Series: Protector of the Small #2
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: May 23rd 2000 by Random House Books for Young Readers
As the only female page in history to last beyond the first year of formal training to become a knight, 11-year-old Keladry of Mindelan has an uphill battle to fight. In addition to proving herself worthy of being a page, Kel spends her time defending first-year pages from bullies, staying on top of homework, conquering her paralyzing fear of heights, and keeping up with Lord Wyldon’s grueling physical training schedule. Kel’s detractors do everything in their power to thwart her progress, from tormenting her friends to sabotaging the Midwinter Festivities to kidnapping her maid and dog on the day of final examinations. The tide of resistance begins to turn slightly during the summer between Kel’s second and third years, when she leads a team of pages in defensive maneuvers against renegade bandits–coincidentally on the same day that she gets her first period.
Kel returns to the Corus pretty dang pumped about the fact that she gets to return. Things are still tough not only because some of the boys still refuse to accept that a girl has a place there, but because the training’s getting tougher. Joren and his cronies attempt to start their bullying up again, but Kel hasn’t forgotten them and they give that up pretty quickly when she and her friends confront them again. Joren pretends to turn over a new leaf after that and he’s all smiley and nice, but –DON’T TRUST HIM, KEL, HE’S AWFUL.
Kel also hires a servant at the behest of one of the other servants– Lalasa. Lalasa is timid beyond all words and Kel is frustrated with her lack of assertion from time to time. They’re extremely different people and don’t “click.” But when she finds out that Lalasa is frequently sexually harrassed, she demands that Lalasa learn some defense maneuvers. Among Kel’s other “adoptions” this year: a scruffy-looking dog named Jump, who is kind of awesome and smart. Just like Kel’s horse, Peachblossom! It has to do with the fact that Daine, who we all love and adore lives in the castle now– it makes the animals smarter.
And remember how we like Neal? Well Kel likes him too. LIKE likes him. But he’s her best friend, Neal is always pining after other girls, and Kel decides to keep her crush to herself.
Honestly this year is relatively tame– well as tame as things get in Corus anyway. UNTIL the day when Kel’s hard work is about to pay off: her final page examinations. She’ll fail if she doesn’t attend, but someone’s kidnapped Lalasa and Kel has to save her. SO NATURALLY, knowing her fear of heights, the bastards who kidnapped Lalasa stashed her at the top of Balor’s needle, this crazy high tower that she avoids at all costs. And if that wasn’t ENOUGH, once she (and Jump) find Lalasa, the assholes block the indoor staircase so that they have to climb down the outdoor staircase, which is ummm… RISKY. Said staircase is quite rickety.
But they make it because you know what?
Kel is all despondent, thinking she’ll never be a knight now, but because of extenuating circumstance and Wyldon is not a total douchenozzle, he makes an exception for Kel and she HANDLES that biz-nass. ONTO SQUIREDOM!
Kel being awesome quote(s) of the book:
‘“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.”
“Well, if I don’t fight back and they pound on me, then I’m one of the people I should be defending.”’
“‘Gods curse it, Kel, you heard what he said!’
‘I heard a fart,’ Kel said grimly. ‘You know where those come from. Let it go.’”
“To her astonishment, Lord Wyldon clasped her shoulder warmly. “Gods, Mindelan,” he said, “I would you had been born a boy.”
When he walked on, Kel followed, thinking, But I like being a girl.”