Protector of the Small Book 3: Squire

Reading this book was a little bit weird because I know middle school Patricia stopped at Book 2, but I also vividly recalled the last few pages of this one. I’m pretty sure I was just so desperate to see if Kel finally, finally got to meet Alanna, the only Tamora Pierce heroine I cared about, that I went to the library and read the end. I know, it’s a little bit shameful. Reading the end before the rest of the book is considered a dueling offense in many librarian circles.

Anyway, for the first time since starting this project, I went into a book not really knowing what to expect. Obvs Kel must become a knight at the end since the next book in the series is called >Lady Knight, but beyond that I had no clue what would happen! In case you’ve forgotten from Alanna’s quest for knighthood, the way you become a knight in Tortall is:

1. Be a page
2. Be a squire
3. Take a ritual bath and get instructed in chivalry by two knights
4. Stay up all night in vigil in the chapel without speaking
5. Go into the magical nightmare chamber of the ordeal and quietly survive whatever it throws at you

This book covers steps 2-6 for Kel, plus her first boyfriend, a lot of jousting, and near constant insults from random jerks. Some of the loose ends from Book 2, Page are tied up when the noble who paid hitmen to kidnap Kel’s maid and ruin her Page SATs is caught, his identity 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 parties and creepy magic metal monsters to wreck up the place. At the beginning of the book, Kel is worried that no knight will choose her as a squire since Alanna is forbidden to speak to her in case someone tries to call shenanigans on her legit skillz. Luckily, Alanna’s old friend Raoul, Commander of the King’s Own, steps in, finally becoming a main character after two books of reminding us who he is. Raoul is pretty tough, but practical and fun, which pretty much describes Kel too.

I can see why Middle School Patricia got fed up before reading this book since, at the time, Kel and Co. were just not dramatic enough for her. She was frustrated when people who were mean to Kel were not SWIFTLY and IMMEDIATELY punished or shown the error of their ways, as would have happened in Song of the Lioness. I think she was annoyed that Kel and her story were a little too much like how things go in the real world. She probably should have just stuck to fanfiction. Now, of course, I really appreciate Kel’s forthright attitude, and the fact that not everyone is immediately her friend or even agrees with her in the end. It doesn’t stop her from kicking ass. Oh, she also briefly gets a pet griffin. It’s way annoying.

The Checklist

Animal Companions: Peachblossom (horse), Jump (dog), Griffin Baby, Sparrows
Magical Bling: Some griffin feathers!
Love Interests: Neal, briefly, leftover from Page; Cleon, for real reals; Dom, a slight unrequited crush
Old Friends: Raoul, of course, and Daine shows up a lot to help with this baby griffin problem

The Play-By-Play

Chapter one: Knight-Master
Welcome to the brooding practice court of backstory! Kel is sad because no knight will pick her as squire, but then Raoul picks her! Neal has been picked by Alanna because she can also teach him to heal with his magic. Kel is totes jeal, but Neal complains about Alanna’s temper. She’s just mad that no one can be as awesome as her, Neal!

Chapter two: The King’s Own
Flyndan, Raoul’s second in command, is annoyed that Raoul now has to “babysit” Kel, but everyone else seems pretty nice, especially Dom, Neal’s cute cousin! You know what they say, Kel, if you can’t have the guy you want, his cousin is almost as good. Lerant, the standard bearer, is also jealous because he thinks Kel will usurp his jobs.

Chapter three: Centaurs
Centaurs attacked some village! Some humans in the village helped them and ran away too!

Chapter four: Owlshollow
On the centaur-bandit trail, they capture one of the humans from the village, who tells them the centaurs plans in exchange for Raoul not beating his face in. They spread out to trap them in a town! Flyndan is in charge of Kel, so of course he gives her a lame job of watching this secret trail no one even knows about anyway. Of course, a centaur tries to escape down it and she kills him. She sees movement in his pack and finds a baby griffin! Ruh-roh! Griffins can smell their baby on anyone that touches it and will hunt you down and kill you! Looks like Kel is marked for death.

Chapter five: The Griffin
Griffins DEMAND to be hand fed and can rust metal and break leather and rope with their beaks. Also, they poop a lot and bite everything within reach, but Kel is solely in charge of him till Daine finds his parents because no one else will touch him. Kel dreams about Joren, the old bully, to remind you who he is.

Chapter six: Lessons
Raoul starts jousting with Kel to teach her how, but mostly she spends a lot of time flying out of her saddle. Some women in the baths try to get her to leave her abusive boyfriend when they see all her jousting bruises.

Chapter seven: Old Friends
She sees Neal again and realizes she is no longer crushin’, then feels guilty for being fickle. Cleon is still flirty and Kel is oblivious. Looks like the Yamanis have found a replacement imperial princess for Roald, Kel’s old friend Shinkokami! She brings another old Kel friend, Yukimi, whom all the boys are in love with. The King’s Own are way busy, but Kel hears that the noble who paid hitmen to kidnap her maid Lalasa last year has finally been caught so they go back for the trial.

Chapter eight: The Price of a Maid
Surprise, it was Joren! Duh. It took them so long to catch him because he was staying on his father’s lands, which, apparently, is like Notre Dame in that you can scream “SANCTUARY!” and no one can touch you because you’re a noble or something. Duke Turomot, the Head Page Tester, is the judge! The hitmen both point to Joren, but his lawyer is all “These hitmen will say ANYTHING” but Joren is apparently sick of the trial because he starts carelessly admitting things. His argument is that nothing is as criminal as A GIRL in a MAN’s job. The judge is annoyed and fines him a lot of money, but Kel is pissed that all he gets is a fine. Apparently that’s the law.

Chapter nine: Midwinter Luck
Kel asks for a private audience with King J and demands that he change the law. King J wearily explains how a feudal system works, but promises to try. Kel and her squire friends have to serve at Midwinter Parties! Raoul hates parties because people are always trying to marry him. Kel helps Prince Roald and Princess Shinkokami find love, and Cleon surprise kisses her!!!!

Chapter ten: The Great Progress Begins
The King’s Own is off on adventures again, and Kel meets George and wonders why Alanna is married to him. Middle School Patricia is totes with you on that one, Kel. Finally King J demands that Raoul join them on Progress, which is basically like a traveling party around the country, ostensibly to introduce Shinkokami to everyone. Owen is bummed that he’s finally a squire but no knights have picked him so he’s stuck assisting Sir Myles like a secretary instead of hitting things with sticks like a real man.

Chapter eleven: Cleon
Kel comes across knights insulting Raoul so she challenges them to a joust! Cleon thinks she didn’t like the kiss at Midwinter because she’s been avoiding him. She’s worried about what people will say, but he whisks her worries away with more making out. Raoul finds them in a “totally just an innocent visit nothing to see here!” position and warns Kel that getting involved with men she works with will probably lead to awkward problems, then tries to have “The Talk” with her before she freaks out and demands that they just talk about jousting. Kel talks to her mom instead and her mom tells her that, unlike noble ladies hoping to make a good marriage, she doesn’t have to guard her virginity and should just do what she wants. Then they talk about contraception. MAGIC contraception!

Chapter twelve: Tournament
Oh right, that knight Kel challenged. She beats him but he’s still pissed, natch, and says “You won’t live until the Ordeal! One of us will spear you through your bitch’s heart.”(231) Another jerk knight challenges Kel, and this time dishonorably tries to kill her before she beats him. Daine finally has the griffin’s parents! Which is great because he is still super annoying! They take him, and give her a bunch of griffin feathers in payment. More people keep challenging Kel, and she wins 2/3 of the time. Cleon and Kel are still making out in secret, and he jokes about her dying a virgin.

Chapter thirteen: The Iron Door
It’s Midwinter, time for Squires who are old enough to do the bath/vigil/ordeal thing, including Cleon! Vinson, one of Joren’s old friends who once sexually harassed Lalasa, comes out of the Ordeal Chamber all bloody and demanding an audience with King J and Judge Turomot and everyone. He confesses to raping and killing some common girls as more wounds randomly appear on his body. He screams a lot and demands that they “Tell the Chamber I confessed… Make it stop hurting me!” But the Chamber is super magic and no one can interfere with what it wants. Joren blames Kel for some reason and threatens her. Kel feels guilty that Vinson wouldn’t have killed those girls if she’d reported his treatment of Lalasa, but Buri, Commander of the Queen’s Own, cheers her up by telling her Lalasa teaches city girls self-defense in her dress shop now. I think this is mostly to remind you that Buri exists.

Chapter fourteen: Friends
Raoul is annoyed that he has to go to a family party where everyone will be trying to set him up with eligible widows or whatever, and Kel suggests he take someone, and that someone be Buri since they are friends. That night, crazy Joren’s Dad bursts into Kel’s room trying to kill her because the Chamber of the Ordeal opened on Joren’s DEAD BODY! And it’s Kel’s fault? Luckily a mostly-naked Raoul and an all-naked Buri burst in from next door to stop him. Lord Wyldon resigns! He feels guilty about Vinson and Joren, blaming his training for what happened to them. He apologizes to Kel for the unfair probation and treatment!

“Sir, I learned so much from you,” she said at last. “You’re the kind of knight I want to be.”
He regarded her with the strangest expression in his eyes. “I am not,” he said. “But that you believe it is the greatest compliment I will ever receive.”

Okay, Wyldon, you were kind of a jerk at first, but now I think we can be BFF. Or, since you would be having none of that, nod respectfully to each other from a distance. Kel asks Wyldon to take Owen as his squire, and Owen is overjoyed to be free of Sir Myles’ endless paperwork. Cleon is pissed when he thinks Dom is flirting with Kel.

Chapter fifteen: Tilt-Silly
Kel feels guilty about being attracted to Dom when she is so totally dating Cleon now. Kel gets mad at Cleon’s constant “You’ll die a virgin” jokes and demands to know what he would do if she took him up on it. Cleon doesn’t think they should have sex before marriage, and Kel is all “MARRIAGE WHAT EW NO WHAT?” and then reminds him that he’s already engaged to a rich heiress because his family is so poor. WHAT? This is the kind of love-drama that I read for pretty carefully so I’m SHOCKED that I didn’t know about this before. Kel, what are you doing, he is clearly not your OTL! Some girls ask Kel about becoming a knight after seeing her joust and she gives them advice. Yay possibly more books about lady knights!!

Chapter sixteen: The North
Scanrans are attacking Tortall! Sort of! The general demands King J change the route of the progress for protection. Everyone goes north to fight since someone named Warlord Maggur is uniting Scanra’s clans making them even more dangerous fighters. Raoul, Kel, and the men build a fort and fight some bandits.

Chapter seventeen: The Kraken
Griffin feathers let you see through illusions if you wear them on your head, apparently, which helps Kel out in battle. Dom is hurt, so Raoul names Kel in charge of his squad. Jump and the sparrows FREAK. Someone thinks it’s just a cat, but then it turns out to be a giant metal magic insect monster come to attack them. They manage to tie it up, and hit the weak spot on its head. Then a weird ghost thing that calls “Mama?” in a child’s voice comes out of it and it dies. Whaaaat is this new creepiness? It’s like Tamora Pierce has finally figured out that Zombie!Roger wasn’t scary because, hello, he didn’t want brains, and Stormwing!Ozorne was really just a smelly magical bird. But creepy children are ALWAYS creepy and make the best bad guys.

Chapter eighteen: Ordeal
Kel and Raoul leave their fort finally because they have to be at the palace at Midwinter for Kel’s ordeal! Kel is afraid that Raoul won’t be able to find a second knight willing to chivalry-school her before her ordeal, but Judge Turomot, who apparently is also a knight, wants to do it, plus keep vigil with Kel because he’s sick of people saying she’s cheating and trying to invalidate his Page SAT Testing. Kel’s old Yamani friend Yuki is worried about Neal! Love connection?? Neal, of course, survives and is knighted. Everyone else does fine too until it’s Kel’s turn! She has to face all her nightmares, but then at the end the chamber itself starts talking to her, showing her an image of a dirty mage making those magic metal monsters with dead child spirits! The chamber tells her it’s her task to stop it, then kicks her out. Kel is knighted!!!! Yay!!!! Lady Alanna can finally talk to her!!! She gives her a new sword and reveals, to the shock of no one but Kel, that SHE is the mystery benefactor!!!

Next up: Lady Knight
Previously: Page

3 responses to “Protector of the Small Book 3: Squire”

  1. […] First Test: Protector of the Small Book 1 Protector of the Small Book 3: Squire […]

  2. […] 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 […]

  3. Elouai says:

    I just wanted to know I loved your hilarious summaries of The Lioness and Immortals books (which you didn’t finish?). I loved those series when I was in middle school as well. A lot of Tammy fans love their Alanna tho, boy were they mad when I suggested she was a Mary Sue. Cuz, she was the FIRST kick-ass, magically powerful, chosen by gods lady knight of Tortall.

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