I read Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (Random House, 1989). Alanna's dream is to become a knight, but girls can't be knights. Still, Alanna cuts her hair, and her twin brother, Thom, pretends to be Alanna so he can be a sorcerer.
Alanna and Thom have the gift, which is a magical ability. Although Alanna and Thom had been taught some magic, arrogant Thom wants to be the best.
Alanna arrives at the palace and quickly makes an enemy out of Ralon of Malven. But that doesn't stop her. She makes friends with Prince Jonathan, Gary, Raoul and Douglass.
As Alanna struggles through daily hardships, she makes friends with George Cooper, King of Thieves. She learns how to fight bare-handed. Later Ralon tries to beat her up. They fight face-to-face, and Alanna defeats him.
The sweating sickness strikes. Jonathan gets ill, and Douglass dies. Alanna saves Jonathan with her magic. George meets Alanna's friends.
After a visit from the Duke of Conte (Jonathan's uncle), the discovery of Alanna's sword and her friendship with Sir Myles, the squires go to Persopilis. And Jonathan invites Alanna.
Jonathan and Alanna go to the Black City, a place that calls children to the city by spirits (Ysandir). One by one, Alanna and Jonathan defeat the Ysandir, and Jonathan finds out Alanna is a girl. He asks her to be his squire, and she accepts.
I learned that whatever you want to be, be prepared to face obstacles to get it.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers