Thursday, July 08, 2004

I've been meaning to say something about Tamora Pierce ever since briefly noting that I'd read the first Protector of the Small books, but haven't gotten around to it until now. Well, after that first book, I gobbled down the rest of the quartet in a couple of sittings. When I went to Ohio a few weekends ago, I took along the third book (which didn't last beyond the plane), leaving behind the other three. Odious happened to pick up the first one while lazing about in bed, and met me at the airport with an insistent demand for the one I'd taken (to be fair, I did get a brief hug first). They are particularly charming books, with a compelling story and characters that become as dear as friends--definitely a treasure among children's literature, and indeed literature in general. This quartet follows the life of Kel, a young girl who is the first to be allowed to train as a knight, from her lowly beginnings as a page to her fateful adventures as a lady knight. Throughout it all she displays admirable self-control and determination, working towards her goal with single-minded motivation despite prejudice and pitfalls. I found myself rooting for her far more violently than I usually do for any character. While Pierce may not possess a fantastic writing style, at least in these books it's polished enough not to intrude upon the story.

The Immortals quartet, published previous to Protector of the Small, is unfortunately not so polished in style, but I enjoyed the story nearly as much, as it gives the background of one of the most intriguing characters in Kel's story. Since her mother's magic brought on the destruction of her family, Daine has done her best to avoid magic, including the small vestiges she seems to possess. After she is taken under the wing of the sorcerer Numair, however, she begins to learn that her magic may help to save the land from a dangerous threat. I spent most of our time in Eugene last month whipping through these four books, and found them well worth it.

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