Now that Lionsgate and Playground Entertainment have optioned Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe (currently at 22 books with more coming) for a television series adaptation, you might be wondering what order you should read all the Tortall books in, in order to catch up.
While one could argue that you should read the books as they chronologically take place in the universe, I’m in favor of reading them in the order of publication (much as people often recommend starting C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe rather than The Magician’s Nephew) because I think it’s the most interesting order and helps readers immerse themselves in the story more than if they approached them chronologically.
Recommended Order to Read the Tortall Books
Song of the Lioness Quartet
The first Tortall series published, the Song of the Lioness quartet follows Alanna as she strives to become the first female knight in Tortall in centuries–except she has to disguise herself as a boy to be accepted for training.
- Wild Magic
- Emperor Mage
- In the Realms of the Gods
The Immortals quartet follows Daine, a young woman with an unusual form of animal magic. Alanna and other characters from the Song of the Lioness quartet make appearances as adults.
Protector of the Small Quartet
- First Test
- Lady Knight
Keladry of Mindelan goes to the palace to train as the first official female knight, now that Alanna has paved the way. She still faces prejudice, however, and must work twice as hard as the boys to prove her worth. Characters from the Song of the Lioness quartet and the Immortals quartet make appearances as adults.
Note: I personally first entered Tortall by reading the Protector of the Small series and fell in love with it. However, the cameos of past characters definitely make more sense if you have read the Song of the Lioness and Immortals quartets first.
Daughter of the Lioness Duology
- Trickster’s Choice
- Trickster’s Queen
The series title is pretty self-explanatory. The books are about Alanna’s daughter, so it can be helpful to have read the Song of the Lioness quartet first. However, the books are set in the Copper Isles, not in Tortall, and can feel pretty self-contained, even when characters from other series are referenced.
Beka Cooper Trilogy
A series following the ancestor of one of the side characters from the Song of the Lioness quartet. Thus, although the trilogy chronologically takes place earlier than any of the other books, it might be best appreciated by people who have already read the Song of the Lioness quartet.
The Numair Chronicles (in progress)
- Tempests and Slaughter
- to be announced
The Numair Chronicles explore the youth of Numair, who appears as an adult mage in the Immortals quartet. His childhood, however, is spent in a neighboring kingdom, rather than in Tortall itself.
The young adult book market has changed significantly since Tamora Pierce first published Alanna: The First Adventure in the 1980’s, with page counts increasing and readers expecting detailed world building and expansive plots. That’s not entirely what readers will get from the Alanna (Song of the Lioness) books, which are faster paced and can cover a couple years in a single novel. If you’re a fan of the current YA market, you might enjoy Pierce’s more recent books better, in which case the Beka Cooper series or Numair Chronicles might be more your speed.