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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
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic begining March 2 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book and it has become one of my all time favourites. Why can't a girl become a knight? Not only does the series detail page/squire/knight training but it does so in a realistic way- this about bruises, not glamor. Entertaining, gritty and so good you'll want to read the next one in the series!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! July 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. When Keladry of Mindelan (Kel) goes to Corus to become a Lady Knight, she finds it harder than she expected. Battling against Lord Wyldon, the training master, Kel builds up a reputation for protecting the helpless. Thus, the name for the quartet,"Protector of the Small."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing June 3 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. She had her fear of hieghts to contend with, that's what makes her such a strong character! This is a great book that definetly will inspire and make you read the next in the series!
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Another great book by Tammy! May 3 2004
By Paige
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When I got this book, I thought that it would be pretty much the same as the Lioness series, but I was proved wrong. While this series has the same theme, about a girl going against the grain, trying to prove girls are just as good as guys, Tamora Pierce managed to make it completely different. The character, Kel, has her own personality, fears, and ambitions. Pierce tied many of her other characters in as well. Alanna the Lioness is what motivates Kel, along with her mother. This series isn't called the Protector of the Small series for nothing! As the story goes, Kel stands up for smaller kids, and ends up getting multiple black eyes, bruises, and trips to the "stump" for her efforts, making both friends, and enemies, along the way.
Over all, this book was funny, warm, and satisfying. I definitely recommend it to girls (and guys!) if your looking for a good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book! May 1 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of my favorite books-possibly because of the main female character, the knights, or just because of the excitment.
In this book, a 10 year-old girl requests to become a page after a proclamiton allows women to become knights. However, Lord Wyldon the training master, does not intend to let a girl slip in with the boys. After all, in his words, girls are 'fragile, more emotional, and easier to frighten'. Keladry agrees to probation, and shatters everybody's expectaitions on how good (and strong) a girl can be.
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3.0 out of 5 stars First Test Could Be Better April 4 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. I could stick to the first chapters ,but then I got quickly bored. I felt disappointed since I did like the Immortals Quartet and Song of the Lioness very much. I guess First Test really didn't fit me. But if you decide not to read the rest of the series than you are missing out on something. If you want to read some good fantasy by Tamora Pierce and you have already read her other Tortall quartets than just read books 2,3,4, and four of Protector of the Small. (If you think that whoever wrote this review is really stupid, I 'm not. It is okay to skip a book in this quartet unlike the other quartets.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars What An Awesome Book Jan. 22 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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