Title – Author: First Test – Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: May 2000
Series/Standalone: Series – Protector of the Small #1
Format – Source: Paperback – Library
After the famed Alanna the Lioness paved the way for girls to become knights, Keladry of Mindelan becomes the first girl to train for her knighthood. Along the way, she’ll make friends and enemies and face terrible prejudice.
After binging and re-reading Tamora Pierce’s Immortals quartet, I was in such a Pierce mood that I decided to finally pick up the Protector of the Small quartet from my library. Oddly, this is my first time reading this series. I think I was saving it because I knew it would be my last Tortall series (until she writes more).
Keladry of Mindelan is a very different heroine from what I’m used to in Pierce’s books. She’s not guided by the gods like Alanna, Daine, and Aly. She doesn’t have superior magical skills like Alanna and Daine; she’s not a super spy trained by Tortall’s elite like Aly. She’s an ordinary girl who likes to fight and wants to defend her country. And that’s what makes her so damn likable. She has to work hard to achieve her goals. Not that Alanna and Daine don’t work hard, but it’s different when you’re born with certain advantages or you have the support of the gods. Kel is supported by no one. Her family accepts her choice and loves her, but they’re not in the palace with her while she’s training to defend her.
I hated how prejudiced everyone was against Kel. First off, she’s forced into a probationary period during her first year as a page, where her training master Lord Wyldon will decide if she can stay to train as a knight after the end of the first year. So simply by being there she’s already treated differently than the boys. Then she has to deal with bullying from other pages and prejudice from the people living in the palace. I wanted to shake all the bigots.
There are good things about her first year, though. Her sponsor, Nealan of Queenscove, becomes her best friend. He’s sarcastic, dramatic, and loyal. As the year progresses, other pages and her year-mates start to warm to Kel and soon she has a tight group of friends who help her face down the bullies.
First Test is the start of another fabulous Tamora Pierce series.