Good morning all! Welcome to August and the month in which I take over Tortall– I mean, take over PierceFest to showcase the Protector of the Small Quartet.

So let’s kick things off, y’all! We’ll start at the very beginning, which, to hear Julie Andrews tell it, is a very good place to start.

first testTitle: First Test

Series: Protector of the Small #1

Author: Tamora Pierce

Publish date: June 7th 1999 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Source: Borrowed from library

Buy it from: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound | Books & Books

Goodreads summary:

In the medieval and fantastic realm of Tortall, Keladry of Mindelan (known as Kel) is the first girl to take advantage of the decree that permits females to train for knighthood. But Kel is not a girl to underestimate…

Recap:

Okay, so as we start the book things look all hunky-dory. Our favorite ginger lady knight is PUMPED because someone else– another girl– wants to join the ranks. Sure, it was made a decree that they could back when she was a baby knight, but no one’s taken advantage yet! Lunacy. Alanna’s all adorably excited about having someone to mentor, until training master Lord Wyldon poo-poos on her parade and fights the decree. The king and Wyldon come to an agreement: Keladry of Mindelan will be permitted to train, but unlike other pages, must undergo a probationary year. And Alanna will not be permitted contact with her.

Naturally, Alanna takes this well and storms out.

Kel is understandably disappointed when she gets the news, but my girl rallies. Her decision to go through training comes when she FIGHTS OFF A FREAKING SPIDREN TO SAVE A KITTEN.

So, yeah, it’s off to the palace we go where Kel is introduced to her room and the rules of her training. And I want to punch Lord Wyldon for his patronization, but you know… dem’s da breaks. Kel heads off to her room to find things have been turned upside down, it’s been ransacked, and oh yes… SOMEONE PEED OUTSIDE HER DOOR.

Boys are gross.

And Kel’s almost stuck with the (scum of the earth) obvious instigator of the hazing, Joren of Stone Mountain as her sponsor page until Nealan of Queenscove steps in and takes her under his wing instead.

…We like Neal, guys. He’s hilarious and smart and… we like him.

So yeah, the year goes on. Kel does the normal training, bears up under the hazing like lead-weighted lances. When she finds herself having difficulty with the physical training, she devotes her little free time to fixing it, by running up a ridic hill after training and seeking out advice from a female Shang warrior– who wisely imparts the torture advice of push-ups to strengthen her arms.

She and her friends take to patrolling the halls to stop Joren and his cronies from the hazing that they, without fail, take too far. Typically senior pages ask younger pages to do things like fetch a book for them. Simple tasks. But Joren and his crew tend to smack the book out of their hands repeatedly. Do their best to make them cry. Kel started off fighting them alone, ending up with bruises galore. But by the end of the book, as her friends help her, the serious hazing has almost stopped.

Okay, one thing I have to hand to Lord Wyldon: when he finds out about Kel’s crazy-bad fear of heights, he’s actually pretty cool about it. Doesn’t lord it over her, but does incorporate it into her training when they go to the page training camp so that she can learn to manage it. Another thing that happens at training camp? Oh, yeah. Kel faces down a Spidren again, but this time she’s with other pages and the men of the King’s Own. And again, she emerges victorious.

It won’t surprise you (but it sure surprised Kel), that, at the book’s end, she’s permitted to stay as a page– no longer a probationary one.

Kel being awesome quote of the book:

“You’ll see. I’m as good as any boy. I’m better.”