The Barnes & Noble Review
Fans of Tamora Pierce, the fourth and final Protector of the Small installment is here!
Keladry of Mindelan has become a knight, and she can't forget one crucial task that the Chamber of the Ordeal has set before her: to destroy the Nothing Man, Blayce the Gallan, the leader of horrible killing machines. Now that that war-thirsty King Maggur has "brought all Scanra's clans into his grip," Kel is determined to fight any invading troops until she can enter Scanran territory and find Blayce. Unfortunately, she's been given a position that makes it rather difficult -- head of a refugee camp, away from the front lines. Can she stand to push back the battle fire that burns within her? Will she ever conquer Blayce and live up to her nickname as Protector of the Small? With her honor to Tortall -- along with her life -- at stake, Kel makes some powerful choices that could mean victory or defeat.
Packed with startling, graphic action and reassuring humanity, Lady Knight is a thrilling conclusion to Pierce's four-book series. Not only is Kel a fierce knight, but her humor and modesty make her a true leader that anyone would want on their side. The ending is also energizing and suspenseful, and we can only hope that Tamora Pierce might spin off more books from one of Lady Knight's many characters. A lion-hearted success!
PW called this fourth and final book in the series, in which Keladry ("Kel") of Mindelan realizes her dream of becoming a knight but soon discovers that it brings unforeseen responsibilities, a "compelling conclusion." Ages 12-up. (Aug.)n Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This eagerly awaited fourth and final book in the Protector of the Small series will not disappoint Pierce's many fans. Keladry of Mindelan is one of two lady knights in all the kingdom of Tortall. Tortall and its neighbor Scanra are engaged in military conflict, and Kel joins Tortall's armies near the shared border. Upon arriving, Kel does not receive a battle assignment as she had hoped, but the command of a refugee camp instead, a task not to her liking. Nevertheless, with Scanra's phantom killing machines on the rampage, Kel discovers her talents for compassion and diplomacy are needed to safeguard the war's victims. In a wrenching conclusion, Kel must choose between the army and her refugees, when a Scanran mage kidnaps refugee children and Kel's superiors order her to abandon the refugees to a murderous enchantment. Disobeying orders, Kel attempts a perilous rescue whose outcome brings the series to a well-paced conclusion. Unrelentingly realistic in its depiction of the horrors of war, this novel draws the reader into a complete and believable fantasy world. Pierce provides exquisite details of the weaponry, topography, and culture of her world, and her control of a voluminous cast of characters is masterful. Readers will be gratified by Pierce's ability to develop Kel's maturing personality, as well as those of characters from previous novels. Hand this chunky novel to your resident Pierce readers and watch them devour it gleefully. Every teen collection should stock this title. VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Random House, 448p,
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, November 2002: In this last book of the series, set in the medieval fantasy land of Tortall, 18-year-old Kel has finally achieved her dream of becoming a knight. She is only the second woman to attain this status, and when she is kept from battle and placed in charge of a refugee camp she is angry at first. But then the camp is brutally attacked by magical machines, and action is called for. Meanwhile, Kel has had a vision of a man who has created these awful machines-powered by children's souls-and she knows it is her destiny to stop him. Kel can communicate with animals, which often comes in handy, but her bravery, brains, and skill as a commander are even more important than her magical skills. This is a wonderful series, filled with action and adventure while tracking the growth of Kel as she struggles through her knighthood training. In this final novel, readers will see parallels with the events of 9/11, as Pierce points out in her notes and acknowledgments at the end. (There is also a list of the cast of characters and a glossary.) It's satisfying to see Kel growing into her new role as knight and succeeding in her destiny as Protector of the Small, saving the children and animals she loves and finally defeating a nasty enemy. (Protector of the Small, Book 4). KLIATT Codes: JS*-Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Random House, 431p., Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-In this fourth and final book in the series, Kel is now 18 and her knighthood is guaranteed after she passes her final test as a squire, which involves facing her fears and overcoming them while in the Chamber of the Ordeal. During the Ordeal, she has a vision of an ugly little man directing monsterlike, metal machines to kill children and use their souls to fuel them. She hears a voice telling her that her task is to find this "Nothing Man" and stop the killing, and she becomes determined to steal away, hunt him down, and destroy him. Orders dictate otherwise and Kel finds herself the Commander of a refugee camp for people who've lost their homes in the fighting between Tortall and neighboring Scanran. While she is away from camp, it is attacked and many refugees, mostly children, are kidnapped. She disobeys orders and rides off alone to try to save them. This meaty book has lots of fighting and challenges to Kel's authority, allowing her once again to prove that she is equal to the men. Her compassion for those weaker than herself and her strong leadership skills make her an appealing protagonist. All of the characters from the previous books are here, and Pierce neatly ties all the plot threads together in a way that should please her fans. She also provides a helpful list of characters and a glossary. This is an essential and satisfying book for anyone who enjoyed the others in the series.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Keladry of Mindelan lay with the comfortable black blanket of sleep wrapped around her. Then, against the blackness, light moved and strengthened to show twelve large, vaguely rat- or insectlike metal creatures, devices built for murder. The killing devices were magical machines made of iron-coated giants' bones, chains, pulleys, dagger-fingers and -toes, and a long, whiplike tail. The seven-foot-tall devices stood motionless in a half circle as the light revealed what lay at their feet: a pile of dead children.
With the devices and the bodies visible, the light spread to find the man who seemed to be the master of the creations. To Keladry of Mindelan, known as Kel, he was the Nothing Man. He was almost two feet shorter than the killing devices, long-nosed and narrow-mouthed, with small, rapidly blinking eyes and dull brown hair. His dark robe was marked with stains and burns; his hair was unkempt. He always gnawed a fingernail, or scratched a pimple, or shifted from foot to foot.
Once that image-devices, bodies, man-was complete, Kel woke. She stared at the shadowed ceiling and cursed the Chamber of the Ordeal. The Chamber had shown Kel this vision, or variations of it, after her formal Ordeal of knighthood. As far as Kel knew, no one else had been given any visions of people to be found once a squire was knighted. As everyone she knew understood it, the Ordeal was straightforward enough. The Chamber forced would-be knights to live through their fears. If they did this without making a sound, they were released, to be proclaimed knights, and that was the end of the matter.
Kel was different. Three or four times a week, the Chamber sent her this dream. It was a reminder of the task it had set her. After her Ordeal, before the Chamber set her free, it had shown her the killing devices, the Nothing Man, and the dead children. It had demanded that Kel stop it all.
Kel guessed that the Nothing Man would be in Scanra, to the north, since the killing devices had appeared during Scanran raids on Tortall last summer. Trapped in the capital by a hard winter, with travel to the border nearly impossible, Kel had lived with growing tension. She had to ride north as soon as the mountain passes opened if she was to sneak into Scanra and begin her search for the Nothing Man. Every moment she remained in Tortall invited the growing risk that the king would issue orders to most knights, including Kel, to defend the northern border. The moment Kel got those orders, she would be trapped. She had vowed to defend the realm and obey its monarchs, which would mean fighting soldiers, not hunting for a mage whose location was unknown.
"Maybe I'll get lucky. Maybe I'll ride out one day and find there's a line of killing devices from the palace right up to the Nothing Man's door," she grumbled, easing herself out from under her covers. Kel never threw off her blankets. With a number of sparrows and her dog sharing her bed, she might smother a friend if she hurried. Even taking care, she heard muffled cheeps of protest. "Sorry," she told her companions, and set her feet on the cold flagstones of her floor.
She made her way across her dark room and opened the shutters on one of her windows. Before her lay a courtyard and a stable where the men of the King's Own kept their horses. The torches that lit the courtyard were nearly out. The pearly radiance that came to the eastern sky in the hour before dawn fell over snow, stable, and the edges of the palace wall beyond.
The scant light showed a big girl of eighteen, broadshouldered and solid-waisted, with straight mouse-brown hair cut short below her earlobes and across her forehead. She had a dreamer's hazel eyes, set beneath long, curling lashes, odd in contrast to the many fine scars on her hands and the muscles that flexed and bunched under her nightshirt. Her nose was still unbroken and delicate after eight years of palace combat training, her lips full and quicker to smile than frown. Determination filled every inch of her strong body.
Motion in the shadows at the base of the courtyard wall caught her eye. Kel gasped as a winged creature waddled out into the open courtyard, as ungainly on its feet as a vulture. The flickering torchlight caught and sparked along the edges of metal feathers on wings and legs. Steel legs, flexible and limber, ended in steel-clawed feet. Between the metal wings and above the metal legs and feet was human flesh, naked, hairless, grimy, and in this case, male.
The Stormwing looked at Kel and grinned, baring sharp steel teeth. His face was lumpy and unattractive, marked by a large nose, small eyes, and a thin upper lip with a full lower one. He had the taunting smile of someone born impudent. "Startle you, did I?” he inquired.
Kel thanked the gods that the cold protected her sensitive nose, banishing most of the Stormwing's foul stench. Stormwings loved battlefields, where they tore corpses to pieces, urinated on them, smeared them with dung, then rolled in the mess. The result was a nauseating odor that made even the strongest stomach rebel. Her teachers had explained that the purpose of Stormwings was to make people think twice before they chose to fight, knowing what might happen to the dead when Stormwings arrived. So far they hadn't done much good as far as Kel could see: people still fought battles and killed each other, Stormwings or no. Tortall’s Stormwing population was thriving. But this was the first time she'd seen one on palace grounds.
Kel glared at him.
“Get out of here, you nasty thing! Shoo!”
"Is that any way to greet a future companion?" demanded the Stormwing, raising thin brown brows.
From the Hardcover edition.