Title: First Test
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Protector of the Small #1, Tortall #18
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasy, Strong women
5th sentence, 74th page: His eyes were a deep, brilliant sapphire blue, framed by long lashes.
It’s ten years since royal decree permitted girls to train as knights. No one applied – until now. Keladry of Mindelan is determined to follow in the footsteps of the nation’s greatest legend: Alanna, the Lioness of Tortall. She’s in for a nasty surprise.
The royal training master, Lord Wyldon of Cavall, thinks girls should stick to embroidery. If Keladry doesn’t meet his exacting standards, she’s out.
It seems so unfair. Keladry knows she’s equal to any of the boys, but how can she hope to succeed when Lord Wyldon’s mind is already made up?
There is an inequality in the way men and women are treated in modern society. Although this has become slowly reduced over the past century, the inequality is evident in our everyday lives. First Test is a great reminder of this. As the first girl willing to take up the mantel of knight (something which is regaled to a man’s role in popular history), Keladry is forced to overcome obstacle after obstacle. Hurdles which none of her male counterparts are required to conquest.
The idea that a young girl, who must work harder to be as physically adept as the other young men her age, must also work harder to become accepted is difficult and incredibly frustrating to read about. She is up an hour before the men, and goes to bed an hour after. There is a never ending march of tasks and challenges which she is forced to meet flawlessly – the threat of dismissal a constant cloud to the probationary page. Yet, in spite of this, she is able to thrive in her new reality and find a home for herself at the palace.
First Test is a great beginning to the Protector of the Small quartet – it is the first year of an incredibly challenging career choice. The realm of knights, mages and mystical creatures combines to create a fantastic journey that will make you laugh and grind your teeth in frustration.
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