Series: Protector of the Small #3
Published: May 1, 2001
When Keladry of Mindelan is chose by the legendary Lord Raoul to be his squire, the conservatives of the realm hardly think she’s up to the job. But Kel quickly proves her mettle as a jouster, warrior, and guardian of a fiery griffin, earning respect and admiration among the men, not to mention the affection of a fellow squire. As she deals with the challenges of a new romance and a life in the royal guard, Kel also prepares for the infamous “Ordeal,” the last challenge that stands between her and her dream of knighthood….
Tamora Pierce’s books continue to impress me each time I read them. I read and reread the Protector of the Small series as a child, but my return to it as an adult has not left me any less impressed. Pierce’s ability to capture the problems of feminism while telling a fantastically engaging story set in a world of knights, mythical creatures, and magic should earn her a place among the most respected of young adult authors.
Squire is the third book about Keladry of Mindelan’s quest to become Tortall’s first female knight after the proclamation that makes doing so legal. While the first two books explore the discrimination Kel faces from her fellow pages and the general challenges she faces as a knight-in-training, Squire sets her up to face the world at large. Those who know her personally finally realize she has earned her place among the men—but there are a lot of conservative knights in the realm who continue to doubt her ability and would like to test her skill themselves.
Kel continues to face challenge after challenge with her characteristic perseverance. She believes in herself, which is often more important than the faith anyone else places in her. Pierce never trivializes the obstacles that Kel faces; she continues to her earn fair share of bruises and to make embarrassing, sometimes costly mistakes. But Kel always picks herself back up and learns from what she does wrong, which make her an admirable heroine.
Kel also continues to differentiate herself from her heroine, the knight Alanna the Lioness (from Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet). While Alanna often operates as a lone roaming hero, Kel shows promises as a leader, demonstrating there is not just one way to be a female knight.
Squire is an excellent installment in the Protector of the Small series. It includes just about everything one could want from a strong fantasy novel—knights, magic, adorable animal companions, pageantry, romance, and challenges—while making all of these elements seem wonderfully new.