Tammy: 2) Why George left:
I think you’ve forgotten some things. In the Middle Ages, people’s first obligation is to their overlords, *then* to their families, and the children are the lowest of those priorities. In this case, George really took an unforgivable risk, in terms of the realm of Tortall, in leaving Tortall for a rival country, even in disguise. It’s the same reason why Aly dare not let anyone know who her family is. They are too close to the throne; they know too much; they can be used in bargaining chips to get concessions for those who capture them. And George is the second-in-command spymaster: do you know how many agents would die if he were caught in the right way and handled in such a way that he would be forced to name names? Jonathan and Myles did not know he’d done this until he’d returned, and even then, George didn’t tell the monarchs where she was, because he knew they’d be right to demand that Aly start spying for Tortall. But Jonathan and Thayet would have been within their rights to confiscate George’s lands, put him in prison, or even execute him for placing his daughter, not the realm’s safety, first.
Aly is sixteen. In their world, that’s an adult. In our Middle Ages, that was an adult. People in middle school and high school in our time were commanding fortresses and troops, having babies, learning trades, doing all the things that are now allocated to people over twenty. (Our teenagerhood has become a rank of childhood only in the last sixty years or so. Before that, teenagers were expected to act like adults.) Adults have their own work to do, and George and Alanna certainly can’t grouse over Aly deciding to stay with a job when they were after her to do something with her life. George isn’t happy she’s a spy, admittedly, nor is Alanna, but what weighs more with them is that Aly has now found a cause, something she cares about. If George and Alanna can’t understand that, who can?
All along we’ve seen the respect George has for Aly’s mind and skills, and he’s told her so. Is he now supposed to turn tail and make her Daddy’s Little Girl again, when he and Alanna have both raised her to value herself and to know what she wants? He knew she would somehow take care of herself before he arrived. He didn’t expect she would be a woman when he saw her, ready and able to carve her own path, but when he saw that, he respected it and her. I think that’s the coolest compliment he could give Aly!