Goodreads: First Test
Series: Protector of the Small #1
Published: June 7, 1999
Ten years ago the king of Tortall decreed that girls would be allowed to train as knights. Not a single girl took advantage of the new law, until now. Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindelan is determined to become a hero so she can protect the weak and small. But until she can achieve her dream of becoming a lady knight, she has to make it through one year of probation as a page and prove to the training master she can be as strong and brave as the boys.
First Test is a true celebration of female power. Keladry of Mindelan is the embodiment of a “strong female heroine.” While not as brash or sassy as her predecessor Alanna (Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet), Kel exhbits confidence, perseverance, and an admirable determination to do what’s right. She’s a heroine readers will be pleased to meet.
The book takes readers through Kel’s first year as a page (on probation). While the training itself is challenge, Kel’s major difficulties come from the discrimination and harassment she fights as the only female in the training program. Pierce does not gloss over the forms of crassness and downright cruelty such discrimination can take, but Kel maintains a firm belief in herself that keeps the tone of the novel optimistic.
A diverse cast of likable characters, ranging from Kel’s wise-cracking sponsor to her feisty horse, also add heart and humor to the book. Readers will enjoy meeting these characters, as well as getting glimpses of old favorites from Pierce’s other Tortall series.
First Test is basically a YA fantasy must-read. Exciting and empowering, it will appeal to anyone who loves a good adventure story and strong female leads.