Protector of the Small Book 2: Page

I finished this book the day I heard about the first women serving on submarines! Of course my first thought was, “JUST LIKE KEL!!!!” Hopefully the Protector of the Small series is required reading in Naval Nuclear Prototype Training, because I think it will really get them ready for the challenges ahead! And, you know, teach them some finer points of jousting. Hopefully no one will pee on their doors or do other mean things to drive them out like Kel is still having to put up with here in Book 2.

You’d think being finally made a “real” page and not on probation would shut everyone up, but, alas, Joren and his friends are still tormenting poor Kel. She bears it stoically as usual, and continues to work hard at being awesome. One of my favorite things about Kel is that she’s not great at anything right away. Girl works HARD to earn her spot at the top. She gets up earlier than anyone to practice and exercise, adding other exercise routines in among her duties throughout the day. Kel is Rachel’s favorite Tamora Pierce heroine and in this book I discovered why: Kel is super tall! Since this book covers ages 11-14, Kel not only grows way tall, but also gets boobs and her first crush! I’d tell you more about the plot, but it’s mostly “school hijinks, puberty, SUDDEN KIDNAPPING ADVENTURE” as if the book remembers it should have a climax only in the last chapter.

The Checklist

Animal Companion(s): Peachblossom (grumpy horse), Jump (mangy dog), a flock of sparrows
Magical Bling: Kel is not really into magic, but she does have an awesome stash of weapons and gear thanks to her mystery benefactor
Love Interest(s): Natch Kel starts crushing on Neal, her BFF, since he’s handsome, funny, and 5 years older, the recipe for a perfect crush; Cleon’s fake flirting may have turned into something more!
Song of the Lioness/Immortals Character sightings: Raoul shows up once to remind to you he exists

The Play-by-Play

Chapter one: Page Keladry
Kel saves a really ugly, sausage-stealing dog from being meat-cleavered to death by a butcher. Her gloomy servant begs Kel to hire his niece Lalasa as a maid since she keeps being sexually harassed by nobles and other servants. Apparently this will stop once she’s a personal maid? Joren is still a jerk.

Chapter two: Adjustments
Kel tries to give the dog, Jump, to Daine, but Jump just wants to follow Kel around. Kel discovers Joren and Co. hazing a first year named Owen and starts a fight. Owen helps out, mostly by bleeding, and thinks it’s “jolly”.

Chapter three: Brawl
Pages aren’t allowed to have pets but Jump pretends to be a random stray so Lord Wyldon doesn’t notice him hanging around all the time. Joren and Co. make snide little remarks about Kel being a slut and her friends RUSH to defend her honor, sparking an all-page brawl in the stables.

Chapter four: Woman Talk
Kel’s nightgown gives up the good fight in the face of her ridiculous growth spurt and her new boobs. Kel is annoyed, which Lalasa thinks is funny because “most girls pray for this”. Lalasa is continually shocked that Kel isn’t going to beat her and Kel decides to teach her self-defense.

Chapter five: Midwinter Service
Apparently the imperial princess from Yamani Prince Roald was betrothed to died in an earthquake so now they have to find a new one. Kel has to serve people at the Midwinter Banquet, but the tables she serves keep demanding a different server for some reason. Somehow it’s Joren’s fault! Kel’s friends also get tripped into spilling things, meaning all the pages have to practice with Mr. Etiquette extra every day. Finally Kel and Friends confront Joren and Co., and neutral parties agree that “the accidents have to stop”. Joren agrees, but wants everyone to know that it’s just because he’s bored.

Chapter six: More Changes
Neal has a crush on some noblewoman and Kel is totes jeal. Kel gets her period for the first time and is almost late for the Page PSAT! Neal hurries her along, saying that the penalty for being even a little late is to repeat the year. If you’re a lot late you have to repeat all four years! His saying this seems to be the point of this chapter.

Chapter seven: Hill Country
Page Summer Camp, Season 2! This time they go to Hill Country which some magistrate assured them has been “swept clear of bandits”. Surprise! He was lying! A small group of pages including Kel accidentally find a camp of bandits while hunting. The bandits chase them and everyone but Kel is too freaked out to do anything, so she starts giving them orders, leading them to a cliffside cave they can defend. Jump kills a few of them, and they hold them off with arrows and Neal’s magic. Kel’s sparrow friends bring the rest of the pages, and Kel climbs down the cliff even though she’s scared of heights. Once again Lord Wyldon is all “Now you see this isn’t women’s work and you’ll go home” but Kel’s friends tell him what is what and how Kel saved the day.

Chapter eight: Messages
Kel gets sent with a message to King J, who happens to be on top of Balor’s Needle, which apparently is a super tall, kind of unsafe tower. Kel freaks a little, but makes it up.

Chapter nine: Autumn Adjustments
The weapons classes are mixing things up after Summer Camp, Season 2. Lalasa is ace at sewing so Kel lets her work for court ladies like Kel’s sisters for extra money. Raoul talks to Kel so you remember he exists for the next book!

Chapter ten: The Squires Return
Joren, now a squire, is back! He apologizes to Kel and says he wants to be friends. Kel accepts his apology but doesn’t trust him at all. Cleon is also back! He still fake-flirts with Kel all the time, but Lalasa and I both think his fake-flirting has turned into real flirting!!! Kel ignores it because she’s clueless in MATTERS OF THE HEART. Here’s an illustrative example of all of these things after Joren starts yelling at some servant, then sees Kel and pretends to be nice to him!

“He says he’s changed.”
“I suppose he could have changed,” Neal said dryly. “I myself have noticed my growing resemblance to a daffodil.”
Kel eyed her friend. “You do look yellow around the edges,” she told him, her face quite serious. “I hadn’t wanted to bring it up.”
“We daffodils like to have things brought up,” Neal said, slinging an arm around her shoulders. “It reminds us of spring.”
“Does dung remind you of spring too, Princess Flower?” Cleon demanded irritably. “You needn’t manhandle our Kel like that.”

Jealous much, Cleon?

Chapter eleven: Unpleasant Realities
Vinson, one of Joren’s friends tries to sexually harass Lalasa, but she uses her Kel-training to keep him at bay. Kel wants to report it, but Lalasa begs her not to because his powerful family will take it out on her after Kel leaves in a year. Kel passes her third year Page PSAT and Neal once again repeats the whole “repeating all four years” punishment for being late.

Chapter twelve: Vanishing Year
Kel is bummed that she won’t have enough money to buy Peachblossom after she becomes a squire. Lord Wyldon has the pages play an elaborate game of capture the flag, and Kel is a team captain! Her team wins, natch. The rest of the year is apparently boring because we don’t get to hear about it.

Chapter thirteen: The Test
The night before the big Page SATs Lalasa makes sure Kel’s uniform looks awesome and then says she’s going to a friend’s house to work on a gown the Queen herself commissioned from her. The next morning, she’s not back!! Kel freaks out and enlists her uncle. They look everywhere for her, but the friend said she never arrived the night before. Then she gets a note that says “She is in the palace. You can find her if you look. Tell anyone and we will hurt her.” Kel knows she will miss the examinations but Lalasa is her responsibility and her friend! The sparrows lead Kel to, of course, Balor’s Needle.

Chapter fourteen: Needle
Kel is doing this FOR LALASA, so she climbs up the inside stairs of the Needle. Lalasa and Jump are both there, all tied up. While Kel is helping them, someone locks the door! Trapped! Oh, not quite, there are even scarier, less safe stairs around the outside of the tower. One of the stairs gives way under Kel and she hurts her leg but they make it to the bottom.

Chapter fifteen: Consequences
The guards captured the two guys who did the kidnapping, but no one knows who paid them yet. Lord Wyldon is there with her mom when Kel wakes up and is surprisingly nice to her. She says she’ll repeat the four years because she knows that’s the penalty. Then the Head of Page SATs announces that because circumstances beyond Kel’s control prevented her from coming to the test she’ll be tested later. Yay! Of course, she passes, and her secret mysterious benefactor buys her Peachblossom!

Previously: Book 1: First Test
Next: Book 3: Squire

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