Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Protector of the Small #3, Tortall #20
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: The morning she had climbed down the frail, rusted outer stair of Balor’s Needle had marked the end of her fear of height, though she still disliked them.
Keladry has finished her page training. She’s passed the exams and now she’s a fully fledged squire. Which is great – except that she needs a knight to take her on…
And her luck is in. After weeks of waiting, a knight-master has come forward. A true warrior to follow, if she can cope with the gruelling life on campaign. Bandits and renegade centaurs are just what she’s trained for – it couldn’t be better. But eventually Kel will have to return and face the Chamber of the Ordeal, the final test of a squire. One boy has already died in the chamber this year…
Kel’s years as a squire help to build upon all of her many adventures in First Test and Page. Although her one epic battle (which every main character really requires) doesn’t get revealed until the very end of this novel, the entire journey to this point is full of twists and turns. Her position as the King’s Own Squire and new friendships help to weave a new tale of a life full of learning, hard work and joy.
Although Joren still makes numerous appearances throughout the tale, and his true motivations remain hidden (at least until about halfway through the novel), it quickly becomes evident that he isn’t the arch nemesis of the series. Instead, it is the brewing war with Scanra that takes centre-stage. That’s not to say that Kel doesn’t continue to experience the prejudice and judgement which comes with being a woman pursuing a career that is generally considered a “man’s job”. But, it is something, that has become a background in the storyline. After all, a quartet can’t continuously hash over the same issues – eventually they will settle down in real life, and the same can be said for this storyline.
Kel also begins her first romance throughout this story. And, as is politely pointed out to her, there will be judgement. Where men are able to publicly pursue their relations, she is again forced to toe the line. It is this constant reminder of the double standards that we as women face that makes this story (and indeed, series) so poignant. These double standards are faced in our everyday lives and I love the way in which Kel is able to stoically accept this, work around it, and move on with her life. There is never any fuss, just a simple acceptance.
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