Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: May 23, 2000
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Series: Protector of the Small #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
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*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for First Test*
“Neal had a gift for making someone want to punch him just for saying hello”My Thoughts
― Tamora Pierce, Page
Kel fights to maintain the rigorous regimen of a page while confronting the prejudices that come with being a female in a man’s world and coping with a crush on her closest friend, Neal. (Goodreads)
Let me begin by saying the synopses for this series are not the best. The longest one I found on Goodreads was ridden with spoilers (at least what I consider spoilers), so I decided to avoid that one.
In Page, Book 2 of the Protector of the Small series, Kel is no longer under probation. She has returned for her second year of training as a page, and has taken many of the people in court by surprise, including her training master and fellow pages. They had expected her to give up the previous year under the pressure of bullying and rigorous training, but Kel finished with flying colors. Now, she finds herself feeling differently about her friend and fellow page Neal, noticing his good looks while she wishes he could feel the same way. She also finds her gender brings some unwelcome changes. While new challenges present themselves, Kel discovers that Joren and his crew are not finished with their bullying, and Kel feels honor bound to defend first year pages from their unfair hazing. She makes new friends, but she still has to prove that a female can hold her own as a page. An opportunity to show her leadership skills presents itself when a group of bandits attacks some of the pages during a summer trip. Kel must take charge in order to save their lives.
Page was just as enjoyable as First Test, if not more. I loved reading about all of the pages again and their antics, and I was happy to hear about new arrivals, such as Owen and his younger cousins. Once again, Neal was one of my favorites. I found his crushes on court ladies amusing, especially his horrible poetry and romantic spirit. It was also nice to see Cleon return as a squire, and his praises and pet names for Kel always brought a smile to my face. Owen was a wonderful addition to the series. I found his bravery, or stupidity, in facing Joren and his bullies admirable, especially given his small size and inexperience. He was a loyal friend and very entertaining. It was so touching to see how Kel has found a place among the pages. She has made lasting friends and is able to enjoy herself and ignore, or fight off, the more hostile pages. And I can't forget to mention Lord Wyldon. He may be a bit of a "Stump," as Neal likes to call him, but he's grown on me. It is often difficult for people to change their mindset, and Wyldon is one of those individuals. But I like to think he is coming around, and he does care for his pages and is a fair training master.
I adored Kel as always. Her fighting spirit and dedication to her training made me respect her even more. Despite her nobility, she shows compassion for servants and commoners, which may be due to her family's recent ennoblement and her time spent among the Yamanis. While her new servant Lalasa has her annoying moments with her timidity, I grew to appreciate the bond that forms between Kel and Lalasa, a rare connection for a servant and a noble. Plus, Lalasa has had a rough past, and her confidence increases as she spends time with Kel. Kel is so good to her servant, and that made me love her even more. Plus, she makes new animal friends. Jump had to be one of my favorite characters even though he was a dog. He was a formidable opponent in times of trouble, and he stuck to Kel's side no matter what. The sparrows, Jump, and Peachblossom proved to be faithful companions as always, and I loved how the Wildmage Daine was mentioned again. Any book that sheds a positive light on animals rises in my favor.
As for the pace, Page was faster paced than First Test. Instead of covering one year, Page covers three years of page training in a small book. This is the complete opposite of the Harry Potter series, where one year is covered in a sizable read. Whether or not this quicker read is for you depends on what pacing you prefer. Much of Page is summarized, skipping over some scenes and fast forwarding through large periods of time. One chapter it would be winter, and then suddenly, it was spring. The pace didn't deter my enjoyment because I realize that three years of page training could be repetitive and slow, and Pierce wants to move us toward Kel's squire years in the next book. But I was upset that Kel's final examinations were barely touched upon because it is a large stepping stone from page to squire. Though I did appreciate the more detailed moments filled with action. And then my favorite scenes had to be ones shared with Kel and her friends, conversing casually or joking around.
I'm almost finished with Squire, and then it's onto Lady Knight. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series so far, and recommend it to any fantasy lovers. Tamora Pierce does not disappoint.