Summary: Aly, daughter of Alanna the Lioness and former rogue George Cooper, has a reputation as an empty-headed flirt. In truth, Aly is smart and determined, but the work she's best suited for -- espionage -- is forbidden to her by her parents. Sailing off in a fit of pique, Aly is taken captive by pirates and sold as a slave in the Copper Isles. While planning her escape, Aly makes a wager with Kyrpioth, the trickster god of the Isles. If Aly can keep her master's charges safe for the summer, Kyrpioth will return Aly to her home. Taking the wager, Aly discovers that the Balitang daughters, Dove and Sarai, are at the heart of a rebellion, where the dark skinned natives will overthrow their conquerers.
What worked: Full disclosure time -- I love Tamora Pierce. I love everything she's ever written. All of it. She and Neil Gaiman are tied as my favorite writer of all time. So, in my opinion, this book is nearly perfect.
But, you probably want anyalsis. Fine. Aly is a great feminist heroine. She's smart and strong and detemined to make her own choices. However, she's not perfect. She makes mistakes, she gets distracted. She might be god chosen, but she's still human.
An interesting aspect of this book is how it looks at power dynamics. Aly choses to be a slave so that she may go unnoticed by the enemies of the Balitang family. The native raka are thought to be sub-human by their luarin conquerers, which allows the raka to plot without fear of discovery.
Aly also has a unique romance, as her suitor is a crow-turned-man. This gives the book some welcome humor, as Aly's swain tries to court her by feeding her bugs and giving her sparkly stones.
What Didn't: O.K. -- raging fangirl, remember?
However, there are a LOT of characters in this book. It can be difficult to keep them all straight. Also, without a prior knowledge of the women of Tortall, I'm not sure if this book works as well.
However: There's a cast of characters listing. And if you haven't read the Tortall books, shame on you.
Who would I give this book too: I recommend Pierce's books all the time. To everybody. However, this one would work best for readers who've enjoyed Pierce's other books.