In the late 1980s, I read a young adult novel, or series of novels, about a teenage girl that posed as a boy so she could attend a boys’ school to train to become a knight.

I thought the story took place in Ursula K. Le Guin‘s Earthsea world, but I was wrong. I’m rereading that series now and see that the book is unrelated, though it has a similar feel but no magic, that I remember.

  • 1
    If it's got no magic in it, what about it makes it 'fantasy'?
    – Valorum
    Oct 23, 2022 at 5:42
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    You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add. For example, what was her name? Why did they need knights? Was there an enemy? Why did she want to become a knight? Was there a love interest? Were the novels geared toward older teens or younger audiences? What did the book cover look like?
    – Valorum
    Oct 23, 2022 at 5:42
  • This question inspired me to ask another one (not fantasy, but again involving a girl posing as a boy who was assistant/squire to a knight).
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 23, 2022 at 15:29
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    @Valorum - I read that as "no magic that I remember" - that is, there is magic in Ursula Le Guin's books, but not the kind of magic that OP remembers from the other series.
    – Vilx-
    Oct 23, 2022 at 19:47
  • @Valorum Non-human races, perhaps? Or just a fictional wish-fulfillment environment, maybe.
    – Graham
    Oct 23, 2022 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


This is Alanna: The First Adventure (1984) by Tamora Pierce.

Alanna looked around and checked the hall for servants. “Tomorrow he gives us the letters for the man who trains the pages and the people at the convent. You can imitate his writing, so you can do new letters, saying we’re twin boys. “You go to the convent. Say in the letter that you’re to be a sorcerer. The Daughters of the Goddess are the ones who train young boys in magic, remember? When you’re older, they’ll send you to the priests. And I’ll go to the palace and learn to be a knight!”

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    As noted in Valorum's quoted summary, there is magic, but Alanna has no gift for it. She does have a magic sword and (later) a cat and a stone that sees through magic, both gifts from a goddess.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 24, 2022 at 0:57
  • Thanks! I think that’s it! I don’t remember there subplot about her brother going to the convent, but his name “Thom” and the rest sound familiar. Oct 24, 2022 at 2:32
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    @ChrisPeterson: Good news, she's written several books in the Tortall series, including a follow-up involving the first girl to try to become a knight openly as a woman.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 24, 2022 at 11:54
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    No idea why the quote in this answer has the additional detail that Thom disguises himself as a girl. That's not in the linked description and as far as I remember, it's also not correct. Oct 24, 2022 at 13:40
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    Also: Alanna does have a gift for magic, learns to use it and it plays a rather important role, contrary to what FuzzyBoots wrote. Oct 24, 2022 at 13:42

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