Keladry of Mindelan and her family have just come back to Tortall from a six year diplomatic delegation stint in the Yamani Islands. One day after an attack from a group of spidrens (monster spiders) she decides it is time to begin her training as a lady knight. The only problem with that, is that there has not been a woman who has knowingly gone through training in at least a hundred years. The only reason she is able to do so now is because of the legendary Alanna, a woman who pretended to be a boy all throughout her training, alongside the current King. Although she is accepted, Kel is placed on probation on her first year, something that is never done with the boys and is completely unfair. Stubborn as she is though, she works harder than all of the boys and along with her best friend Neal and a few intelligent sparrows, she proves to training master Wyldon that she is worthy and deserving of becoming a page.
First Test is the first of Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet and a great deal different than her previous eight books set in Tortall. Unlike Alanna, the first female knight in over a century, Kel goes into training as a girl. This means that essentially the entire kingdom is against her being there and will do anything in their power to make her leave including hazing, threats, rumors, etc. Luckily, Kel has spent a good portion of her time in the Yamani Islands (similar to Japan) and has gathered techniques to keep her calm and level headed under the most extreme and trying situations. I love that Pierce made Kel that way because even the reader still knew how upset or frustrated she was, she never let that be a weakness. Kel was able to prove time and time again that she worked as hard, if not probably a lot harder to become and stay better than all of the boys that were her year mates in page training.
Pierce’s writing style is so engaging and she has just done such an amazing job building this world of Tortall that I have grown to become so familiar with. I was glad that the four books were separated into the different years of Kel being on probation, a page, a squire, and then onto a lady knight. This allowed me as a reader to grow with Kel and be just as excited as she is when she earns respect and praise by hard work and determination. Pierce is my favorite author and is one of the most amazing writers of fantasy that I have ever read. Her characters, Kel especially, are exceptional and it’s so hard not to root for her because she’s such an awesome, strong female lead.
Pierce is my favorite author of all time and I would recommend any of her books to anyone who loves fantasy, great world building, adventure, and strong female protagonists!