Review: The Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Why I chose this book:

I initially read this as a freshman in high school. It was my first true dive into fantasy other than The Lord of the Rings. I wanted adventure and a strong female character I could root for, and boy did I get what I asked for.


Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publish Date: June 7, 1999
Format: Paperback 
Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Fantasy 
Buy: B&N || Amazon || Indiebound

Summary for First Test (Book #1):

In the medieval and fantastic realm of Tortall, Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl to take advantage of the decree that permits females to train for knighthood. Up against the traditional hazing of pages and a grueling schedule, Kel faces only one real roadblock: Lord Wyldon, the training master of pages and squires. He is absolutely against girls becoming knights. So while he is forced to train her, Wyldon puts her on probation for one year. It is a trial period that no male page has ever had to endure and one that separates the good natured Kel even more from her fellow trainees during the tough first year. But Kel Is not a girl to underestimate, as everyone is about to find out...   


The 3 things you need to know about these novels:
   1. Feminism
   The main theme in this book is feminism and women empowerment. Kel is a girl thrown into a world of boys and men. As the only girl trying for her shield, she is surrounded by men and women alike expecting her to fail. She faces misogyny and bullying from her instructors, her peers, and even other adult knights throughout her time in training. These books show her journey through winning her shield and actually turning the course of events in the middle of a war. You can see this theme through actions seen by other characters, through the system of the realm (which is a quasi-feudal system), and even through sex. Love and sex is also represented well in these novels and is a great example of a woman’s choice.

   2. Female characters do not have masculine qualities
   Though having a girl try for her shield is enough of a challenge on female roles, Pierce doesn’t change the fact that she is female. Generally, if writers want to write a feminist character, they sacrifice all those frills for a more male-like brutishness in order to make the female seem strong; to me this is a counterargument. However, Tamora Pierce will have none of that. She embraces Kel’s femininity and flaunts it even. She does not sacrifice her femininity for masculine qualities; instead, she accentuates it while also bringing out her strength as a woman first and a warrior second. 

   3. Other themes
   Feminism is not the only theme tackled in this book; rather, it is one of many. This series deals with class structure, feudal systems, classism, prejudice, and racism. All of these themes are expounded upon in a variety of ways. All these themes are great for teenagers to read about since they are already dealing with them first hand. 

   Other Notes:
   I’ve read these books 3 times, and I will forever love Tamora Pierce for this wonderful masterpiece. If you loved these books, you should check out her other Tortallan series (Song of the Lioness quartet, and the Immortals quartet). They are every bit as good and deals with hard themes such as this one. Some of the best feminist YA fiction out there.

   I gave this series 5 stars on my Goodreads


  1. This series is new to me, I am excited to look into it! I love books with strong themes that were woven into the story flawlessly!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    1. This is an older series. It came out when I was in 4th or 5th grade (though I didn't begin to read it until I was in middle school). It is a wonderful example of feminist writing for any age group. I love her books with all my heart. I would highly recommend you read them! :)

  2. I can't believe that I have never read any Tamora Pierce. I'm not really a big fantasy reader, but still, I need to remedy that.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics


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