Keladry has finished her page training, she’s passed her exams and now she’s a fully-fledged squire. Which is great – except that you can’t really be a squire if no knight will take you on.
But Kel’s luck is in. After weeks of waiting, a knight-master has come forward. A true warrior to follow – if she can cope with the gruelling life on campaign. Bandits are renegade centaurs are just what she’s trained for – it couldn’t be better. But eventually Kel will have to return and face the Chamber of the Ordeal, the final test of a squire. One boy has already died in the chamber this year…
He grinned as Kel made a face. "When people say a knight's job is all glory, I laugh, and laugh, and laugh," he said. "Often I can stop laughing before they edge away and talk about soothing drinks."
My favourite book in the Protector of the Small series, Squire is an adventure. Becoming squire for Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie’s Peak, the Commander of the King’s Own (and one of Alanna’s closest friends in Song of the Lioness), changes her life immediately. One moment she thinks no one would ever want to take her on as a female squire, next she’s fighting centaurs, raising griffins, and learning how to lead others.
I love Raoul and Kel’s relationship. It’s grown since they first met in First Test and there’s now mutual respect and understanding between them. Raoul sees Kel’s potential and knows exactly how to teach and motivate her, even though she can’t see the same bright future for herself.
It was nice to see Kel develop in areas outside of her knight’s training. While her romantic interest may not have been my first choice, the dynamics of her starting a relationship with a fellow squire, and maintaining it throughout distance and obstacles, were an interesting addition to Kel’s story. We also got to see more of Kel’s family and their relationship and spent a lot of time with the King’s Own and the people in Raoul’s world. As Pierce notes in her acknowledgements, the popularity of the Harry Potter series showed publishers that young adult novels didn’t have to be short and snappy to be popular. It was wonderful to have an extra hundred pages to sit in this world and experience it for longer. The characters feel richer and more developed, nothing feels rushed, and I’m grateful for every extra page.
Travelling with the king, competing in tournaments, helping villages hurt by natural and unnatural events, all with Jump and her sparrows by her side, this is an exciting chapter in Kel’s journey.