“Protector of the Small Quartet” – Does the Intended Readership Change?

Series Review : Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce

This was the first quartet we read in the continuing saga of Tortall not realizing that there were others prior to this set. The quartet was understandable even without having read the previous books.

Spoiler Alert!

First Book : First Test

Kelandry of Mindelan is the first girl to take advantage of the new law allowing girls to work towards their knighthood in the kingdom of Tortall. She is the child of diplomats and has lived most of her life on Yamani where she has learned to hide her emotions and to work hard. Kel is faced with prejudice and injustice as she is put to the first test to see if she can continue to train to be a knight. She is bullied at every turn and in response grows to hate any bullying and is prepared to defend those not capable of defending themselves.

Adult Point of View

Overall the Protector of the Small Quartet is mediocre though there are pieces that are interesting. The Yamani society is parallel to Japanese culture and gives the opportunity for young people to better understand an Eastern philosophy. Many girls will enjoy Kel because she is so brave in the face of adversity and everyone loves someone who defends the underdog. This first book is appropriate for children as young as about 10 and may interest girls to about 14.

Teen Point of View

I loved this book. The character Kel is very loveable and you just can’t wait to see how she succeeds. This book out of the series is my favorite.

Second Book : Page

Kel has passed the first test and is in her second year as a page. She continues to endure hazing and defends others from bullies. Joren, Kel’s arch-enemy, has become more civil to Kel and her friends as he has become a squire.

A palace servant has begged Kel to hire Lalasa on as a maid servant. Kel’s sympathies arise at the plight of this young woman and hires her to protect and defend this helpless commoner.

Unseen forces try to keep Kel from taking the Big Examination to be eligible to be a squire. Finally able to conquer her fear of heights, Kel is able to keep her honor and to stand up for the Examination.

Adult Point of View

A major theme in this book continues to be the need to defend those without the means to help themselves. This installment also has Kel growing into a woman and discusses the process of maturation which has the potential to make a younger audience uncomfortable and also fairly unreadable for boys.  There are also suggestions of sexual themes, but nothing is spelled out overtly.

Age appropriate for 12 – 15.

Teen Point of View

I disliked how descriptive this book was about her becoming a woman and it wasn’t quite as gripping as the first but was still enjoyable.

Third Book : Squire

Riddled with fears that no one will want to take on the Girl, Kel is shocked when Lord Raoul of the King’s Own requests for her to be his squire. Kel is disappointed that the Lady Alanna did not choose her to be her squire and the situation seems first when her best friend Neal is chosen by the cantankerous Lioness. As Kel works with the King’s Own for the next four years she learns of the support she has received from her hero Alanna and realizes she was in a better situation with Raoul.

Kel continues to collect animals and accidentally acquires a griffin that is dangerous.

Cleon and Kel develop a romance and frequently kiss. Kel’s mother has a very frank discussion about sex.

Kel prepares herself to enter the Chamber, where all potential knight must go to face their greatest fears. Some candidates have died in the Chamber.

Adult Point of View

The material seems to get more intense and has stronger themes. It appears that the metallic killing machines have a child essence within them which is disturbing.  Appropriate for girls over the age of 14.

Teen Point of View

This book is my least favorite of the series, but is still good. It is a teensy bit disturbing but is fine for anyone in their teens.

Fourth Book : Lady Knight

Kel has survived the Chamber and is the First Lady Knight other than Alanna the Lioness. She still faces prejudice from conservatives, but has strong supporters.

The Chamber has given her the assignment to stop the wizard who is creating metallic monstrosities powered by the spirits of murdered children.

Kel has been assigned the task of keeping a fort and its inhabitants safe from invaders. She is resentful that she is not in the fighting, yet sees the wisdom that she is the only one capable of taking on a job that includes helping commoners and freed prisoners because of her compassion. While away from the fort, Haven, the invaders kill the inhabitants and take the children. Inspite of orders Kel leaves to fulfill her responsibilities to both the inhabitants of Haven and to stop the evil wizard.

Adult Point of View

The level of monstrosities in this installment has increased because of the murders of innocent children. The descriptions of the fighting become more graphic and brutal. Kel maintains her humanity and is a likeable character. This book is not appropriate for children under 14, and even possibly 15. My daughter (14 years old) started to read this series before I did and she didn’t seem to be shocked by the violence.

The series is not overly remarkable or unique. From other reviews it seems that the beginning of Tortall may be more interesting. I did enjoy characters, like Neal and Owen. Kel’s character is a bit cliche as the feminist hero though she is very likeable. I also liked seeing the character development of the “Stump”.

I wonder if the author intended for the readers to grow up in the series like Kel. I generally like a series to be appropriate for the same age group from start to finish. It is hard for children to wait until they are older to continue reading a series even if it is too emotionally difficult for them to process.

One more note, the publishers choice for the new quartets covers seemed inconsistent with the series because Kel is described as stocky or broad and the images used are of a willowy girl. Also, since there were no photographs in the series it seems like the covers should not be photos, rather they should be illustrations.

3 out of 5 stars

– the Mother

Teen Point of View

This book was another favorite of the series. I enjoyed the action and the characters. I suggest this whole series to girl teenagers.

3 out of 5 stars

– the Daughter

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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2 Responses to “Protector of the Small Quartet” – Does the Intended Readership Change?

  1. Sav says:

    Relax, I have read this series and I can’t get enough of it. It can be quite vivide (excuse spelling) but it could also show it is ok to talk about those thing to parents or close friends, with the violence just ignore it

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