The Barnes & Noble Review
Following First Test and Page, this third book in Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small series does not disappoint. Squire continues Keladry of Mindelan's journey toward becoming one of the first female knights in the kingdom of Tortall. Despite proving herself during her long years as a page, there are still many who are all too eager to bring about her failure, including her old nemesis Joren of Stone Mountain.
After her initial disappointment that she is not chosen to be the squire of her hero, Lady Alanna the Lioness, Kel finds her place among an elite guard of fighters led by her master-knight, Lord Raoul. He is kind and treats her as an equal, teaching her battlefield tactics, jousting, and the skills of leadership. Kel's sparrow companions and her dog Jump are still assets in protecting her, and she is kept very busy with a new addition to her menagerie -- a very temperamental baby griffin with extremely sharp claws. These years as a squire are an introduction to many new things for the teenage Kel -- tilting tournaments, new friends, new enemies, and even love. There are going to be some very tough decisions ahead for this young lady.
Pierce's Song of the Lioness, Circle of Magic, and Immortals series will whet your appetite for more of the fascinating characters only touched on briefly in the Protector of the Small series. To learn more about the author, check out her very interesting web site at www.sff.net/people/Tamora.Pierce. (Corrina Allen)
Pierce returns to the Kingdom of Tortall in this young-adult fantasy....The idea of a girl proving herself in a male-dominated field is hardly new, but Keladry's a real scrapper, and her adventures are truly entertaining.
In this third volume in Pierce's well-regarded Protector of the Small quartet, following First Test (Random House, 1999/VOYA June 2000) and Page (2000/VOYA April 2001), fourteen-year-old Keladry of Mindelan finds herself chosen as squire by no less a hero than Lord Raoul, the Knight Commander of the King's Own guard. Accompanied by her faithful animal companions, including an extremely aggressive flock of sparrows, Kel works hard and excels at everything she does, but still she must deal with both the envy and the sexism of the other warriors around her. Gradually winning the respect of her peers because of her skill with weapons and her refusal to accept special treatment, Kel tames a baby griffin, does battle with a variety of human and nonhuman opponents, and generally proves herself to be not merely a competent warrior but a potential commander. Still, as the years of her apprenticeship go by, she knows that before she can become a full-fledged knight, she will have to face one final dangerthe magical Chamber of the Ordeala test that has driven some squires to madness and others to suicide. Pierce's Kel is at once a talented warrior and a refreshingly human young woman, with a strong interest in both the latest weaponry and handsome young men. The author combines well-done action sequences, gritty detail (including a few moderately bloody bits), and just a touch of wish-fulfillment fantasy in a tale that is guaranteed to please her well-established audience. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Random House, 416p,$15.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Michael Levy SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
In this third book about Kel, an intrepid girl who aspires to be a knight, the 14-year-old is starting a four-year stint as a squire under Lord Raoul. He is an experienced knight who commands the King's Own, a sort of police unit serving as royal bodyguards and helping out wherever needed in the medieval fantasy kingdom of Tortall. Kel faces prejudice from her fellows as well as danger from centaurs, wars, and a vicious baby griffin, but the tall, tough, muscular squire proves her worth and works tirelessly, excelling in jousting and demonstrating her leadership abilities on the battlefield. Learning about the hard work as well as the glory of a knight's life just increases her resolve to become a knight herself and serve her land and people as best she can. Kel has the ability to communicate with animals, and her faithful dog, horse, and sparrows assist her. Kel also acquires a boyfriend in this volume of the series. At the end of her time as a squire, she must undergo the Ordeal, spending a night in a magical Chamber that forces squires to confront their weaknesses, before she can become a knight. There Kel learns of a new threat to the kingdom, which the next book in the series will surely address. This feminist fantasy is a delightful read, with marvelously well-rounded characters, humor, and lots of action, too. It's long, but readers will quickly get involved in Kel's adventures and eagerly turn the pages for more. Fans of Pierce will enjoy meeting favorite characters again (and seeing others get what they deserve), and the book can stand on its own for those who have not yet met Kel. Great entertainment. Protector of the Small series. KLIATT Codes: JSRecommended forjunior and senior high school students. 2001, Random House, 416p, $17.99. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-In this third installation in the series, Pierce at last relieves fans' concerns about who will take on young Keladry as a squire. After hanging tough with the page program, she is at last ready to take the next steps down the road to knighthood, accompanied by her friends and her faithful mutt. To her sorrow, she is not selected by the Lady Alanna, who taps Neal for her squire. Kel is chosen by Lord Raoul, commander of the King's Own, and she quickly discovers that she has landed the better situation. She soon finds herself fighting centaurs, cleaning up after floods, and caring for a baby griffin. Kel's nemesis, Joren, fails quite badly in the Chamber of the Ordeal, which will leave readers nervous about her own designated time there. What she faces in the Chamber nicely sets up the next book in this series. Pierce continues to create a broad range of fully realized characters, even if Raoul is a little too good to be true. Her plotting is sometimes a little rushed and Tortall often seems more like background scenery than a real place. However, the author has created a strong female protagonist who accomplishes her goals with her integrity, sense of humor, and her self-esteem intact. She faces decisions about sex, her relationships, and the effects both will have on her personal life and her future career as a knight and commander. Kel's fans will delight in seeing the parallels to their own lives, and Alanna and Daine's fans will enjoy seeing their favorites, if only in cameo roles.-Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Despite the overflow of humanity present for the congress at the royal palace, the hall where Keladry of Mimdelan walked was deserted. There were no servants to be seen. No echo of the footsteps, laughter, or talk that filled the sprawling residence sounded here, only Kel's steps and the click of her dog's claws on the stone floor.
They made an interesting pair. The fourteen-year-old girl was big for her age, five feet nine inches tall, and dressed informally in breeches and shirt. Both were a dark green that emphasized the same color in her green-hazel eyes. Her dark boots were comfortable, not fashionable. On her belt hung a pouch and a black-hilted dagger in a plain black sheath. Her brown hair was cut to earlobe length. It framed a tanned face dusted with freckles across a delicate nose. Her mouth was full and decided.
The dog, known as Jump, was barrel-chested, with slightly bowed forelegs. His small, triangular eyes were set deep in a head shaped like a heavy chisel. He was mostly white, but black splotches covered the end of his nose, his lone whole ear, and his rump; his tail plainly had been broken twice. He looked like a battered foot soldier to Kel's young squire, and he had proved his combat skills often.
At the end of the hall stood a pair of wooden doors carved with a sun, the symbol of Mithros, god of law and war. They were ancient, the surfaces around the sun curved deep after centuries of polishing. Their handles were crude iron, as coarse as the fittings on a barn door.
Kel stopped. Of the pages who had just passed the great examinations to become squires, she was the only one who had not come here before. Pages never came to this hall. Legend held that pages who visited the Chapel of the Ordeal never became squires: they were disgraced or killed. But once they were squires, the temptation to see the place where they would be tested on their fitness for knighthood was irresistible.
Kel reached for the handle, and opened one door just enough to admit her and Jump. There were benches placed on either side of the room from the door to the altar. Kel slid onto one, glad to give her wobbly knees a rest. Jump sat in the aisle beside her.
After her heart calmed, Kel inspected her surroundings. This chapel, focus of so many longings, was plain. The floor was gray stone flags; the benches were polished wood without ornament. Windows set high in the walls on either side were as stark as the room itself.
Ahead was the altar. Here, at least, was decoration: gold candlesticks and an altar cloth that looked like gold chain mail. The sun disk on the wall behind it was also gold. Against the gray stone, the dark benches, and the wrought-iron cressets on the walls, the gold looked tawdry.
The iron door to the right of the sun disk drew Kel's eyes. There was the Chamber of the Ordeal. Generations of squires had entered it to experience something. None told what they saw; they were forbidden to speak of it. Whatever it was, it usually let squires return to the chapel to be knighted.
Some who entered the Chamber failed. A year-mate of Kel's brother Anders had died three weeks after his Ordeal without ever speaking. Two years after that a squire from Fief Yanholm left the Chamber, refused his shield, and fled, never to be seen again. At Midwinter in 453, months before the Immortals War broke out, a squire went mad there. Five months later he escaped his family and drowned himself
”The Chamber is like a cutter of gemstones," Anders had told Kel once. "It looks for your flaws and hammers them, till you crack open. And that's all I-or anyone will say about it."
The iron door seemed almost separate from the wall, more real than its surroundings. Kel got to her feet, hesitated, then went to it. Standing before the door, she felt a cold draft.
Kel wet suddenly dry lips with her tongue. Jump whined. "I know what I'm doing,” she told her dog without conviction, and set her palm on the door.
She sat at a desk, stacks of Parchment on either side. Her hands sharpened a goose quill with a penknife. Splotches of ink stained her fingers. Even her sleeves were spotted with "There you are, squire."
Kel looked up. Before her stood Sir Gareth the Younger, King
Jonathan's friend and adviser. Like Kel's, his hands and sleeves were ink-stained. “I need you to find these.” He passed a slate to Kel, who took it, her throat tight with misery. "Before you finish up today, please. They should be in section eighty-eight." He pointed to the far end of the room. She saw shelves, all stretching from floor to ceiling, al lstuffed with books, scrolls, and documents.
She looked at her tunic. She wore the badge Fief Naxen, Sir Gareth's home, with the white ring around it that indicated she served the heir to the fief. Her knight-master was a desk knight, not a warrior.
Work is work, she thought, trying not to cry. She still had her duty to Sir Gareth, even if it meant grubbing through papers. She thrust herself away ftom her desk-
-and tottered on the chapel's flagstones. Her hands were numb with cold, her palms bright red where they had touched the Chamber door.
Kel scowled at the iron door. "I'll do my duty," she told the thing, shivering.
Jump whined again. He peered up at her, his tail awag in consolation.
"I'm all right," Kel reassured him, but she checked her hands for inkspots. The Chamber had made her live the thing she feared most just now, when no field knight had asked for her service. What if the Chamber knew? What if she was to spend the next four years copying out dry passages from drier records? Would she quit? Would paperwork do what other pages' hostility had not-drive her back to Mindelan?
From the Hardcover edition.