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First Test: Book 1 of the Protector of the Small Quartet [Hardcover]

Tamora Pierce
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 7 1999 Protector of the Small (Book 1)
When Alanna became the King's Champion, it was decided that girls would henceforth be allowed to train for the knighthood. But ten years have passed, and no girls have come forward. Now, however, someone is about to change all that. Her name is Kel. In this first book in a new series from popular children's fantasy writer Tamora Pierce, we are introduced to a strong, adventurous new heroine who will win the hearts and minds of fantasy fans.

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From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Ten years after the proclamation that girls are eligible for a page's training at the court of King Jonathan of Tortall, 10-year-old Keladry applies and is accepted, but on probation, a condition never forced on male applicants. Resolutely accepting the challenge, the hostility of the royal training master, and harassment by fellow pages, Kel makes her way through this difficult year. Trained from early childhood by stoic Yamani warriors, she is capable of hiding her feelings, fearless in a fight, and willing to work hard to develop the necessary physical capacity. Her sympathy and support for the underdog and her sense of chivalry earn her the admiration of a group of fellow pages. She also befriends the sparrows that live outside her window and wins over a difficult horse. Kel performs well in her first real battle and is grudgingly allowed to stay for another year of training. The medieval/magical world of Tortall has been the setting for eight of the author's titles; in First Test, the first of a new series, this fantasy world is clear and well developed, allowing the book to stand on its own. Characters who may be familiar to readers of the previous titles are reintroduced successfully or remain on the sidelines. The scrappy Kel is an appealing and believable girl whose struggles to integrate a formerly all-male world are both familiar and freshly told. This is smooth storytelling and a satisfying read.
Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Pierce begins a new sequence of books set in her imaginary kingdom of Tortall with a new heroine, 10-year-old Keladry, who must fight her way through her first year of knight training as a page. Despite Alanna's success years before (recounted in The Lioness Quartet), both the knight trainer, Lord Wyldon, and Kel's fellow pages oppose a girl being introduced into the program, so Kel uses her wits and courage to overcome the many obstacles set for her in her probationary year. Pierce takes small liberties with her medieval setting (Kel has a privy and eats with cutlery) but does a fine job making Kel's perceptions of the concrete details come to life. Part school story, complete with bullies; part fantasy with powerful evil creatures such as the disgusting Spidren; and part animal story as Kel makes friends with a flock of sparrows and bonds with her balky gelding Peachblossom, this is a splendidly rousing feast. Susan Dove Lempke

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Idea May 30 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
(...)There is so much background information about the land of Tortall in the Alanna books that is left out of this book. I guess Ms. Pierce didn't want to repeat herself but someone reading this book first may feel the background is too sketchy.
If you love fantasy and magic (like I do) you may be disappointed in "First Test". This book has almost no magic in it and reads almost like a historical of midevil times. Actually what I thought of when I read this book was what happened at The Citadel (military college) several years ago. When they first opened the school to women there was intense resistance. The poor girl (I have forgotten her name) who was the first female "accepted" was put through absolute hell and was not able to stick it out more than a week. But she paved the way and the next girl was successful. Now a woman going to the Citadel is not even a blip on the media's radar screen.
So it is interesting in "First Test" to see how Keladry makes it through her first year of training to be a knight. The book has relevance to our times too. Even though it is similar to what Alanna goes through, there are some key differences. In fact, the diffences actually bugged me a bit. Why didn't Kel ever seem to go into town? Did Alanna have an older page sponsor? Anyway, I didn't think that was that big a deal. What bothered me much more was how bland this book and Keladry are. Not much seems to happen here so if you're looking for adventure, forget it. And Keladry is about the most boring, stoic heroine you can imagine. Actually, her personality is perfect for the first female knight-in-training but that doesn't make for a very interesting person (or book). Still, I love the way Keladry is changing minds not by talking but by doing.With her amazing courage and fortitude she is a wonderful role model for young women. Actually, a much better role model than Alanna.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What An Awesome Book Jan. 21 2004
By Kim
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Every book I have ever read by Tamora Pierce has been well written and interesting. When I read this book I was far from disapointed, in fact I think that it is one of my all time favorites from Tamora. The First Test has all the basic elements of a good action book. There are interesting enemies, awesome main characters, but there are things about this book that make it stand out. Keladry, the main character in this book really comes to life through the writing. The author really makes you understand and feel her struggles. Not only did I get to know Kel well, I came to admire her. In this book and along with the rest of the series, she has to work extremely hard to get where she wants to go. In many books the main character ends up getting breaks when things "magically" fall into place. This isn't the case here though. Kel works her butt off and in the end proves that you can do whatever you set your mind to. This book gets you hooked from the first page and takes you through the story as if you were part of it. I would definately recommend this book to anyone out there looking for a good read!
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
After reading Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic and the Circle Opens books, I knew I had to read every single book she hade wirtten. I decided to start with this series, seeing as I got the fourth book for Christmas. It fascinated me. I finished both of the two books in two days, I could never put them down. I neglected my school work often. It is a wonderful and charming tale of Kel; a girl different from most. Though you may find the plot predictable, never before had I seen a book in which the girl training to be a Knight gave up her mornings and afternoons to train her fellows. I had never seen before a girl who would not whine because the boys bullied her. She did not whine. She still maintianed her friendship with animals, even though it is a sign of weakness. Kel also gained many friends during her first year, a predictable plot would be that of she only makes one friend and then together they prove the others wrong. In small, wonderful written book that is tormented from people wh only wish to but a bad name on to a wonderful wirter. Get a life. Your just jealous.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Protector of the Small: First Test May 18 2003
By Amanda
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The story is about a young, ten-year-old girl, named Keladry of Mindelan. She wants to become a knight, just like the King's Champion, Alanna. After having read her letter saying that she would want to train at his school, Lord Wyldon tells Kel that she will have to be on probation during the first year in order to see if she can keep with the other boys'.
As unfair as it is though, Kel is determined to prove to everyone, especially Lord Wyldon, that she could be as good, if not better, than some of the boys'. However, she must surpass many obstacles in order to prove this. Not only does Lord Wyldon not approve of her wanting to become a knight, but Joren, an older boy, seems to do everything that is in his power in order to poison Kel's life and discourage her from becoming a knight.
Kel also starts receiving gifts from a secret benefactor. I think that the person giving Kel those gifts is Alanna, the Lioness, because even though Lord Wyldon said that Alanna was not allowed to ahve any contact with Kel, I have learned that Alanna always gets her way when she wants something bad enough. Sending gifts that will help Kel improve her training is a way for Alanna to tell Kel that she believes that Kel can become a knight.
In this brand new series, many beloved characters return. Among them are Daine, Numair, Alanna and Tkaa, the basilisk. This seems to be a very promising series and fans of Alanna or Daine will not be deceived.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic begining
I loved this book and it has become one of my all time favourites. Why can't a girl become a knight? Read more
Published on March 2 2012 by Joey Ouellette
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
When I got this book out of the library, I didn't want to finish it until I could go on to the next book. Read more
Published on July 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I loved this book! She didn't get through it so easily as in most books, she had to fight every step of the way. Read more
Published on June 3 2004 by "equestrian722"
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Tammy!
When I got this book, I thought that it would be pretty much the same as the Lioness series, but I was proved wrong. Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by Paige
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!
This is one of my favorite books-possibly because of the main female character, the knights, or just because of the excitment. Read more
Published on May 1 2004 by Bookworm12
3.0 out of 5 stars First Test Could Be Better
First Test is the first of the Protector of the Small Quartet which personally I think is OK. First Test I checked out at the library and tried to get into it. Read more
Published on April 4 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars My "first test" finds a shallow, uninspired tale
For years I've been waiting for a heroic fantasy novel with a female protagonist. So after listening to a brief interview of Tamora Pierce on National Public Radio, during which... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars First Test (Protector of the Small)
Lady Keladry is not happy being a lady. There is only one Lady Knight, Alanna, and it's not usual for woman to be knights. But Kel wants to be a knight. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by Myra Schjelderup
4.0 out of 5 stars AwEsOmE
I thought this book was awesome. It had great characters and had an interesting plot. Some parts get a little boring but in the end, it's great. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2003 by "malgal455"
5.0 out of 5 stars Claires thoughts
in this book of Tamara peirces uniqe writing. Kel (the star)begins her trainig as a knight. As the only female at the school learnig to be a knight, she faces teasings problems... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2003 by "care-bear"
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