Protector of the Small Book 4: Lady Knight

This is the last book in Kel’s Protector of the Small series! AND Kel herself remarks about how ridiculous “Protector of the Small” sounds, something that’s been bothering me all month, so I’m happy she agrees. Also, this was the first Tamora Pierce book I’ve read for this project where I legitimately didn’t know ANYTHING that would happen or how it would end. True, I’d only read the very end of Squire so it had some surprises for me, but obvs you know she’s going to be a knight since the next book is called Lady Knight. I tried to make predictions for this book based on what I generally know about Tamora Pierce series and what was foreshadowed in Squire. Here’s what I thought was going to go down:

1. War with Scanra and more of those scary metal monsters! Kel will, of course, have to find the mage and kill him, as per her destiny, probably at the end of some big battle in which a bunch of her friends die.
Just like: Alanna killing Zombie!Roger during the magical earthquake and Daine killing Stormwing!Ozorne during the Battle of Legann
2. Most of those dead friends will be people we meet in Lady Knight since it is less work to kill off a character you’ve just met (pretty much for that sole purpose, like red shirted Star Trek guys).
Just like: Dead Liam, Dead Darkings, so many random soldiers
3. One important character from the whole series, however, will get Dumbledore’d to make you sad.
Just like: Faithful the Cat, Rikash the Stormwing, Thom (kind of–no one ever really liked Thom)
4. Kel will realize her OTL has been here all along and live happily ever after!
Just like: Alanna and George, Daine and Numair (gag)
5. Minor character marriages for all!
Just like: King J & Thayet, Coram & George’s Cousin, Sir Myles & George’s Mom, Daine’s Mom & Lord of the Dance

And, if pressed, my predictions for who would pair up with whom would include Neal and Yuki, and Kel and Dom. Kel and Cleon are clearly doomed as a couple since he is already engaged. I’m almost positive Lord Wyldon is going to get Dumbledore’d since his death would be tragic, surprising, and piss Kel off enough to kick some ass. Plus, I love his gradual acceptance of Kel, so I’m sure he’ll have some touching last words about how she’s better than ANY BOY or whatever. Also, Harry Potter and Joss Whedon taught me that people I like are DOOMED so I’ve started expecting it. I was also expecting at least one of her beloved animal companions to bite the dust a la Faithful the Cat.

I was pretty surprised when a lot of my predictions turned out to be wrong! Good job mixing things up, Tamora Pierce! I also didn’t anticipate at all the role Lord Wyldon assigned her: commanding a refugee camp. Unfortunately, this isn’t the boring job Kel expects because Tortall’s army apparently sucks and the enemy gets through ALL THE FREAKING TIME. The refugees at first hate Kel, but then she teaches them how to fight, and they come around to how awesome she is. All the while Kel feels guilty because the Chamber of the Ordeal told her killing that mage and getting rid of the metal death machines was her job, but she also can’t leave the refugees. Eventually she sees her duty clearly, even though it means treason, and sets off into enemy territory to see about things.

Middle School Patricia would have hated this book. There’s not enough magic, and too much being dirty and worrying about normal things like clean water. Plus, there was almost zero love connection between anyone. Since I am now all about Kel, however, I really enjoyed seeing her taking command. Oh, also, she acquires a lovable street urchin!

The Checklist

Animal Companions: Peachblossom (horse), Hoshi (second horse), Jump (dog), sparrows, plus lots of other random animals, thanks to Daine
Magical Bling: Stylish griffin feather headband lets you see through illusions!
Love Interests: Cleon and Kel are still sort of in a long distance relationship; still crushing on Dom
Old Friends: Raoul is, natch, also in this war, although he’s at one of the forts; Daine and Numair come around to help out a few times

The Play-by-Play

Chapter one: Storm Warnings
Kel keeps dreaming about the mage making the metal monsters. Warlod Maggur is now king of Scanra, so he has every clansman to throw at Tortall. Kel sneaks back into the Chamber of Ordeal to try to get some deets, but it tells her it doesn’t understand human time. All she finds out is that the mage’s name is Blayce.

Chapter two: Tobe
The army’s riding north! Prince Roald misses his fiance Princess Shinkokami and Neal misses Yukimi, who is apparently More Than A Crush. At the inn they stop at, Kel walks in on the innkeeper beating one of his indentured servants, an orphan boy whom Kel is pretty sure has wild magic with horses. Kel buys the boy’s indentured servant contract, cleans him up, and buys him clothes. His name is Tobe, and at first he thinks Kel must be “drunk, or takin’ a drug” but promises that if she doesn’t send him back to the innkeeper he’ll help her “carry your wine jug, an’ cut the poppy brick for you to smoke”. Best servant ever! Kel has him help her with the horses and clean weapons instead.

Chapter three: Long, Cold Road
Kel finally sees Cleon again! But realizes she’s not in love with him. That’s good, because he’s leaving to marry that rich heiress to save the Family Farm. Kel and the others report to Lord Wyldon for assignments. Lord Wyldon tells her to finish building and take command of the refugee camp, and she is mad that it’s a “dungheap assignment” because she’s the girl, but he says really she’s the only one who cares about commoners enough. Owen, Lord Wyldon’s squire, apologizes to Kel for not warning her and then seriously promises to do anything–anything–for her. This would be way weird if I weren’t sure it’s a set up for Owen to come help her in some future time of need.

Chapter four: Kel Takes Command
Neal is going to be the head healer at the refugee camp! It’s already looking good, although refugees don’t live there yet. Some of the soldiers there are convicts, and Kel stops the sergeants from whipping them. One of them is Gil, one of the hillman Kel fought in Book 2! He tells everyone how badass she is.

Chapter five: Clerks
Refugees show up with Numair! At first, they’re jerks to Kel, but she wins their trust. Numair and Kel have a weird accidental hypnosis encounter for the sole purpose of Numair telling her that mages can hypnotize you with something shiny. Enemies attack!!! Everything seems okay until two scary killing machines start climbing the walls!

Chapter six: Defense Plans
Don’t worry, Kel’s got this. With a little help. She decides to build nets to trap the machines next time. Numair warns that Blayce uses necromancy to put child spirits into the machine, so the refugee camp is like a big fuel source for him.

Chapter seven: Tirrsmont Refugees
Numair does some protection magic, leaving a secret passage for the animals to escape as per Daine’s orders. One of the new refugees is an arrogant merchant who is mean to Kel! Everyone hates him.

Chapter eight: First Defense
Daine made all the forts animals and some wild ones smart like humans so they can spy and help out. She teaches Kel and others voice commands and to understand the animals’ signed answers. Another attack! But, again, everything is good. The trained refugees are getting pretty good at fighting.

Chapter nine: Mastiff
Kel goes to make a report to Lord Wyldon. The fort on the other side of the camp has fallen but Lord Wyldon gives Kel some more soldiers.

Chapter ten: The Refugees Fight
Aww, the refugees missed Kel! Some of them teach her to plow, when horns sound another attack! Kel orders the plowmen to get their bows ready and they kill the bandits without Kel or the soldiers’ help! Yay! Self-esteem!

Chapter eleven: Shattered Sanctuary
Kel has to go report to Lord Wyldon again, but is worried about the camp if she leaves. Her friends urge her that now that the refugees can fight it’ll be fine, like they don’t know this chapter’s called “shattered sanctuary” or something. Kel goes and then Tobe arrives in the middle of the night after running through the forest to say they’d been attacked. Yep, everything is burned and a lot of the soldiers are dead. But they don’t find nearly enough bodies, meaning the Scanrans took captives! For slaves and more war machines! Still, a bunch of Kel’s soldier friends are dead and she’s sad and angry.

Chapter twelve: Renegade
Lord Wyldon doesn’t care about following their trail, he wants everyone back to the fort. Kel is pissed, and decides to go rogue to 1) find her people, and 2) fulfill her destiny and kill Blayce. She knows she’ll be executed for treason when she gets back but doesn’t care. Wyldon groans because, duh, should have seen that coming. Raoul rolls his eyes at Wyldon, secretly gathers together Dom’s squad, and orders them to follow Kel and then do whatever she says. Neal and Co. also decide to follow Kel, as well as Tobe and Owen. Everyone blunders off into the wilderness “secretly” looking for her.

Chapter thirteen: Friends
They find her one after the other the next day, she tells them to go back, but of course they refuse. Owen tells Kel that Wyldon knows the enemy is planning a huge attack in a few days, which is why he couldn’t go after the refugees. They hide from patrols, who apparently suck at their job, and get to the river border.

Chapter fourteen: Vassa Crossing
Don’t worry about crossing the river. Neal was Alanna’s squire, so he knows all about George’s smuggling operations.

Chapter fifteen: Enemy Territory
They have all these dog, cat, and bird scouts, so they know when enemy soldiers are coming. Kel decides to stop any she can to help out Lord Wyldon’s forces. They find the men guarding the slaves and use the dogs and cats to smuggle knives and lock picking equipment to the captives, plus sleepy time tea to the guards. The former refugees are fiesty, and soon free! Yay! Unfortunately, the child catcher and his children aren’t with them. Kel sends most of the refugees and some soldiers back, the others go on with her.

Chapter sixteen: Opportunities
They follow the child catcher and children to a castle + village. Kel uses her magical griffin feathers a few more times, and they fight a few more magical death machines. The village people have a girl seer with them who calls Kel “the Protector of the Small” and urges them to help her since she’s going to kill Blayce. The villagers all hate him for killing their own kids, and tell Kel that first he’ll give them nice clothes and a good meal and toys, lulling them into a false sense of security before killing them to use their ghosts. Naturally, this only pisses Kel off more.

Chapter seventeen: The Gallan’s Lair
The villagers help Kel and some soldiers sneak through a secret passage! They free the children and let them escape through the passage, then block the doors to the barracks and let the other soldiers in through the gate. Battle time! Kel decides to go off alone in the middle of the battle to find Blayce and of course has to fight the child catcher first.

Chapter eighteen: Blayce
Blayce tries to convince Kel that he was being forced to use his necromancer powers like that, but of course, she knows that is total BS. Then he tries to mage hypnotize her with a shiny thing, but Numair warned her about that so it doesn’t work! He tries to fight her with magic, but she kills him! Later she finds a bunch of her soldiers, refugee friends, and animal friends are dead, but no one from the past three books. Finally they get back to Tortall, and of course Raoul and Wyldon are waiting for them. Raoul tells them he totes beat Maggur’s army a few day ago, and all the killing machines mysteriously stopped working. Owen apologizes to Lord Wyldon for getting his horse killed, but says he can’t apologize for his betrayal because he’d do it again. Lord Wyldon tells him to stop being so dramatic, and forgives them all because, obvs, he wanted to save the refugees too.

“You have every right to yell at me, my lord,” she said. “Go ahead. I deserve worse.”
Wyldon took a step closer to her, cupped her head in both hands, and kissed her gently on the forehead. “You are a true knight, Keladry of Mindelan,” he told her. “I am honored to know you.”

Yay!!! Kel’s “punishment” is to build another refugee camp and command it.

The crops are in at Kel’s new refugee camp! She’s going to one of the forts to see Raoul marry Buri and Yuki marry Neal. The seer girl tells Kel that Neal’s daughter will try for the knighthood in the future, which is amazing and I hope I get to read about it! Kel is happy not to have love concerns like her friends, but is happy she’ll get to see Dom. THE END?

Weirdest ending ever! Not only does Kel not have an OTL, but nobody super-important died! So much for all of my predictions. You win again, Tamora Pierce.

The Protector of the Small Series
Book 1: First Test
Book 2: Page
Book 3Squire
Book 4Lady Knight

Next I’m leaving Tortall to read The Circle of Magic Series! Book 1 is cleverly titled Sandry’s Book.

2 responses to “Protector of the Small Book 4: Lady Knight”

  1. […] a surprise to no one. This book also starts to foreshadow what is going to go down in the sequel, Lady Knight as Scanra, the country on Tortall’s northern border, starts getting restive, sending raiding […]

  2. […] « Protector of the Small Book 4: Lady Knight […]

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