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Lady Knight    by Tamora Pierce order for
Lady Knight
by Tamora Pierce
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This is the fourth book in the Protector of the Small series; the third, Squire, has also been reviewed here. Summarizing the series, Keladry was raised in the Yamani Islands and learned the warlike arts taught to women there. After six years she returned to Tortolla, obsessed with the goal of becoming a knight like Alanna the Lioness - though determined to remain herself and not pretend to be a boy as Alanna did. She was finally admitted for training as a page, and then as squire, until, overcoming all obstacles, she made her knighthood vigil in the Chamber of the Ordeal and became the second Lady Knight in the Kingdom.

Kel is now eighteen and obsessed by visions sent three or four times a week by the Spirit of the Chamber of the Ordeal, who set her the task of finding the sorcerer who is building terrible killing machines and using the souls of children to bring them to life. Trapped in the capital by a hard winter, Kel intends to ride North to Scanra as soon as the roads become passable. However, war with Scanra becomes inevitable, and Kel is trapped in her post as aide to Raoul. Although she soon does ride north, it is in company with Raoul and the King's army.

Then to her disgust, instead of being assigned combat duty, she is put in charge of a camp under construction for refugees. She finds she needs all her skills to get it completed, and the men available trained somewhat, before the first attack by Scanran forces (including some of the dreadful fighting machines). Luckily, this attack is beaten back, and the machines destroyed. The attacks continue all summer long.

As the refugees become better trained and more self confident, it gets somewhat easier to contain them, and when Kel is summoned to report to Fort Mastiff, she is not too concerned to leave her charges. But while she is gone, the camp is assaulted again by overwhelming numbers of men and machines, and falls. Although many bodies were found, four fifths of the refugees are missing, including all of the children, captured and taken away with the Scanran force. Against specific orders Kel decides she must follow, try to save them, and find the sorcerer, on whose behalf they have been captured.

Even in the earlier books, the author has not tried to hide the darker side of her medieval, chivalric society. This episode is in many ways darker still, facing up to some disturbing questions. The author herself comments on the effect the events of 9/11 may have (subconsciously) had on her. However Kel still shines through, true to herself and her ideals, and prepared to stand up for them against all odds. Lady Knight is a worthy conclusion to the series, still full of action and adventure but with a thoughtful background.

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