To everyone on my list: READ THIS BOOK!!Refreshing is an understatement to describe this book! A real heroine with a wonderful 'love' triangle! A girl who is a true tomboy, not just a feminine-hating female! Alanna is a REAL character, with real emotions and real decisions!Where was this book when I was in middle school!First, the world that Pierce has created is alluring and set in a fantasy realm. However, it follows the world of "LotR" - it feels like a realistic place with characters who reflect people in our lives.The magic aspect does not take center stage, and I enjoyed reading a fantasy book that treated the magical elements as PART of the story, not the REASON for the story.And I can not give enough praise to Pierce - her writing and use of foreshadowing puts my own writing to shame.I will be reading anything and everything by this author!