Tamora Pierce never goes into it, but considering her position—and being who she is—Aly must have had some pretty amazing teachers. Here's a look at what some of them say about her.


1. Coach

"Down, up!" Eda Bell yowled, sounding very much at the moment, like her namesake. The Shang Wildcat glared at the fourteen year-old girl in front of her and barked, "You wanted to learn Shang, well, our trainees can do this by their first month! Down, up, and don't give me that cheeky grin of yours!" Watching as Aly—who'd grown too tired and sore to make smart remarks hours ago—gritted her teeth and went through the formation again, Eda Bell had to admit that the child was holding up better than she'd imagined.

2. Whisper Man

The first thing Aly learned from her father was that, on the field, he was the Whisper Man—the behind-the-scenes spymaster whose word was law. She soon learned that to treat him with anything less than a deferential, professional attitude during their lessons would result in swift dismissal. There was no room for slip-ups in the world of espionage, and George Cooper could not risk his enemies finding out about his family or disorder in his ranks because his daughter was given special treatment.

3. Mage Master

Unlike the other forms of the Gift, Sight was highly personal and varied from person to person. However, though no one could quite teach her the details of her magical ability, the fact that Eleni Cooper had watched her son struggle and adapt to his Sight gave her the insight to help her granddaughter do the same. By the time Aly was eight, she'd learned the tricks of "turning on," (and, more importantly), turning off her Sight, and had dubbed Granny Eleni as her "Mage Master."

4. Disguise

George was good, but no one was better at the art of disguise than Rispah. Still, he thought, unamused, he hadn't expected his cousin to teach thirteen year old Aly everythingabout pretending to be a flower girl. Or beggar. Or dock market trollop.

5. Health Teacher

Watching as first Thom, then Alan came out of the infirmary with beet-red faces, both unable to look her in the eye, Aly had to shiver when Maud's voice called her in to "explain the birds and the bees."

6. Teacher of the Womanly Arts

Strangely enough, Alanna was the one who taught Aly to cook, clean, and sew. However, it was Aunt Cythera who taught her the satisfaction of doing these tasks well, as well as the little bits and pieces that could turn a piece of handiwork into an art, a plate of food into a dish, and a plate into a mirror.

7. CarthakiTeacher

Lindhall Reed wasn't exactly a normal teacher, but then again, compared to her other teachers, he was by far the most orthodox. Aly loved sneaking into his classes and listening to him lecture about the culture and history of the world, and the great beasts that used to roam it.

8. Safehouse

When she first asked Numair to teach her how to block truth-spells, the black mage thought she was trying to escape punishment from her parents and laughingly refused. When the nine-year old Aly very seriously explained to him her choice in profession and why exactly it was essential for a spy to be able to resist truth-spells, he sobered up.

9. Animal Behavior

Aly wasn't in love with animals the same way her mother loved her horses or Alan loved his dogs, but she was fascinated when Daine commented on how a normal person could "hear" the animal language just by observing their body languages. By the second day, Daine had found herself an avid pupil.

10. Femininity

When she turned twelve, Aly went through a tomboyish phase that had her refusing to wear dresses and swearing off all girly things. That summer, George, who was worried that his little girl was turning into a little boy, sent her to the castle to "visit her cousins." A word to Thayet, and the Queen laughingly accepted the challenge of teaching the stubborn girl how femininity and strength often went hand-in-hand.

11. Morality

Watching Kally accept her duty as a princess of the realm was the greatest example Aly ever had of responsibility. Roald taking the burden of being Crown Prince as soon as he was old enough to understands the words was a close second. Alan taught her that following his dreams came above everything else—even if people talked about how the Lioness' son entered page training two years late, and Thom taught her that magic was useful but dangerous. Her mother taught her the price being god-touched demands, and her father taught her to smile even when the world is collapsing.

All in all, Aly thinks she's got a great education.