Folk - Ten friends Daine makes in Tortall.

What a Flicker Brings AU:
Numair becomes a major character in this 'verse.
Never - Thom never asks Numair what he sees in the charms.
Old Ghosts - Numair never looks Thom in the eye.
Fools in Love - Daine asks an impertinent question.
The Way to His Heart - Numair can cook a grand total of three things.
Nine Clues - Nine ways Thom knows Numair is just as broken as he is. Spoilers for an in-progress fic.
Reasons - Numair is a silly romantic, which makes him way too easy to tease.


Jan. 7th, 2011 07:07 pm
zodiacal_light: A map of Tortall (tortall)
This is the one post I was dreading the most, and the reason I've not posted more head-canon stuff is that I sort of feel like I ought to get through the heroines, more or less, first. (Well, except for Thom, and Numair's the next post slated.)

I love the concept of Daine. I like her a lot in WM, and I think she's a fine secondary character in later canon.

I cannot stand the later three books of her quartet, and she is a large part of why. (The really horribly done cutesy animals are the rest of the reason. WM gave me hope; WS took it all away again.)

First, what I like. I like the sweet, somewhat shy commoner of WM. I like how in WM we see how she has troubles identifying with humans, and overidentifying with animals, and it's all treated like just more, well, problems that she'll have to overcome. (Numair's random curing her madness was a touch too pat for my tastes, but bearable, especially since WM makes it pretty clear it doesn't cure her of her identification issues.) I love the idea of her magic, and watching her tentatively explore it was hella fun.

And then boom, in WS, we no longer have Daine, we have Generic Spunky Heroine (Ecowarrior Subtype). There is no progression from Daine in WM to Daine in WS, psychologically; nothing that we're shown. If there is one thing I absolutely demand in stories, it's a sense of psychological realism; I can assume a lot, but you can't just expect me to assume necessary character growth. I have to see it, and we never do with Daine, not between any of her many changes.

Let me interject here: I am passionately, rabidly environmentalist (though of the "use all of the animal and kill it humanely" subset). But if there's one thing I loathe in fiction, it's the ecowarrior, especially the one who Has A Magic Bond With Nature. Daine in WM was most definitely not this; her overidentifying with animals was a problem. In WS, we suddenly get a really obnoxious aspect of Later Daine: her overidentifying with animals leads to her fucking up with humans - and the narrative treats this all as totally right.

We see this same obnoxious trait over and over again in EM, where Daine repeatedly does things that jeopardize the diplomatic party of which she's a part. She may not be an official negotiator, but you know what? That doesn't matter. There are standards of behavior expected of all members of a diplomatic party, and Daine's not excused just because she's "only" there for the Emperor's birds.

Later Daine is also incredibly judgmental. She (really rudely, esp. for a member of a diplomatic party) decides to teach the boys a lesson in EM - and I hated the sense that I was supposed to cheer her on, just like I hated the sense that I was supposed to root for Daine being an utter ass and jeopardizing the Dunlath mission because the wolves wouldn't understand. Daine, honey, that's what explanations are for.

Most irritatingly, Daine is incredibly judgmental towards Varice. This bugs me greatly for reasons I'll expand upon in a Varice post, but what really irks me is how the text gives Daine what's supposed to be this character-growth moment where Daine realizes she's being judgmental ... except Daine comes off as incredibly condescending. And she's condescending towards her mother, too.

Daine, to me, is the most Sue-ish of Pierce's heroines after Aly. (All Pierce's heroines are Sue-ish. It is, admittedly, part of being a hero ... except Pierce's heroines never really struggle, and are never really wrong. Unconvincing lip service is paid to both notions, and it's never really less convincing than here with Daine.)

Daine being godborn just felt really tacked on, and irked me. Pierce has this trend, with Tortall, of never really being able to write commoners without making them noble or better; the only two commoners, eventually, are Daine and Numair - and Daine's (unconvincingly) godborn, and Numair is so damn powerful and such a fixture of Jon's court that he might as well be noble.

I also loathe to no end Daine/Numair. Honestly, I knew pretty early on that Daine had a crush on Numair, but it never ever felt like real love to me, even though all of the fourth book was contrived to take Daine and Numair away from the main action and force them into a really squicky romance. (It's not the age gap that bothers me, so much - it's that RotG reads like she's still his student. And it all still reads as a crush.)

This is all probably why I have a tendency to break up Daine and Numair in my fics, or never have the relationship form; I see it only forming under really contrived circumstances. Also, no matter what Pierce says, Daine is not mature for her age; she's really rather immature.

Daine/Numair is like Alanna/Jon - they don't really click, and the relationship is bad for both parties. With Alanna/Jon, Pierce actually took a step back and really thought about it, and broke them up; I wish she'd had the insight to do that to Daine and Numair.

...I just realized another reason Daine/Numair squicks me: Numair is just about the only person Daine hangs out with, after WM where she spends time with Onua. Sure, lip service is paid to Daine still working with Onua later - but we never, ever see that again. It's the Daine and Numair show, and it creates this feeling that Daine is only ever around him. The world of TIQ is really claustrophobic, basically, and Daine/Numair is now starting to seem incredibly creepy to me.

Daine, by the way, is superb with a bow, which feels very Sue-ish, the way it's handled. She's the commoner girl SO GOOD she leaves everyone in awe - oh, please. (Incidentally, anyone else note that throughout the Tortall books, it's the ladies who don't/won't/can't fight who get scorn and condescension? The Tortall books are very clear: girls, if you don't want to fight, you're useless and silly.)

And, lastly, I hate the dehumanization of people in the later books. "Two-legger" sets my teeth on edge; calling all the animals "The People" and acting like they're more worthwhile than humans drives me nuts. In WM it was interesting because Daine's tendency to do this was treated like a problem, which it damn well is. The later books throw that all right out the window and expect us to be on Daine's side on all of this - sorry, no. Humanity will always come first for me, and I find the dehumanization we see in TIQ morally repugnant.

Also, wtf is up with acting like humans aren't animals? Or acting like animals are all morally right and wouldn't understand attacking others of their own kind? And while we're at it, can Daine's magic please stop randomly changing to fit the plot? And could more animals than rats hate her, or be suspicious of her? Also, it'd be lovely to see some kind of animal that she can't control; her perfect ability to control all vertebrates is a large part of what makes her so Sue-ish.

OMFG, how did I forget the one thing that made me start actively disliking Later Daine? The fucking temper tantrum she throws in the Carthaki palace. You cannot convince me no one died in that dinosaur rampage; you cannot convince me that the devastation she wreaked was justified. Why did she pitch such a colossal fit? She thought Numair was executed. Okay, you know what? I can understand that, especially for someone who really isn't shown to have much of a moral compass beyond "whatever the animals want is awesome!".

Then the text turns it into a joke. Daine is worried people back home might be upset; every Tortallan in the envoy is all "don't worry about it at all, dear, it's just a story to them". Kaddar and the text act like it's amusing that anyone could possibly want Daine punished for destroying the Carthaki palace, killing God knows how many people, while part of a diplomatic envoy suing for peace. Um. Am I the only one who wonders why it's so cute and okay and funny for Our Heroine to destroy a palace, when it was so Hideous and Awful when a certain smiling duke tried that in Corus?

Let me stop while I'm ahead and simply say that any argument that hinges on Daine being forced to by the Hag, or being distraught, or any other such excuse that lets her off the hook for her actions does. not. work. for me - unless you are willing to make the same excuse for Roger, who was out of his fucking mind at the time. I'm sorry, but madness is more justifiable for me than a fit of temper. Oooh, gee, Numair died. Well, honey, what are you going to do when he eventually does buy the farm? Trash Corus if he died in bed? Rip another country to shreds if he dies on a mission?

The Daine who throws that temper fit I unabashedly hate. If it weren't for the fact that her character as written is so damn disjointed that I can't really connect the Daines of each book, it would ruin her character for me entirely.

I have no head-canon for Daine, other than that I'm starting to become convinced she's some kind of sociopath, and I'm starting to become more and more certain that her marriage with Numair falls apart real fast. (I suspect she'd just take off one day and leave him with the kids. I ... don't really see her being mature enough to raise them.)

I want to reiterate: I really like the idea of Daine. I like to explore her interactions with characters not named Numair in fics; I like to see how my AUs would affect her plot. I think her story and character were horribly mishandled, and part of what angers me so much with the later three books is that I can almost see what Pierce was going for - and it fails miserably for me.


My Fics
Canon compliant:
None yet.

Allegiance AU:
Difference - Daine comes to Tortall. Things are different, in this world.

Making the Best of Things AU:
Weird Folk - Ten friends Daine makes in Tortall.

Snake in the Grass AU:
Daine is an important secondary character in the foundation fic for this 'verse.
The Morning Star - Thom is stuck visiting his family at the Swoop when a certain fleet attacks it.

What a Flicker Brings AU:
Daine becomes a pretty major secondary character in this 'verse.
Fools in Love - Daine asks an impertinent question.
The Way to His Heart - Numair can cook a grand total of three things.


Dec. 28th, 2010 02:49 pm
zodiacal_light: A map of Tortall (tortall)
Of all the Tortall series, I fic most for SotL, so I have to spend a lot of time thinking about Alanna. After Kel, she's my favorite of the heroines, but I always feel at least a little bad writing her - it always feels like I'm taking something away from her, because I mostly write AUs, and things go so ridiculously, implausibly perfectly for her in SotL that literally any change makes things start falling apart. (Not that this means her life in these AUs turns out bad, just different.)

So I guess, in retrospect, what bothers me most about Alanna is how contrived her life is by the end of SotL. Also, in getting my thoughts in order to make this post, I came to realize that I unabashedly like SotL-Alanna; it's the glimpses we see of her later that drive me nuts. She really starts going off the rails for me in that first scene in FT, where it seems she's almost become a parody of herself.

I don't find even early Alanna unproblematic, though. It bothers me endlessly that the story never grapples with her biggest flaws - her temper (which is treated as cute), her self-righteousness (she's always right), or her hypocrisy (she's all about duty, supposedly, yet repeatedly runs away and encourages others to do so). The story also never grapples with how her ambition and her drive are double-edged swords. I think that her being made Champion only serves to exacerbate these flaws, not temper them; I can think of few jobs she's more ill-suited to. I honestly think she would have been better served and even more useful as an ordinary knight.

This next thing is a problem I have with all the heroines, but I might as well mention it here: they never seem to lose anything, never seem to give anything up that actually matters. That's one of the reasons I'm so mean to Alanna in fic; I want to see what she'd do if she actually lost something - an opportunity, an accomplishment, a person who actually impacts her. I firmly believe that it's how we react to failure that really matters - but Alanna never really fails.

I am endlessly intrigued by the little glimpses of more depth to Alanna that we get in SotL - I am especially intrigued by her clear interest in the Old Ones and Myles' ruins, and I wish all that hadn't been dropped like a hot potato.

-A lot of Alanna's success is, actually, due to the fact she's god-touched. If nothing else, it's the only way I can satisfactorily explain away the progress reports.
-Alanna doesn't have a great relationship with her kids. At the least, it's a distant one fraught with a lot of misunderstanding. How bad it is, exactly, depends mostly on how angsty I feel like writing at the time.
-Jon only sent Alanna off on that diplomatic trip to Carthage because she was getting on his nerves and he wanted her gone for a while. (In fact, I think that explains everyone he sent, since that envoy's filled with a lot of dumb choices.)
-I sometimes like to think that later, if she ever actually matures a bit, Alanna ends up retiring from being Champion to take over Myles' role as history teacher. I liked the glimpses we saw of Alanna the teacher, though I think she'd be a shitty training master, and I liked the glimpses we got of Alanna being interested in history. (I can see basically two paths for Alanna - she never really grows up, and so never really retires, or she eventually learns to accept aging with grace and finds some other way to be useful.)
-She was never afraid of magic, but she used it as an excuse enough (because she didn't like practicing it) that she half believed it. Honestly, though - even before the Sickness she's awfully quick to threaten Coram with visions, and the whole thing with the cook's visions sounds far more Alanna-ish to me than Thom-ish, not least because she seems to be the more dynamic of the twins.
-She never had the best relationship with Thom, and is not entirely sure why. I see her as a rough-and-tumble girl, and there's that line about her ducking him in the pond that she uses to basically shut him up. I suspect that what she saw as just roughhousing he saw as bullying; I also think she sees him as somewhat pathetic. She really doesn't seem to think too highly of her brother in canon.
-Alanna thinks she got over Thom's death, but never really did. (Why yes, it does rather disturb me that in canon she seems to grieve more for Liam than her own brother.) I sort of suspect that she's used to pushing thoughts of her brother aside, even while he was alive, and she just does the same here and thinks she's over it. I also suspect this colors her relationship with her eldest, because superficially there's enough similarity there to raise all sorts of old ghosts. (Again, how deeply this taints Alanna's relationship with her son depends on how angsty I'm getting.)
-I'll get into this more in a later post on the kids, but I think Alanna feels that none of them turned out quite right; I also think the one she actually understands is Aly. Alan (even my happy version of him) deeply unsettles her; Thom is different and distant in ways she can't quite get.
-At some point in the ten-year gap between LR and WM, someone actually made Alanna get some more comprehensive/official training as a healer. (Honestly, in canon this bugs the SHIT out of me - all other healers we see in Tortall are trained; Alanna isn't, but somehow that's perfectly ok, she's just as good as the trained ones. See also: WWRLAM, and how barely-trained-in-magic Alanna is suddenly competent enough to be a Bazhir shaman and teacher of magic.) Either that, or somehow despite Alanna's apparently incredible reluctance to learn, Maude somehow forced her to learn enough healing that Alanna's actually qualified to do so.


My Alanna Fics
Alanna is a secondary or background character in a lot of my fics, and in compiling this list, I realized that I have written a lot of fics that are about her but do not have her in them. Those fics aren't linked below, only ones in which she is a major character.
Canon compliant:
Midwinter Tradition - It's Midwinter, and Alanna has someplace to be. So of course she has to kick Neal out of bed for it.

Canon-compliant but I consider it AU:
Red and Yellow - Jon really shouldn't have sent her to Carthak.

Miscellaneous AUs:
Kiss and Tell - Delia figures out a thing or two about Squire Alan. Could, with some juggling, be considered canon-compliant.
Song of the Seer - My first "the twins don't switch" fic. I am not nice to Alanna in this fic, at all.
Stricken to the Bone - Thom and Alanna both go for page training.

Allegiance AU:
Difference - Daine comes to Tortall. Things are different, in this world.

Discovery AU:
Discovery - Lord Alan gets two progress reports.

The Iron King AU:
This AU is all about Alanna, in a way, as it is her decision to marry Jon that starts the divergence. The only fic so far directly featuring Alanna is The Iron King.

Making the Best of Things AU:
Another series heavily featuring Alanna; the fics where she is a major or main character are the only ones listed below, but she shows up in others.
First Impressions - Jon and company meet Alanna.
Odd Couple - Francis attempts to woo his ladylove.
Burning Brightly - Jon attempts to clear out the Black City.
Heroism - the major Alanna fic in this 'verse. What happens to Alanna when she goes to convent instead.
Scrap of a Dream - Alanna dreams.

Patchwork AU:
Another AU that heavily features Alanna, though so far she only shows up in the founding fic. In this 'verse, the Grimhold Mountains are their own country, and Tortall itself is very small.
Ten Scenes from Another World - A short history lesson, and what happens when Tortall sends an embassy to Grimhold.

What a Flicker Brings AU:
This AU diverges because of and centers on Thom, but you can't really write any AU about Thom that doesn't heavily feature Alanna. She's central to these two stories in particular.
What a Flicker Brings - Thom gets a glimpse of the future in his mug.
Three Months - What happens during the time skip in What a Flicker Brings.


zodiacal_light: Humour: Because angst is not jolly. (Default)

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