Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: August 27, 2002
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Series: Protector of the Small #4
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
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*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for First Test, Page and Squire*
“You are the Protector of the Small. You see real people in the humans and animals overlooked by your peers. There will always be work for you.”My Thoughts
― Tamora Pierce, Lady Knight
Keladry of Mindelan has finally achieved her life-long dream of being a knight. But it’s not turning out as she imagined at all. With the land of Tortall at war with the Scanrans, she has been assigned to oversee a refugee camp. But Kel has had a vision in the Chamber—a vision of the man behind the horrific battle machines that her fellow knights and friends are now fighting without her. She is torn between a duty she has sworn and a quest that she feels could turn the tide of the war. . .(Goodreads)
Wow! What a finale for such an amazing series! Lady Knight had to be my favorite book in the Protector of the Small series (although Squire was right up there too). The rest of the series interlaced the positive with the negative, offering the ups and downs of a kingdom on the brink of, and eventually in the midst of, war with the Scanrans (Tortall's barbaric neighbors in the north). Yet Lady Knight was the darkest read of the entire series, offering an eye-opening view of the war and its casualties. I was not surprised in the slightest when my friend Amanda informed me that Pierce's writing was influenced by the 9/11 tragedy (which occurred during the creation of Lady Knight). The darker scenes made more sense to me after realizing the influence.
While Lady Knight had its dismal parts, this did not decrease my enjoyment of the final installment. I still enjoyed it immensely. Where there is war, there is going to be suffering and loss, and Pierce's depiction of Tortall was very realistic. Throughout the whole book, I was cheering for Tortall, and my faith in humanity was rekindled when even the weakest of individuals wanted to defend their home. Kel was placed in charge of a refugee camp, and while she was unhappy with her assignment, she made the best of her situation. She encouraged the refugees to fight, showing them how to defend themselves with weapons and training them just like she had done with her maid Lalasa and the younger pages. She was an inspiring heroine, as she cared for her charges and felt responsible for their well-being.
Once again, I loved all of the old characters, such as Neal, Owen, Merric, Dom, Lord Wyldon, Jump, Peachblossom, and Raoul. I especially loved the children in Lady Knight, including Kel's new servant Tobe. As always, Kel is driven to help the small, vulnerable individuals that cannot defend themselves from bullying and abuse (hence the title of the series). I was able to sympathize with Kel because she is such a compassionate leader who never takes advantage of others. She cares deeply for animals and others, and I appreciated her selflessness and devotion.
There were a few unsavory characters in this book, but there always has to be a villain. The reader can't help hating Blayce and his dog Stennum. Lady Knight reveals the darker side of humanity, a side that is willing to sacrifice so much for a shameful end, and a side that can hardly be called human. The book shows how war can never be divided neatly into black and white, the bad guys and the good guys. Even on the Scanran side, many of the soldiers are just following orders and it leaves Kel's forces torn when they must take action. It is hard to clearly define right and wrong in this book. It is all a matter of opinion. There is a similar issue with the immortal Stormwings, magical creatures with human faces and metal wings that urinate on fallen men in the battlefield, cake them in dung, and then roll in the mess. Kel is sickened by this behavior, even when it comes to the Scanran corpses. But the Stormwings cannot help their behavior because it is their nature. Lady Knight certainly raises some disturbing, thought-provoking questions.
As for the ending, all I will say is that it ties up all loose ends and was a feel good ending. The end provided closure. It left me feeling happy and upset all at the same time. I was happy because I loved this series and was grateful that I had finally read it. But I was upset that it had to come to an end. There were many touching scenes, and the reader gets to see how many people truly love Kel. Throughout the series, Kel has developed a following, and in Lady Knight, many of Kel's friends proved how much they really care.
If you have yet to read this series, I would recommend it to people of all ages and to fantasy lovers especially. Tamora Pierce is a wonderful writer, and while this was not my favorite series of hers, I still loved it. Now, I just need to read the Immortals series.