1. Mockingjay -Suzanne Collins
4. Page -Tamora Pierce
5. Where Things Come Back -John Corey Whaley
6. Squire -Tamora Pierce
7. Beautiful Darkness -Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
8. Lady Knight -Tamora Pierce
9. Cinder -Marissa Meyer
10. Trickster's Choice -Tamora Pierce
11. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
12. Trickster's Queen -Tamora Pierce
13. Halfway to the Grave -Jeanine Frost
14. Tortall and Other Lands -Tamora Pierce
15. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer -Michelle Hodkin
While reading Page it occurred to me that I don't have a least favorite Protector of the Small book. I could pinpoint which books were my least favorite in the other two series but not with this one. I adore them all.
In a very Tamora Pierce paced move, Page covers the last three years of Keladry of Mindelan's time as a page. So, 254 pages covers three years (I know, I'm forever about the length). They are a very entertaining 254 pages.
I feel like it is really in this book where some of the differences between Kel and Alanna crop up. Generally speaking, I try not to compare but it's difficult not to. In each Alanna book the trials that she faces are all heavily magic related. The Ysandir, Roger, becoming a Shaman, and Chitral are all magic related obstacles, which makes sense considering a large part of Alanna's journey is becoming aware of and okay with her own power. The challenges that Kel faces are far more, I don't want to use this word but I will, mundane.
I'm not saying that her trials are simple but they're not mythological. She's fighting to prove that girls can work just has hard and be just as strong while dealing with bullying, and bandits, and her fears, and in Page, the kidnapping of her maid. For example the two big events in Alanna the First Adventure are Alanna saving Jon from the sweating sickness and their fight with the Ysandir. In Page, Kel's big events are leading the defense against a band of bandits and missing the big examinations due to her maid being kidnapped. This could have been a problem. It could have made her series dull in comparison to Alanna. Somehow Pierce escapes this. These smaller scale issues only serve to make Kel easier to relate to.
I still love Kel. She's still amazing but I will say this, I have never seen her as the age that she is supposed to be. I tend to write things like this off as both different circumstances have aged the characters and my desire to be the characters paired with my being 23. However, at the end of Page Kel is only 14. I have the hardest time associating Kel with ever being anywhere remotely close to 14. It doesn't bother me all that much but I am a little thrown each time her age is mentioned.
Kel's character is made even more human in Page. She protects those who need it but not always without hesitance. She considers more than once shaking some sense into Lalasa but always feels bad. Kel considers being selfish but never manages it. She loses her temper (well, as much as Kel ever does) but regrets and then controls it. She's a wonderful, strong character without feeling unreal or unattainable.
Page shows a little more of what I love so much about Tamora Pierce. The character interactions. Kel and Neal have one of my favorite character relationships. They're probably my favorite non-couple. I've always felt that they should be one but are not. More on that at a later date. They balance each other so well with Neal's dry wit and silliness and Kel's determination and practicality. It's great seeing how Neal worries about her, even more than her other friends. It's just subtle enough that you know he cares without being clubbed with it. They're constantly trying to do what's best for the other even at the expense of ticking the other off. We see so much of Kel struggling and training that the moments she jokes with Neal are that much better for their lightness.
Including one of my favorite interactions between two characters potentially ever:
"He says he's changed."
"I suppose he could have changed," Neal said dryly. "I myself have noticed my growing resemblance to a daffodil." The other pages snorted.
Kyle eyed her friend. "You do look yellow around the edges," she told him, her face quite serious. "I hadn't wanted to bring it up."
"We daffodils like to have things brought up," Neal said, slinging an arm around her shoulders. "It reminds us of spring."
I love that whole scene so very much. It's just so very them.
Obviously my love for Neal has not dwindled. I adore him and his drawling wit and his dramatic reactions to things. Oh Nealan...
We get the chance to see Raoul, Jon, and Gary in this book. We get to see a bit of the humor we've come to love in Raoul from the Alanna books. Gary appears briefly and is as distracted as ever in his work. And Jon. Oh Jon. Just like in First Test, he doesn't even seem like the Jon that we know. He's a king that Kel will serve but hasn't decided if she likes him or not. Even after their scene on Balor's Needle he's still The King and not Jon. It's something that I'm still impressed that Pierce pulls off as well as she does.
My big issues with this book are, again, the length, and one very obvious instance of foreshadowing. the length. We spend a bit over 200 pages on two years. Then like five pages summing up the last one. I wanted some things in that year. We get a little about her training habits and changes but that's about it. I understand that it really doesn't make any sense for ever single year of Kel's life to be exciting. She had two really interesting summer camps, they can't all be perilous. But still, five pages? Give me something!
The foreshadowing. Neal being so neurotic that he and Kel are going to be late for the little examinations is okay but not too subtle. Then with her parents Kel thinks that nothing will make her late for the big examinations. Well, Hell, now we know she's going to miss it. And of course she does. I facepalmed majorly. It was sort of tacked into the scene too. We didn't need it. The Neal thing covered the foreshadowing just fine.
I really do love these books even with their flaws.
Overall Rating: Beyond Epic.
I'm hoping my new rating system will be up tomorrow.
Next up is a book I'm really excited about: John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back.