1,908 Pages

Trickster's Choice
Trickster's Choice
A Novel of the Tortall
Protagonist Alianne of Pirate's Swoop
Antagonist Bronau Jimajen, luarin nobility
Setting Copper Isles: Rajmuat and Tanair in 462 HE
Author Tamora Pierce
Cover Artist Joyce Tenneson
Publication information
Publisher Random House
Release Date Sept. 23, 2003 (hardcover and audiobook)
Sept. 28, 2004 (paperback)
UK Release Date
Pages 432 (hardcover)
448 (paperback)
Series Daughter of the Lioness
Preceded by '
Followed by Trickster's Queen

Trickster's Choice is the first installment in Tamora Pierce's fourth series of Tortall books. The second and last volume of this series is Trickster's Queen. In this novel Tamora Pierce tells the story of Alianne of Pirate's Swoop, the daughter of Pierce's first heroine, Alanna of Pirate's Swoop and Olau, the famed Lioness. Aly doesn't want to follow in her mothers footsteps and is enlisted to help the trickster god Kyprioth instead. Soon she plays an important role in the raka conspiracy, which wants to put a half-raka queen on the throne of the Copper Isles.


"To Phyllis Westberg,
for knowing the best time to fire me and
for giving me the best rewrite advice
I've ever gotten:
read aloud
—Tamora Pierce's dedication for Trickster's Choice


"I proclaim the shallowness of the world and of fashion. I scorn those who sway before each breeze of taste that dictates what is stylish in one's dress, or face, or hair. I scoff at the hollowness of life."
—Alianne of Pirate's Swoop to her father[src]

Alianne of Pirate‘s Swoop is the daughter of a legend, Alanna of Pirate's Swoop and Olau, the famed Lioness, and the realm‘s second-in-command spymaster and former King of the Thieves, George Cooper. At the age of sixteen she is still searching for her place in life and pressed to do so by the people surrounding her. However, she is denied the only career path that seems eligible to her, that of a spy. Both her parents think it‘s too dangerous for their only daughter, who is also one of the nobility. Trying to prevent any more fights with her mother and to give her parents some time alone Aly goes sailing. Unfortunately some pirates don‘t know that raiding season hasn‘t started yet and capture her. Thus Aly is sold into slavery in the Copper Islands.

There she becomes part of the Balitang household. The family has to leave the capital soon after Aly‘s arrival, because they were out of favor with the isles‘ king, Oron Rittevon. They can‘t keep all their slaves and servants when going into exile. Thus most of them, among them Aly, are presented to a matcher to find fitting new masters. That‘s when Aly meets the god Kyprioth. He strikes a wager with Aly: She is to keep the family‘s children alive through the summer and he‘ll convince her father to let her work as a spy. If she looses she is to serve him for an entire year. To ease her way Kyprioth also speaks to the Balitangs, although in the borrowed seaming of his brother, Mithros, telling them that Aly was his messenger.

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Russian cover

Consequently Aly leaves Rajmuat with the Balitangs for their mountain estate Tanair on Lombyn Island. Her task during the voyage is to look after the two younger children, Petranne and Elsren. She also gets to know the older daughters, Saraiyu and Dovasary. Their mother was Duke Mequen‘s first wife, Sarugani Temaida, while the younger children originated from his second marriage with Winnamine Fonfala. Quick-witted Aly soon realizes that more is going on in the household, especially with many of the high-ranking raka servants, as it may appear on the first glance. The reason for this are Sarugani’s daughters, who are royal through two lines, which fits perfectly to an old prophecy announcing the return of a half-raka queen to the throne of the Copper Isles. Upon their arrival at Tanair Aly gets help from the local crows, who teach her their language and report to her about who comes and goes in the surrounding country. One of those crows, Nawat, changes into human form to satisfy his curiosity and he becomes friends with Aly.

Shortly after the Balitang’s arrival at Tanair Prince Bronau, who is also out of favor with the king, followed them there, because he and their graces were old friends. He finds refuge with the family for several weeks, often riding with the ladies and openly flirting with Sarai, while also openly showing his disdain for the native raka, even though Sarai is part-raka. Meanwhile Aly gets in contact with the raka conspirators, namely Ulasim Dodeka, Chenaol, Lokeij and Fesgao, high-ranking servants in the household watching over Sarugani’s daughters, with whom she works together from then on to keep the family save. The conspirators also help Aly through providing her with a bodyguard, Junai Dodeka. In the beginning they are less helpful in the matter of getting a mage for additional protection. At first Aly is told that there isn’t a mage and later, when she tells the conspirators that she knows there is a powerful mage around, that it’s not easy to convince this particular mage to help the luarin.

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German cover

One day assassins smuggle themselves into Tanair through a trader caravan, but are discovered by Aly and thus the family can be brought into safety, while the assassins are gotten away with. Still one woman nearly manages to harm the family, if not for Sarai, who steps in and kills the woman before she can kill Mequen. Aly berates herself for her negligence but also stresses her point with her fellow conspirators. After some time they manage to convince Ochobu Dodeka to come to the castle and help protecting the family.

During all this time Kyprioth regularly takes Aly to see important events in Copper Isles politics, like the deaths of kings Oron and Hazarin as well as Dunevon’s coronation, still a child under the regency of Imajane and Rubinyan Jimajen. When the family learns of this Bronau leaves, because he is in royal favor again, promising the Balitangs to talk to the regents on their behalf. Some time later Aly has another dream, one in which Bronau tries to kidnap Dunevon. He fails and has to flee. Not long afterwards the Balitangs get a message from Rubinyan, asking them for their help if Bronau should seek refuge with them again.

Bronau does indeed return to the Balitangs. Although this second visit seems to be innocent enough in the beginning, he attacks the family in the night, trying to force Sarai into a marriage and thus plotting his own ascension to the throne – Mequen is next in line to the throne after Dunevon. In the following argument Bronau wounds Mequen fatally and can only be stopped by Dove shooting him. Both men eventually die, as does one of the conspirators, Lokeij.

After these events the duchess frees Aly and anounces her to be part of the family. Aly in turn vows to herself to stay with the family and put a half-raka queen on the throne. Thus she even refuses to return home when her father personally comes to get her.

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Australian cover

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Danish cover 1

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Danish cover 2



  • Alianne of Pirate's Swoop: The sixteen year old daughter of Alanna and George, an aspiring spy. "The Cunning One" from the Luarin Prophesy.
  • Alanna of Pirate's Swoop and Olau: Also known as "The Lioness". The King's Champion, Baroness of Pirate's Swoop and Knight of the Realm as well as a legend.
  • George of Pirate's Swoop: Born the commoner George Cooper, second in command of the realms spys, Baron of Pirate's Swoop.
  • Thom of Pirate's Swoop: Aly's older brother, studying magecraft at the royal university in Corus.
  • Alan of Pirate's Swoop: Aly's twin brother, entered page training three years late.
  • Thayet of Conté: Queen of Tortall, Aly's godsmother.

Copper Islanders


  • Oron Rittevon: Paranoied King of the Copper Isles.
  • Hazarin Rittevon: Oron's son, king after him, but more interested in his pleasure.
  • Dunevon Rittevon: Oron's youngest son, still a child when he is crowned under the regency of his half-sister Imajane and her husband Rubinyan.
  • Imajane Jimajen: Oron's daughter.
  • Rubinyan Jimajen: Imajane's husband; close friend of the Balitangs.
  • Bronau Jimajen: Rubinyan's brother; close friend of the Balitangs.

Balitang household

  • Mequen Balitang: Exiled luarin duke, head of the household.
  • Sarugani Temaida: Mequens late wife, mother of Sarai and Dove.
  • Winnamine Balitang: Born Winnamine Fonfala, Mequen's second wife and formerly Sarugani's best friend.
  • Saraiyu Balitang: Oldest daughter.
  • Dovasary Balitang: Sarai's younger sister, clever and not as straight-forward as Sarai.
  • Petranne Balitang: Youngest daughter.
  • Elsren Balitang: Youngest child and only son.
  • Ulasim Dodeka: Raka; head footman. "The Strong One" from the Luarin Prophesy.
  • Chenaol: Raka; head cook.
  • Lokeij: Raka hostler.
  • Fesgao: Raka man-at-arms. "The Warrior" from the Luarin Prophesy.
  • Junai Dodeka: Raka; daughter of Ulasim.
  • Ochobu Dodeka: Raka mage, hating luarin; mother of Ulasim. "The Wise One" from the Luarin Prophesy.


  • Kyprioth: Trickster god.
  • Nawat Crow: Former crow, transformed himself into a man. Represents "The Crows" from the Luarin Prophesy.
Trickster's Choice audio

Audiobook cover


UK cover

Publication background and reception

The novel was first published in hardcover on September 23, 2003. The audiobook, produced by Listening Library and read by Trini Alvarado, was released simultaneously with the hardcover edition. The paperback edition was published the following year, on September 28, 2004. For the Australian and UK releases the publisher was Scholastic[1]. The text was translated into at least three other languages, Danish, Russian and German. For the Danish translation, published by Forlaget Tellerup[1], the novel was split in two. The first part was titled "Slyngelgudens valg" ("Trickster's Choice"), the second part "Slyngelgudens plan" ("Trickster's Plan")[2]. In the German translation Aly's nickname was changed to "Lia", although the long form of her name was kept as it is in the original text. The German title is "Lia - Die Prophezeiung der Königin" (Lia - The Prophecy of the Queen). Angelika Eisold-Viebig did the translation for the Arena publishing house, which released the book in 2006. The Japanese translation also split the book into two, simply titled "Aly no Monogatari I & II" (The Tale of Aly I & II).

Trickster's Choice was four weeks on The New York Times Children's Chapter Books bestseller list between October and December of 2003, on places seven to ten. The novel was also featured on other recommendation lists, like VOYA's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List in 2003 and A Teens' Top Ten in 2004.[3]

In the Original Draft, Aly was going to be 13, a girly-girl, and sulky. In the released book, Aly is 16, laid back, well learned, and the book is set 3 years later.[4]

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Books" on Pierce's website
  2. "Galleries" on Pierce's website
  3. "Etc." on Pierce's website

External links

See also

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