Cover of Lady Knight: Kel in her knight armor holding the reins of a horse in armor.

About the Book

Title: Lady Knight (Protector of the Small #4)
Published: 2002
Series: Protector Of The Small
Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Cover Story: So Shiny
BFF Charm: 100% That B
Talky Talk: Real As It Gets
Bonus Factors: Leadership, Cameos, Found Family
Relationship Status: My Knight In Shining Armor

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

Cover Story: So Shiny

It’s fitting to end on Kel and her persnickety horse, Peachblossom. Look how fancy they are in their full armor! Looking at them outdoors must blind you. Story time: I was just at The Museum of Art in Philly this past weekend and took a stroll through the Arms and Armor section, and as I did I was thinking of Kel (and also Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale, because…Heath Ledger), and how anyone had enough range of motion to fight in those things is beyond me.

The Deal:

All hail the lady knight! Kel survived the Chamber of Ordeal in Squire, but she can hardly enjoy her new official knight status with the threat of an all-out war with Scanra looming just beyond the first thaw, never mind all these horrible nightmares she’s been having every night about children being murdered. There’s a mage hiding in the Scanran mountains stealing away the sons and daughters of commoners and gleaning their souls to run his killing machines, and the Chamber has selected Kel to put an end to this horror. This suits Kel fine…except she has no idea where to start looking for such a person.

Things get even more complicated when she and her fellow knights get their marching orders to the Scanran-Tortall border, and Kel gets an unexpected—and unwelcome—command: protect a recently-built refugee camp of about five hundred displaced commoners. It’s a rare honor to get a command at such a young age, but despite the promise that she will see some battle, Kel is disheartened to land what she feels is merely a babysitting job, something that will tie her down when she should really be searching for this murderous mystery mage.

Taking control of tired and belligerent refugees with only a few squadrons of soldiers and conscripted convicts is going to take all of the eight years of knight training that Kel has under her belt, plus a little of that Yamani resolve, too.

BFF Charm: 100% That B

BFF charm with Lizzo's face.

I initially picked the Single White Female BFF Charm, but I don’t want to actually be in Kel’s shoes because a) she has to wear all that armor and, as we already discussed, that shit is heavy, and b) she’s fighting a literal war and I can’t wield a pen-knife. But damn if she isn’t someone I’d like to be when I grow up. Girl can fight like a boss, lead like a boss, and inspires loyalty in almost everyone around her because she deals in honesty and integrity. If I could only accomplish one of those things I’d be a lucky lady. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

This series was never really about kissing, and while Kel did have some romantic notions throughout her teenage years, right now she is in command and has zero, I repeat, zero time for pants-feelings. Neal’s cousin, Dom, one of the men in Lord Raoul’s squad when she was a squire, is around a fair bit and has wicked blue eyes, so when things calm down the time might be right…but that’s not going to be in this book, unfortunately. 

Talky Talk: Real As It Gets

This book—this entire series, really—feels so unique compared to many female-centered fantasies. There’s nary a love triangle in sight and there doesn’t have to be, because instead there are life-and-death stakes every moment of Kel’s day. Tamora Pierce isn’t afraid to get technical about the intricacies of leadership and what it takes to keep five hundred people alive and fed. It’s a lot of work, a lot of thankless work, and the author doesn’t shy away from the minutiae, but yet it never feels boring or unnecessary. Kel isn’t there to be a prop for a cause, and nothing comes easy because her talents and “specialness” don’t come simply from being The Chosen One, but from getting her hands dirty. There’s also plenty of realistic heartbreak, because, yeah, there is a war going on, and the consequences can be devastating. I bow down to Pierce’s deft and distinct writing.

Bonus Factor: Leadership

A little cartoon person all lit up standing in front of other little people who are standing in the dark.

Being a true leader is a delicate balance between doing what’s right, doing what’s necessary, and somehow, in between all that, keeping the respect of your followers. It’s messy and irritating but also rewarding and fulfilling. It was a treat to see Kel navigating this role after spending so much time trying to earn respect as a would-be knight.

Bonus Factor: Cameos

Close up of Matt Damon with piercings playing a singer in Euro Trip

My Tortall/Pierce faves, Numair and Daine, spent a lot of time with Kel in this book, and please feel free to ignore the fangirl squeals coming from my couch.

Bonus Factor: Found Family

Characters Jen Jack and Grams from Dawson's Creek standing together

Early on, Kel rescues someone from a troubling situation (you don’t earn the moniker “Protector of the Small” from just one act) and essentially becomes an adoptive mama. I loved their relationship.

Relationship Status: My Knight In Shining Armor

Book, please accept this handkerchief as a token of my undying affection. You’re the real deal and I want everyone to know that I am yours.

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

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.