This one’s a classic – Alanna: The First Adventure, the first book in Tamora Pierce’s four-book series, Song of the Lioness. I read this series about a million times as a kid (which I now think is questionably appropriate, considering all the s-e-x references in the later books) and I still have the original, tattered paperback somewhere in my childhood bedroom.
The book follows Alanna of Trebond, a 12-year-old girl who disguises herself as a boy to become trained as a knight. It’s a quick read, but engaging and immersive. I’ve tried to get into a few of Tamora Pierce’s more recent series, and I have to admit, none of them felt quite as spot on as this one. The writing in Alanna is just so clean and minimalistic. It’s a perfect example of less is more — proof you don’t need flowery explanations or page-long descriptors in fantasy to immerse the reader in your world.
So if you missed out on this series when you were a kid – particularly if you’re a fantasy writer! – I would definitely recommend it.