First Test: Book 1 of the Protector of the Small Quartet Hardcover – Jun 7 1999
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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.
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 LempkeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Reading it now, after so many years, I found that I understood a lot more than I did back then. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to enjoy a book the same way as I did the first time I read it because I can no longer discover it; having a faulty memory did help with the reread, though. It makes me sad to think that if I had read it for the first time now, I could've enjoyed it that much more because nothing beats exploring a book for the first time (and understanding everything in it on the first go).
The beginning is what made me feel as though the plot would move too quickly and be without depth (which is typical of children's books), but after a few chapters I was able to immerse myself into the world and the pacing settled down perfectly - although that doesn't mean that I had an easy time putting the book down. The ending, while not abrupt, felt as though it could've done with more of a lead up, though, but it was a good one (although not so good at the same time since I remembered it differently).
The characters are absolutely wonderful, too. It took me a while to remember characters since many of them were introduced in groups, however seeing them a few times helped make them memorable since they all behaved in their own special ways. Neal is my absolute favourite; his sarcasm and his joking attitude always make me smile, and I became fond of him really quickly.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved this book and it has become one of my all time favourites. Why can't a girl become a knight? Read morePublished on March 2 2012 by Joey Ouellette
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 morePublished on July 17 2004
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 morePublished on June 3 2004
(...)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. Read morePublished on May 30 2004
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 morePublished on May 3 2004 by Paige
This is one of my favorite books-possibly because of the main female character, the knights, or just because of the excitment. Read morePublished on May 1 2004 by Bookworm12
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 morePublished on April 4 2004
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