First Test: Book 1 of the Protector of the Small Quartet

by Tamora Pierce

Paperback, 2000

Call number



Laurel Leaf (2000), 224 pages


Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Ilithyia
Pierce is one of my all-time favorite YA authors, I have to restrain myself from reading the Tortall books more than once a year - and sometimes I fail...

Anyway, this is the first book with Keladry of Mindalen. Although a law passed ten years ago that girls were permitted to try for knighthood if
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they so choose, no one had yet come forth to do so. Now Kel wants to try for her shield, but she'll have even more trials than Alanna (The Song of the Lioness quartet) because everyone knows she is The Girl.

This describes Kel's first year as a page, and how she struggles to be accepted by the boys and her teachers. I love these books because all of the characters are well developed. Kel and her male friends are a rich tapestry of personalities, and we have the occasional cameo by someone in the earlier books. There is also the introduction of another culture that exists in this world, the Yamini (akin to an Oriental culture), who Kel's family spent the last several years with negotiating a peace treaty - so essentially she is straddling two different cultures and struggling to fit into either of these worlds.
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LibraryThing member LibraryCin
3.5 stars

Keladry is 10-years old and it’s been 10 years since girls have been allowed to apply to be a page, in order to later become a knight. However, no girl has tried for it, until Kel. Unfortunately, the trainer of the pages, Lord Wyldon, doesn’t think girls should be allowed, so he puts
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her on a 1-year probation; no boy has ever had a probationary period. So, she is not only set apart from the others because she’s a girl, she is also on probation. This doesn’t bode well for how many of the other boys treat her.

I enjoyed this! It’s children’s or YA, so not “deep”, but certainly enjoyable. Kel did seem much more mature than 10-years old, but mostly I just ignored that. It’s less than 200 pages, so also a quick read. I definitely enjoyed it enough to continue the series. I’m happy to see there are only 4 books to this series (though it is also part of a larger “world” with other books focusing on other characters in that world, as well).
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LibraryThing member Capnrandm
A lovely re-read, this series helped ease my Tamora Pierce craving while still too close to my last Alanna/Daine re-reads to be able to do back to that series. Kelandry on her own isn't quite as unique (more of a blend of both of the prior heroines I mentioned), but I like how Pierce explores a
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character without magic succeeding in this world.
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LibraryThing member TLHelen
Keladry of Mindelan is a young girl, and the only girl to legally try for kinghthood. She is allowed to train under probation and throughout her first year has to physically keep up with the boys and endures non-stop bullying and harassment. The boys put extra weights in her training weapons, force
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her to run errands and pick fights. Kel does, however have a group of close and reliable friends who she completes her studies with and spends her evenings with. From previous series, Alanna is Kel's idol, someone who Kel looks up to, and later also become Nealan of Queenscove's kinght mistress.
Kel is a loveable character and her experiences and troubles make the story seem more real and believable. This book twists the typical 'knight in shining armor' storyline and is fun to read over again, more than once. Overall, a 4.5/5
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LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
A fun read recounting the story of Kel, a young girl who wants to become a knight, but she meets with resistance and prejudice as she takes up her training at the royal palace in the kingdom of Tortall. However, Kel is determined and manages to forge friendships and conquer her own fears. In
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addition, a few recognizable characters reappear from Tamora Pierce's previous fantasy series and First Test proves to be a promising beginning to a new series.
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LibraryThing member mossing
Keladry of Mindelan wants to become a knight. However, she is the first girl to try openly, and many people don't think she should. In her first year, she has to deal with discrimination, bullying, weighted weapons, and an unruly horse, as well as otherworldly enemies. Fans of spunky heroines,
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fantasy, and noble adventure will love this series. Ages 10-16. Recommended purchase.
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LibraryThing member thelorelei
In "First Test," author Tamora Pierce introduces her fans to the only girl to try for her knighthood since Alanna the Lioness earned her shield disguised as a man and King Jonathan threw open the knighthood to women. Unfortunately, the king has to keep his conservative nobles happy, and therefore
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consents to put our protagonist through a year of probation as a page, something the boys never have had to do.
Keladry of Mindelan is delightfully different from our old friend Alanna. Kel is blessed with different physical strengths as well as the ability to keep her emotions at bay, so while Kel still has to deal with bullies and hazing, the fact that she is practically Alanna's opposite as well as openly female makes for a very different reading experience than that of the Song of the Lioness quartet. This new series is a joy to read and I highly recommend it to young girls.
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LibraryThing member NickF.
Following in the steps of Alana 'the Lioness' is Keladry (Kel) of Mindelan, a 10-year-old is dead-set on becoming a knight like her hero. Unlike Alana though, Kel doesn't have magic to help her. Instead she has greater bulk and height, as well as training from an island where the marshal arts are
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taugh -- think Tai Chi, Judo, Kendo.
The setting is the court of King Jonathan of Tortall. The landscape has changed from that of the Lioness Quartet because of the Immortal Wars wherein magical creatures have been let loose on the world.
The other thing that is different is that much of the forward progress that Alana made has vanished. The new knight trainer, Lord Wyldon, strongly believes women and girls have no place as knights. He's so stubborn that he insists he will quit unless the King a) makes Kel's first year probationary, and b) makes Alana swear that she will not communicate with the girl during that time. And as you can well imagine, such an attitude rubs off on the boys, who are just as mean to Kel as they were to Alana in her own time as a page.

This book is great. However it gets boring near the end because they do the samething over and over again. But I like it myself because King Johnathon is giving Kel a chance. I like this because girls can be just as strong as men. What I don't like in this book though is that Alana and Daine aren't in the book as much. Overall it's a great 5/5.
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LibraryThing member livebug
I love Tamora Pierce. Love, love, love Tamora Pierce. I'm so sad that I missed her when I was reading YA books as a YA. I want to foist her on every girl I know. And yet, every time I go to read another of her books, I'm resistant at the beginning. I always expect it to be dreadful and it's always
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completely the opposite.

It's because I think I hate fantasy. Except I obviously don't hate fantasy. I just finished The Protector of the Small quartet, another series set in the kingdom of Tortall, like the Alanna books and the Trickster books, which kingdom is just crawling with mages and people with the Gift and the Sight and thus and such. And I loved it. However, Kel, the heroine, is not magically assisted in any way. She just gets up before dawn and trains with weighted weapons and does everything possible to make herself a total bad-ass in order to defend small creatures and children and servants and the like.

Tamora Pierce's books always make me proud to be a woman. It's like Clare Booth Luce said:

"Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, 'She doesn't have what it takes.' They will say, 'Women don't have what it takes.' "

These girls represent! All her heroines succeed far beyond expectation in a man's world, without surrendering their female-ness at all. They take lovers or not, as they wish, they alone decide when to marry and when to have children, they become completely fearsome warriors and commanders but with "womanly" mercy ... Dare I say it? They are great role models! Would that every twelve-year-old I hand these to is similarly inspired.
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LibraryThing member n0evly
Have ever been told the story of Jean of Arc? Well if you like that you'll love First Test by Tamora Pierce. Keladry of Mindelan, a ten year old is the first "GIRL" to attend trainning for knights in the mystical and medival world of Tortall. You'll feel like your in the book, beside Kel as you
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read through the pages of Tamora Pierce's First Test.

Keladry of Mindelan also known as Kel is the first girl to ever attend knight trainning after trainning in the royal palace of the Yamani's for six years. after arriving in in her new school in the land of Tortall, she soon finds the difficulties of being a girl in a man's world. she meets the trainning master lord Wyldon who is determined to fail her along with Joren and many others wanting the same, however there are just as many who want to help like the prince Roald and her caring sponsor Neal. Kel is placed on probation by lord Wyldon and given more to endure by her fellow pages and her teachers then any of the male pages through her first year in knight trainning. Sabotage, bullying, and sexism is part of Kel's daily schedule as she struggles to get through her first year. Tamora Pierce's First Test is like a story about Jean of Arc's childhood and represents many struggles that women have in the modern world. It's one the must read books of the year.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
Set in the Tortall universe, Keladry, like Alanna, seeks to be a lady knight, and at first the kinship with those first Pierce books featuring Alanna seems quite apparent. But openly female, Keladry faces a different set of challenges, and she's very much a different personality. I fast fell in
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love with Keladry and the stoic exterior beneath which there is a real chivalry. I particularly liked the arc of Wyldon of Cavall's character in this book.
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LibraryThing member SandiParhar
Friends have been telling me to read Tamora Pierce for years, but I didn’t want to read something where the idea of a female warrior as a main character, was shoved down my throat. But I was wrong! Pierce is a great writer who seems to make her heroines sweat and bleed to succeed. This is the
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first book in the Protector of the Small series, and is about a ten year old girl called Kel. Her dream is to become a lady knight, and she has to use her wits and her courageous spirit to overcome obstacles and prove that she has what it takes to make it. Kel is very believable and very relatable. She’s an ambitious girl, and I’m excited to read what happens next! Definitely a good read for all ages.
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LibraryThing member mrpascua
This was a refreshing story seeing a heroine in a medieval fantasy setting. I don't read much fantasy, but it usually seems to be a male dominated field for heroes. In this story, ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her
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if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight. This book would be excellent for the middle school LMC especially for young girls looking to read about a non-traditional heroine. This book is part of a series of books which the TL may also look at to include in the collection.
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LibraryThing member b00ksonthebeach
This was the first of Tamora Pierce's books I ever read, and I was instantly hooked. Keladry is a great pre-teen heroine who grows over the next four books into a great teen heroine: a great role model for girls everywhere. She's smart and fun and works hard. She's a great friend and does the
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honorable thing, no matter how difficult. Pierce writes about characters you can't help but love in stories you can't wait to read. I love her stuff!
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LibraryThing member Nikkles
Another great series by Pierce and not to be missed. I hope we get a follow up series on this one as the ending is quite as tied up as i would like!
LibraryThing member melissarecords
Kel wants to become a lady knight like her hero, Sir Alanna. The first of the Protector of the Small series sees her settling into the training regime and dealing with the jealousies and prejudices of the other pages and the training master.
LibraryThing member stargirl
The best of the tamora pierce series, followed by the circle of magic series.
Great for any girl!
LibraryThing member JenJ.
All 10-year-old Keladry wants is to be a knight, someone who can protect those who can’t protect themselves. According to the proclamation issued by King Jonathon of Tortall 10 years ago, Kel has every right to try for her shield even if no other girls have stepped forward before now. Kel should
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be able to go through the four years of page training and schooling just like the boys. She should be able to become a squire and serve a knight for four more years. She should be able to earn her knighthood like everyone else, but Lord Wyldon, the page training master, has other ideas. “Girls are fragile, more emotional, easier to frighten. They are not as strong in their arms and shoulders as men. They tire easily. This girl would get any warriors who serve with her killed on some dark night.” That’s what Wyldon thinks and the only way he will accept Kel is on a one-year probationary period – if she does anything wrong, fails at anything, she’s out. No boy has ever had to have a probation year; it’s just not fair, but Kel accepts the deal knowing the task she’s set for herself may be impossible: change Wyldon’s mind and prove she’s meant to be a knight. Wyldon is far from the only problem Kel faces: the training is grueling, immortal and magical creatures haunt Tortall’s lands, and the other pages don’t appreciate having a girl set in their midst. Kel may not have magic like Alanna, the only current Lady Knight, but all of Tortall will soon learn that Kel is not about to back down from this challenge. Kel will do whatever it takes to prove she’s just as good as any boy and she will become a knight.

Listened to the Listening Library CD edition in September 2007, but I've also read this multiple times. The Protector of the Small books are some of my favorites from Pierce; by the time she wrote these she had really hit her stride. Kel is a great character complete with flaws as well as strengths. With each set of books that take place in Tortall, Pierce increases the complexity and reality of the kingdom. The Listening Library CD was performed by Bernadette Dunne and was fairly well done although it took me a while to warm up to her interpretation of Kel's voice. I look forward to the release of the rest of the quartet on audio.

March 2010 Cover 2 Cover selection for Tamora's visit to our library!
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LibraryThing member Yona
I'm still very pleased with Ms. Pierce. Keladry's another great character.

The main source I use to see what age group a book is marketed to lists this as YA, 12 and up. I found this first book of the quartet to read more like middle grade or that 11 to 14 or 15 that straddles MG & YA which I
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labeled juvenile-ya among my bookshelves here. It lists the couple books I checked from the Song of the Lioness as 11 to 14 and that series read more like YA to me.
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LibraryThing member electrascaife
A young girl in a traditional fantasy world wants to train as a page with the boys and one day be a knight but runs into all kinds of resistance from the established patriarchy. She eventually proves her worth, of course.
Standard fare for this particular trope; it was a fun but nothing
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extraordinary. Perfect for if you want an easy fantasy read that doesn't require a lot of effort.
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LibraryThing member GlenRH
This is a good book for 6th graders to read. #1 it is about a 10 year old and begins in September. #2 It is about someone having a goal and being really committed to achieving it. #3 It has plenty of action and the things Kel has to deal with help her to grow. In short most kids will identify with
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the story.
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LibraryThing member Linyarai
I love Keladry's story almost as much as Alanna's, the trials to become a knight are fascinating and Pierce's characters are always the most interesting.
LibraryThing member Isana
Short but cute and awesome. I've read the series before but that was a VERY long time ago, so I decided to read it again. It's still as good as I thought it was before. Kel makes me so happy. She's awesomely badass. I'm madly in love with her. Guh. The rest of the characters were wonderful too. I
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don't even know what to do with myself. Neal is very wonderful and I liek how protective he is as well. It was great how they all warmed up to her. I can't wait to read Page and the rest of the books. This was the series that made me fall for Tamora Pierce and it's still good years later.
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LibraryThing member treehorse
"Virtual repeat of 1st SotL book with gender politics. Yamani add-ins were nice, as were the Owen"
LibraryThing member blparrow
Keladry is, quite frankly, the best female hero I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. Shockingly mature for her age, she faces challenges that most young girls don't have to worry about (as well as some challenges all girls DO have to worry about). As the first female knight since the
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Lioness, who masqueraded as a man to complete her knighthood, Keladry has to be strong and stoic despite her age. I would recommend this book to anyone in just about any age group. I first read it when I was eleven, and I still reread the whole series about once a year over ten years later. It has the perfect blend of inspiration, fantasy, realism, and adventure. Throughout the series there is just a hint of romance without affecting the plot or even the characters. Over all, I think this is Tamora Pierce's best series (and I do like them all).
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