Review: Squire by Tamora Pierce

‘So long as there nobles and commoners, the wealthy and the poor, those with power will be heard, and those without ignored. That’s the world’

I’m not crying. You’re crying. I think this entire series is just punching me right in the feelings. I love Kel. I love Tortall. Oh I told you this was a review? Ah okay, I’d better crack on so.

Keladry of Mindelan dreams of becoming squire to the legendary female knight Alanna the Lioness, a hero straight out of story. But Kel is chosen instead by Lord Raoul, a leader of men and a strategist – an unexpected honor that shocks her enemies.

Kel must hone her skills and discover what it takes to be part of the royal guard. Part of a team.
With this change comes another: a new romance, bringing with it the rush of first love and the unexpected challenges of balancing duty and love. All the while, Kel prepares for her biggest challenge: the infamous and terrifying Ordeal – the last challenge standing between her and knighthood.

A powerful classic that is more timely than ever, the Protector of the Small series is about smashing the ceilings others place above you.

In a landmark quartet published years before it’s time, Kel must prove herself twice as good as her male peers just to be thought equal. A series that touches on questions of courage, friendship, a humane perspective – told against a backdrop of a magical, action-packed fantasy adventure

I don’t know what it is but dammit Pierce’s writing just gets better with every single book I read by her and just when I think she has done something I have never seen before I get proven totally wrong in my thoughts. I see now why I chose to review the Immortals Quartet as one work. It’s so hard to not give all these books five stars when they all are so strong together. But I have chosen to review each one so, lets go ahead and get into why you need to read this.

This is the first book in the series that begins to deal with the more political side of court life as Kel is exposed more to these things due to her duties as a Squire. She at one point attends a court trial from events in the last book. Kel at one point gains an audience with King Jonathan and challenges him on the outdated rules and laws that still exist in Tortall. I personally think that this is a welcome element to the story. Not only to show how Kel is growing up and how she is going to have to see these things all the time as a Knight but also since it does show that tortall is not run by noone and not without struggle.

Another element that really helps the world building in a very unexpected way is the discussion of sexuality and contraception. I have always wondered from my own reading and my own experiences of using different contraceptive methods over the years is why can’t you prevent pregnancy using magic? Surely someone has managed it? And they have ladies and gentlemen! Kel gets a boyfriend and her mother advises her of how as someone who has chosen a path outside of the standard being a Lady then she can kinda do what she wants but to be careful . She advises her to get a charm to prevent pregnancy until she is ready. Like, how easy is that to add into the story as a small little world building element and just use it as a means to normalise sex and sexuality? Simples.

Kel is finally seeing her hard work pay off after years of hard work, bullying and mockery. She is finally Squire to a Knight master. That Knight is not however Alanna the Lioness as she hoped. One of the best damn things in this book was Kel’s relationship with Raoul. There is a wonderful moment where Kel has to mend her sheets and while chatting to him he just starts sewing them up with her. I honestly am thrilled to just read a man that is comfortable in his masculinity and sexuality that he just gets on with things.

There are literally no complaints here from me about this book. I think this stands a chance of replacing the Immortals quartet as my favourite. There is literally a minor pacing issue with how th story ends but that is really me nitpicking and looking for things that might be worth giving out about.

I should read Lady Knight which is book four soon. I’m honestly thinking of doing an overall series discussion anyway so I can go into spoilers and gush a little bit more. Do let me know if you have read this and if you love Jump the little doggo as much as me. Thanks for checking in and happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Review: Page by Tamora Pierce ( The Protector of the Small)

If we pick a fight, then we’re just as bad as them. Combat should be used just to help people who can’t defend themselves, period.

This seems to officially be a Terry Pratchett and Tamora Pierce stan account these days (more on the Discworld Project next week). I picked this up directly after finishing First Test so you can imagine how much that shows I’m enjoying this series.

As the only female page in history to pass the first year of training to become a knight, Keladry of Mindelan is a force to be reckoned with. But Kel’s battle to prove herself isn’t over. She must master
her paralyzing vertigo, the gruelling training schedule and the dark machinations of those who would rather she fail.

But in times of danger, Kel shines.

The kingdom’s nobles are beginning to wonder if she can succeed far beyond what they imagined. And those who hate the idea of a female knight are getting desperate – they will do anything to halt her journey.

A powerful classic that is more timely than ever, the Protector of the Small series is about smashing the ceilings others place above you.

For some reason and I can’t place why, this book reminds me a lot of reading Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb. Now this is nowhere near the level of grimdark that Farseer reaches but I think it might be that this time, the time scale of Kel and her training is sped up significantly. First book of course did cover that year of probation that Kel had to suffer through and this book covers from her second year as a Page to when she is finishing her exams to progress to a Squire.

As a result of that, we get to see Kel as she matures into a teenager. Within a world like Tortall, you wouldn’t expect to see in depth about the joys of puberty and every thing that a young girl might experience during that. But you forget, this is Tamora Pierce. This books are different. I was so relieved that there was a good detailed discussion about periods. Yep, this book has details about getting periods among other details. What a relief! I don’t think I can think of one fantasy book that details this without the value being around virginity/purity. Nope, this is your normal, inconvenience of having one when you really don’t meed one. And there is a discussion about them with Kel and her maid Lalasa which needs to be more common. Something small, I know but anything that will destigmatise basic bodily functions is fine with me.

Since there isn’t a lot of world or expansion of the world building of the previous book, this book functions mostly as both a character study and a coming of age story for Kel and her friends. We obviously get the period stuff I mentioned but just other small things that add to the other characters growth too. Her changing feelings for Neal being one and her discovery of a solid, female friendship with Lalasa as well. This is probably the part I loved the most. Lalasa is a welcome addition to the story and watching Kel teach her physically how to defend herself while reminding her that harassment is never okay and has to be challenged, well, it felt very relevant to be honest. Even more so at the moment.

As far as the story is concerned, it is as tight and concise as the first. I felt the climactic point of the plot was both obvious while also kind of being a thing that I didn’t think would happen. That Keladry succeeding threatened others that much and that they had to be so malevolent about it. The last few chapters were so gripping that I was getting worried while reading it and even if it does seem like she is always going to make it sue to the quartet existing, I still had my doubts for a second. That to me is great plot work.

I can’t move on without the mention of best boy Jump. A dog is a welcome addtion to any story, especially such a good boy like him. I really liked seeing even Lord Wyldon make a tiny fuss of him and agree he was vital to the entire castle. Thank you Tamora Pierce for not having the dog die as well. I don’t care if that spoils the book, I know others will want to know.

I haven’t picked up Squire yet just due to some mood reading and blog tours but that and Lady Knight will be up next on my TBR very soon. I will have considerable space after recent revelations. Thanks for reading this review and happy reading. Most of all know, I hope everyone is safe, practicing self care for their mental health and is doing okay.

★★★★.5/5

Review: First Test by Tamora Pierce (The Protector of the Small)

‘I’ve watched Lady Alanna fight for the crown. I saw her majesty and some of her ladies fight in the Immortals War. I know women can be warriors.’

I’m back! Apologies for my sudden absence, a combination of work and personal things coupled with the world being totally on fire at the moment have lead me to fall behind on the review here. Well I’m back with my journey to Tortall and the first book in The Protector of the Small quartet.

Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl who dares to take advantage of the new rule that allows women to train for knighthood.

But standing in Kel’s way is Lord Wyldon the training master, who is dead set against girls becoming knights. A woman should be lovely. A woman should be charming. A woman should not be deadly.

Wyldon demands Kel pass a one-year trial that no male page has ever had to endure. It’s just one more way to separate Kel from her fellow trainees. Kel must prove herself twice as good as her male peers just to be thought equal. But she is not to be underestimated.

Kel will fight to succeed, even when odds are stacked against her. Book one of a powerful and classic fantasy quartet about smashing the ceilings others place above you, by the bestselling author of the Song of the Lioness series and Tempests and Slaughter.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows how much I loved my read of the Immortals quartet last year that returning to this world was highly enjoyable for me. I love Tamora Pierce’s writing from my first read of Wild Magic and I feel it only gets better with each series.

This book expands on the world building of Tortall from the previous 2 series but there is no issue for a reader to begin reading from here. There are details and spoilers from the Immortals quartet as well as appearances of characters from there and the world left changed after the Immortals War. It’s a nice reward for anyone who has read it but it really makes the world larger and we learn of the Yamani Islands which are based on Japan and Japanese culture. Kel having spent time there gives us some brief insight into their traditions and ways of living.

Kel is only 11 in this first book but already she is pretty fearless. During the constant harassment from the male Pages, her training mater and the general struggle of becoming a Knight, she doesn’t give an inch and refuses to compromise. From the start of the book she is clearly a character that is more aligned with Alanna than Daine where she is more physical and commonly sports black eyes and bruises from various fights. I think out of all the characters Pierce has written, Kel is one I relate to the hardest. I’ve so often been in the situation (as many people have) that I’ve had to work harder just to get what I want and it’s refreshing she is not a ‘chosen one’ either.

We met some other great characters along the way. Besides the reappearance of Daine, Numair and other big names, there is the introduction of Lord Wyldon and Kel’s main ally, Nealan of Queenscove. Clearly Wyldon is as biased as he is tough but I thought by the end of the book, he certainly took on a more relatable light and changed a lot. I like seeing characters change their attitudes and just grow out of them. It needs to be normalised a lot more in fantasy books. Neal is hilarious and a great friend to Kel but there is clearly some set up here for later books I feel with his character so I’ll talk about that as I read on.

This is a nice quick read with a smooth cohesive plot that really works as both a primer for the world and a refresher for returning reader. I am giving it such a high rating for mostly enjoyment purposes but do still think this is a very solid first book for a series. Also, Kel saves kittens. She was a fave right there and then.

Thank you for bearing with me fellow readers. Rest assured I have a lot of stuff coming up these next couple of weeks including my review of the second book in this series, Page. So keep an eye out for that and do tell me, are you a fan? Have you read this series? Happy reading everyone!

★★★★★/5