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The Great Big Carousel Of Progress

In Squire, Tamora Pierce asks if it ever gets old watching a woman put a sexist man in his place. The answer is no, no it doesn't.

The Great Big Carousel Of Progress

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the third book in the Protector of the Small series, so if you haven’t read First Test or Page, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up in the library by the pool with the first book before continuing.

BOOK REPORT for Squire (Protector of the Small #3) by Tamora Pierce

Cover Story: Head In The Clouds
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Meat And Potatoes
Bonus Factors: Old Friends, Girl Power, Animal Friends
Relationship Status: My Commander

Cover Story: Head In The Clouds

Kel is now up in the clouds because she’s conquered her fear of heights like a boss. The griffin and the sparrows do have big storylines, so it’s appropriate they have center stage on this cover.

The Deal:

Kel was left a squire without a knight at the end of the last book, but she doesn’t have to wait too long before she gets a sweet, sweet offer: be the squire to Raoul of Goldenlake, Commander of the Third Company of the King’s Own. This opportunity coincides with the start of the Great Progress, a multi-year tour around the lands of Tortall so the king and queen can introduce the people to the heir-apparent, Prince Roald, and his Yamani betrothed, Princess Shinkokami. There’s also ample opportunity for battle as the tribes of neighboring Scanra begin to ally together under one leader and start skirmishes on the Northern border, testing Tortall’s defenses. All in all, Kel is suddenly much more enthused that these next four years will not see her laboring away as a scribe to a sedentary knight.

But at the end of her squire-ing looms the Chamber of the Ordeal, Kel’s final obstacle to earning her Knight’s shield. For some would-be knights, they don’t leave the Chamber alive, and Kel is hoping against hope that this won’t be her fate too.

BFF Charm: Yay

Kel is playing the video game of life on Paragon mode. Because I can see inside her head, I know she’s just a teenage girl who goes through periods of self-doubt and exhaustion, but if I was someone just working around the castle, I may secretly think she’s superhuman. She’s basically growing up to be Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones, and I do love me some Brienne. Can we make this crossover happen?

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

After spending years tease-flirting with Kel, Cleon finally puts his money where his mouth is and declares his feelings. The two have a cute romance, but I never felt particularly invested in their relationship—this is no Numair and Daine.

Talky Talk: Meat And Potatoes

This was the perfect point to pivot away from the minutiae of being a page to learning more about the society Kel will end up protecting as a knight. As Raoul’s squire, she’s privy to conversations between leaders and given a chance to be heard. Through her and the Great Progress, we traverse the countryside and get deeper into the politics and power struggles of this fictional kingdom. Once again, despite being published sixteen years ago and taking place in a feudal, fictional world, Pierce manages to make things relevant as we witness the ongoing struggle between the progressives and the conservatives. I cheered as Kel inspired girls to dream outside the norm and raged along with her struggle against outdated laws and the sometimes unfair justice system, which, as a knight, she’d be required to uphold. There was so much to unpack in this book, making it one of Pierce’s most socially complex to date.

Bonus Factor: Old Friends

It’s super satisfying to revisit characters you’ve enjoyed from previous stories and see them continually growing and changing. The people in charge now were the youngsters in the Song of the Lioness series (think Raoul, Buri, Gareth the Younger, obvs King Jonathan); even Daine from the Immortals series is now an “adult” in Kel’s eyes. I loved the contrast between how initially awed Daine was with King Jonathan versus Kel, who hasn’t had an opportunity to know the man behind the crown and is less than impressed by his choices.

Bonus Factor: Girl Power

Kel no longer has to deal with outwardly hostile teen bullies, but now instead has to every day “prove her worth” to a bunch of sexist knights and soldiers who think she’s sleeping her way into power. Sounds sadly familiar. You won’t see me shedding any tears* when she knocks them (literally) off their horses. 

*Except maybe happy ones

Bonus Factor: Animal Friends

I probably make this a bonus for most of Pierce’s books, but who cares because it feels right. At times Kel has a veritable menagerie following her around, and I love all the awesome animals we interact with, even the irascible baby griffin. From interviews and author’s notes it seems like Pierce is a massive animal fan, and I don’t blame her one whit for writing herself a world like this.

Relationship Status: My Commander

In battle, there are leaders and followers. Leaders need to inspire and cajole, challenge the status quo and comfort. If I had to into war, I’d want you there spurring me on, Book, because I know that you’d fight to keep everyone safe.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Squire is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.