|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2009)|
|Cover artist||Joyce Patti|
|Series||Protector of the Small|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.P61464 Fi 1999|
||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
Protector of the Small is set in the Tortallan world of Pierce's Song of the Lioness and The Immortals quartets. The protagonist is Keladry of Mindelan, a young girl who becomes the first female to train as a knight ten years after King Jonathan first declared it legal. The novel tracks the first year of Keladry's training, during which she is only accepted on a probationary basis. Keladry must struggle to prove herself worthy to palace training master Wyldon of Cavall and her fellow page trainees.
The first Protector of the Small book tells of Kel's fight to become an accepted and equally-treated first-year page. Pierce places Kel in a position that many women currently find themselves in: whilst the laws may have been changed to favour gender equality, the reality of entering into a traditionally male domain presents many hurdles. Kel is accepted into the royal page program. However, she is placed on probation for the first year. She is forced to deal with hazing from her all-male peers, including derogatory writing on her walls, the destruction of her belongings, and discrimination from the training master. This is in addition to Kel being the first female to openly try to become a knight within the century. Throughout the novel, there is the ever-lurking question of whether the training master will let her continue to train, because he, like many, does not believe that women can equal men in combat. While all this is going on, and it is almost enough to make Kel leave, a secret benefactor encourages her with gifts.
When Kel is getting ready for her first day of training, she receives an unexpected gift of a new dagger and a whetstone for sharpening of incredibly high quality, which, at that time, were unaffordable except by people who were one of the higher classes. At midwinter feast time, she also receives a powerful bruise balm from a mysterious gift-giver.
In this book Keladry of Mindelan, known as Kel, faces a tough year ahead to become a page when Lord Wyldon has put her on probation. This book is about a girl who finds a way to cope with being in probation and trying to accept herself and push herself so Lord Wyldon will approve.
Keladry hates bullies, and after realizing that Joren of Stone Mountain and his friends were bullying first year pages, defied tradition and started patrolling the halls, fighting the boys whenever she found them hurting others. Nealan, or Neal, one of the oldest page in the history of pages, becomes her best friend as well as her sponsor, and the other first-year pages gradually accept her as she defends them from the bullies.