"Too many books?" I believe the phrase you’re looking for is "not enough bookshelves".
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.
Agreed. Also I forgot Ahuda, how the fuck could I forget Ahuda.
Two things to add:
1) As a mixed race with light skin myself, I get very very annoyed when people automatically throw me in the “white” bucket. It’s not about appearances alone. Daine was a great heroine for me for many reasons….and her biracialism was one of those. (although this is in direct response to the quip about Aly being light skinned) (side note: i was asked once if my siblings and i came from different fathers. NOPE, it’s called genetics. lol)
And MORE IMPORTANTLY
2) Everyone seems to forget that plans for the raka rebellion were already in motion long before Aly came into the picture. The foundations were formed by the raka themselves. So I wouldn’t call it a clear cut white savior trope, although there are shadows of it. I’m sure the Trickster was in communication with Ochobu as well. Aly wasn’t the only one he kept an eye on.
In the end, I chalk things up to perception. And hope that there will be a poc main character for us to read in the future. But you can’t deny the presence of many kinds of women (race & personality wise) in Pierce’s books. And the message that they all have inalienable rights. I have definitely perceived that.
Beekeeper | Keaton Henson
Believe me, this loneliness won’t go away
Oh, woman that has gone astray
Your friends will always just be in your way
They’ll die or leave you, either way
You all say I’ve crossed a line,
But the sad fact is I’ve lost my mind
You all say I’ve crossed a line,
But the sad fact is I’ve lost my mind
And I’m just getting started, let me offend
The devil’s got nothing on me my friend
All I want is to be left alone
Tact from me is like blood from a stone
A while ago I got a message requesting something related to this tweet from ssspock (who runs the official_bucky account on Twitter)! It took me forever, but this is what I came up with! This was good fun to draw, and as you can see Bucky’s twitter account is a true blessing so you should follow it (if you aren’t already!)
Toy Story (1995)