Title: Lady Knight
Series: Protector of the Small #4
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publish date: August 27th 2002 by Random House Books for Young Readers
In the final thrilling installment of Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series ( First Test, Page, and Squire), our sturdy young heroine, Keladry of Mindelan (a.k.a. Kel), has finally been knighted. Never one to rest on her laurels, Kel champs at the bit, ready to tackle the horrific magic killing devices she was shown in the Chamber of the Ordeal during her knighthood initiation. The huge, insectlike machines, “made of iron-coated giants’ bones, chains, pulleys, dagger-fingers and -toes, and a long whiplike tail,” feed on the souls of dead children and are systematically killing off the citizens and warriors of Tortall.
Thoroughly disgusted to discover that not only is she not going to be assigned a combat post, but she has been placed in charge of a refugee camp instead, Kel, in her usual noble, stoic way, swallows her disappointment and sets out being the best refugee camp commander possible. Of course, destiny has a way of sneaking up on a young woman like Kel, and soon she is fulfilling the ordeal the Chamber set out for her… and then some.
Kel’s won her shield, but she’s haunted by the vision shown to her by the Chamber of Ordeal. But TOO BAD, because Tortall’s off to WAR.
And Kel, despite feeling like mayyybe she should do what this scary omniscient Chamber of
Doom Ordeal tells her to, has a duty to the crown. So the scary metal monsters that are powered by children’s souls will have to wait as she goes off to war.
On the way to receive her orders, she and several other newbie knights stop at an inn. As fate should have it, Cleon stops in during dinner time! And Kel very enjoyably gets real awkward as she realizes she doesn’t have the same feelings for him that she used to.
Lucky Kel though– poor Cleon is there to awkwardly break the news that he has to go home and marry for money. He seems pretty upset about it, but Kel’s kind of relieved that she doesn’t have to worry about him trying to marry her or anything. They part as friends.
Also at the inn, Kel meets an indentured servant named Tobe who is 1) sorely mistreated by his employer and 2) has a touch of wild magic. If you haven’t already gotten the memo on Kel’s moniker “protector of the small,” this mistreatment obvi WILL NOT STAND. She goes all:
It’s not the job Kel really wants. She’d love to be right IN the action. But that’s not always what being a knight is about, so she heads off to Haven to get things under control there. At first, like most of Kel’s life, she’s not respected right away. But by being organized, fair, and listening to the people under her care, she wins most of them over. Plus, when Haven is attacked, it helps that she kicks butt.
While off on a mission delivering a report to Lord Wyldon at the fort, Haven is attacked and her people captured. Wyldon forbids Kel from following them into Scanran territory, but Kel is a PROTECTOR, dangnabbit! She defies his orders, risks death and losing her shield to try and save her people– most notably the children– from sacrificial slaughter. This scene made me all:
And because she kicks so much ass, she gets to keep her shield. Her “punishment?” Build a new camp, since Haven was basically destroyed. Kel’s not mad. She names it New Hope.
Kel being awesome quote of the book:
“Mistresses, have you ever noticed that when we disagree with a male -I hesitate to say ‘man’ – or find ourselves in a position over males, the first comment they make is always about our reputations or our monthlies?”
One of the new women snorted. Others snickered.
Kel looked at the man, who was momentarily speechless. “If I disagree with you, should I place blame on the misworkings of your manhood?”