Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Reading Madness: Protector of the Small Quartet

Now we come to the second in the series of discussions with Liz from Assorted Leafs. If you can count, and I know many of you can, you've probably figured out these were supposed to weekly discussions, written and posted weekly, in a weekly sort of format. I dropped this ball so hard, it's currently floating in a sea of magma in the Earth's core. Liz is the most patient blogging partner on the face of this planet and she deserves a medal or, in the very least, a cupcake.

This week, we're talking about Protector of the Small, the second lady knight series by Tamora Pierce. It features Keladry, the first girl in all the land who wants to follow in Lady Alanna's footsteps and become a knight. Keladry is definitely not Alanna - she has no magic and a very different background. Oh, and she gets to be a girl the whole series, instead of spending the first three books stuffing her pants with socks. 

I've dotted the discussion with more cover art from the books, but my choices were pretty sparse because this is a more recent series. Also, the original cover art kept the pictures in line with Keladry's description as something of a tomboy and the new art is like, "No, we have to make it floofy! Girls like floofy!" It's still pretty, but it doesn't reflect the series as well as the original art.

Lovely, lovely Liz is in Green and I'm in Blue.
What was your favorite book from the series and why?
Liz: I loved the second book in the series the most; the struggles that Kel faced at every turn seemed very real and gripping to me. It also showed her courage, perseverance and leadership at every stage.
Brittany: I loved the last book. It wrapped up a lot of things, but also didn’t end with Kel getting into a nonsense romance for romance-sake. Pierce is very good at not falling to the “It’s YA, Romance is Required!” schtick. Kel is obviously human - she loves and she learns and she gets hurt- but she ends the series as she started, incredibly independent and awesome.

Who was your favorite character? What did you appreciate about them?
Liz: I appreciated the presence of Neal in the books. I’m not entirely sure that he was my favorite, but I think he brought a lot of dimension to the story in...interesting ways.
Brittany: I love seeing familiar faces come back. I had completely forgotten that Daine and Numair were in this series, so the continuity of blog posts is going to go right out the window after this one. Ah well - I heart Numair, so it’s enough.

Which character would you most like to meet? What would you ask—or say?
Liz: I would most like to meet Alanna from this quartet as she’s older and perhaps wiser than the last time we saw her. I’d like to pick her brain about the role of females in their present day society.
Brittany: I would love to meet Lalasa and get some sewing lessons! I also want to know how her business is doing and see all of her amazing work.

Is the story plot or character driven? In other words, do events unfold quickly? Or is more time spent developing characters' inner lives?
Liz:I think both arguments could be made. I prefer to read the stories as character driven since it felt more like a grand coming of age story in regards to Kel, but I could see the argument being made for a story plot.
Brittany: I agree with Liz - there are significant elements of both.

What scene resonated most with you personally in either a positive or negative way? Why?
Liz: The moment where Kel had to climb the tower to save her maid. It resonated with me positively because she was able to overcome her paralyzing fear in order to save a life. It was such a badass moment.
Brittany: There are so many! I think the one that I go back to the most was Kel taking over during the fight with the bandits in "Page". Her year-mates learned that, when you're facing true danger, it doesn't matter who is what gender. 

Did you think Kel had a harder time overcoming gender barriers than Alanna did? Alanna had the benefit of hiding her gender and later revealing herself after she had proven she could be a knight, but Kel was open about her gender through the whole series. What do you think of how that played out?
Liz: I do think Kel had a harder time dealing with the gender barrier as every turn it seemed as if she was set up to fail. I think she was only set up to fail because of her gender rather than what Alanna went through with everything being more difficult because they were all ‘boys’. I think it could have played out a little better if as Kel graduated, another female or two also tried to work through the system regardless if they succeed or fail. Alanna paved the way for Kel (kind of, a rough rocky way) but I wanted to see Kel create a better way for the females who followed her.
Brittany: I also think Kel had a harder time, but I also think Kel was more focused and more determined. A lot of Kel’s “distractions” during her training years were minor compared to Alanna’s, which allowed Kel to focus more on training up her weaknesses.

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