Headcanon: After the events in Lady Knight, Kel continues to work alongside the Own for many of her assignments. Raoul brings her in often and consults her for opinions and strategies. When Raoul announces his retirement, Kel is the only one who doesn’t realize that she has clearly been groomed for the job of Knight Commander (the few daydreams of following in Raoul’s footsteps having been quickly squashed down knowing how much the conservatives would disapprove). Thus she is shocked when she is appointed commander. She accepts gracefully, however, and one of her first orders of business is allowing women to join the Own.
There is surprisingly little muttering that goes on in conservative circles, not unrelated to the fact that Lord Wyldon is heard actively endorsing the choice.
I adore the relationships between training masters and their pages who go on to become squires, knights - heroes even ugh. I’ve just finished rereading the Protector of the Small Quartet and the growing mutual respect between Kel and Wyldon makes me all weepy. ;_;
“Mindelan.” Once that voice had driven through solid terror to make her pay heed. She turned toward it now, and saw a broad hand held out to her. She took it. “Very well done. Very well indeed. You listened to my advice about your shield—but then, I expected no less. I only wish—”
Kel grinned foolishly, her ears still ringing. They made a nice counterpoint to Lord Wyldon’s voice, she thought.
“I know, my lord,” she managed to say. “You wish I were a boy. But being a girl is more fun. More fun-er? Is that right?”
“Yessir,” she said, automatically obeying the command. Somehow she climbed out of the tilting saddle and slithered to the ground. The two monitors caught her.
“Mithros watch over you, Keladry,” Wyldon said.
— Squire, chapter 15
“You see?” Wyldon asked, sardonic. “You aren’t sure that I didn’t help to create Vinson and Joren either. I told lads to be aggressive, to concentrate on the goal. Mindelan, it may be that the best thing said of my tenure is that you were my student. Should that be the case, I am the wrong man for the post. I did all I could to get rid of you. Your probation was wrong. You know that, I know it. I was harder on you than any lad. Thank Mithros I remembered my honor and let you stay when you met the conditions—but it was a near thing. Next time I might not heed the voice of honor.”
Kel watched him pack for a while, unable to think of a reply. He had confirmed what she had wondered about for years. Still, she didn’t think he should go. “Sir, I learned so much from you,” she said at last. “You’re the kind of knight I want to be.”
He regarded her with the strangest expression in his eyes. “I am not,” he said. But that you believe it is the greatest compliment I will ever receive.“
— Squire, chapter 14
Once she knew her friends were out of earshot, she straightened and met Lord Wyldon’s eyes. "You have every right to yell at me, my lord,” she said. “Go ahead. I deserve worse.”
Wyldon took a step closer to her, cupped her head in both hands, and kissed her gently on the forehead. “You are a true knight, Keladry of Mindelan,” he told her. “I am honored to know you.”
What if Kel was executed for treason in Lady Knight? What if it caused a rebellion? Because you can't tell me that what the world will hear in canon isn't that Wyldon ordered her to follow the refugees. Anything else would create resentment. For all Wyldon's pretty talk, surely he noticed that. And if they tried to hush it up? I don't see Raoul and Alanna letting that happen. And if you knew your king executed nobles for rescuing commoners from a fate worse than death, wouldn't you rebel?
No, no, no, no I can’t do it. Kel is my lady, my light, my love–and I can’t imagine a world where the people on that war front would ever have allowed her death. So let’s tell this story–she was found guilty of treason. She was sentenced to death, kneeling on that Tortallan river mud, enemy territory a stone’s throw behind her, hundreds of abandoned souls saved by her stubborn hands.
Dutiful misery was stark in the grip Wyldon used to pull her to her feet and tie her hands behind her. (He would not leave that job to a lesser man.) Rage poured off Raoul, simmering, trapped. The King’s Own protested–when they shut themselves up it was not at their commander’s order but at Kel’s quelling shake of her head.
Wyldon could protect Owen, who was his squire and his responsibility. The King’s Own had technically, roughly, been following orders. The rescued civilians were ushered toward safety with faintly awed hands. Kel, Merric, and Neal were ushered forward, too, by awed hands, but it was with their own hands bound behind them and it was not toward safety.
But the awe was there– these knights had done the impossible. They had gone into enemy territory, after monsters made of death and metal, and saved their people. They had done the impossible– they had put protecting homeless peasants above obeying their lord. Wyldon tied each of their hands behind their backs and they did not apologize. Neal raised his chin like he was challenging Wyldon to demand it of him.
But the Giantkiller fortress was flooded with children and civilians who had been written off as collateral damage. After days of hard travel, the children were no longer unnaturally clean and coiffed; they would always be scared. They would always be brave. They would not allow Kel to be the price paid for their lives.
A pretty young woman who had once stabbed a Scanran slaver to death found out where they were keeping Kel and her knights. Children threw tantrums to distract while the ex-convicts picked the locks on their doors. Tobe got the horses and kept them quiet. When they got to the main gates again, Neal ready to put them all to sleep, the guards turned around the same way they had days before and let them through.
Up in the commander’s quarters, Wyldon slept restlessly. He had told Keladry of Mindelan once that he believed the best thing that could be said of his tenure as training master was that she had been in his care. He still believed that to be true, but he had his orders. When they woke him, he would be stranded somewhere between rage and relief.
Only a handful of Haven civilians came out into the woods with Kel that night. Neal tsked about Giantkiller’s healers and worked on them all while Merric went though their stolen saddlepacks and took inventory. Fanche pulled bread, cheese, and knives out of her bulging skirts and passed them around.
Kel sat, staring at the space they would have put a fire if they had thought it was safe to light one. Neal bullied some bread into her and Merric asked, “What do we do now, Kel?”
She considered saying, “Why are you asking me?” but Kel had always been very bad at lying to herself. She looked up at the trees. Fir. Spruce. “There’s a war on,” Kel said. “No matter what they say back there, we still have a sworn duty. Or at least I do.” Her school friends were looking up at her like she held their allegiances in her callused palm. The Haven people were careful shadows, tired, certain. Tobe looked at her like he was never letting her out of his sight again. “I’m going to keep fighting.”
They took down their first Scanran raiding party the next day, finding them almost on accident. The first Haven dogs and cats skipped and sauntered into their makeshift camp the next night, curling up by the fire and dropping rabbits for the humans to clean for them.
Haven civilians and convicts began wandering in, grinning tightly, bringing stories of Giantkiller all up in arms. After the first week, once she’d figured out they might be there for good, Kel had started looking for clerks.
When Dom and most of his squad of the King’s Own walked into their camp without a single piece of official Crown livery on, Kel seized Dom by one rough, plain sleeve and dragged him to the side.
“You can’t be here,” she hissed. “Neal and Merric are as damned as I am. The refugees have nowhere safer to go, and I’m not going to keep them from a fight if they want it. But you– Raoul needs you, Dom.”
“Raoul needs us to win this war,” said Dom. “And neither of us could think of any better hands for my squad to be in than yours. If we’re going to win this, we can’t keep our best commanders in the dark.” He grinned. “Even if they’re grumpy giantesses of fugitives.”
Just in case you were forgetting what a badass Kel is we get this absolute GEM in Squire:
“The standard-bearer gripped her arm. ‘Watch your step, squire,’ he informed her. 'Just because Wyldon didn’t have the brass to get rid of you doesn’t mean we wont.’
Kel flexed her bicep. He stared at her as muscle swelled under his fingers, forcing them open. With a quick jerk Kel freed herself. 'Excuse me,’ she repeated, and walked off with her charges, keeping Peachblossom away from the standard-bearer.”
Earlier today I saw a post about how Tammy’s works were actually just a ciswhitefeminist’s fantasy, and how that blogger was disappointed because they used to love her work. For a second I would’ve agreed, but then I sat back and thought about it. (I will point out where this person might be getting this idea later) Hopefully, this will clear the air for any fans who might be doubting their love for Tammy.
She DOES have POC main characters. It sounded like the writer of the former post had only read Tortallan books. Both Daja and Briar are main characters with point of view in her Emelan series. Sandry is too and she’s mixed. Tris can be interpreted as mixed (there really is no reason against it). At least two of the teachers, Lark and Frostpine, are poc as well. Nico is speculated. Her second half of that series also features Evvy’s point of view in several books. The books are filled with people of different cultures.
In Tortall their are several poc characters but they are a bit harder to spot, especially because many people assume characters are white unless specified. FIRST OFF Verrildaine Sarrasi or DAINE is mixed in cannon (could be more obvious but its true). Her hair is an untameable mass of curls are frequently mentioned, and while she does have blue eyes and come from a place called snowsdale or something, her father is a god so who can be sure. The only thing I remember about her skin might have been freckles which people of darker skin can have. There is some cover art that shows her as pale, but that is usually the book publishers decision not the author.
Queen Thayat is half K'mir, which Tammy describes as ”Actually, they’re based partly on the Mongols in that they’re riders, partly on the Montagnard tribes of the central highlands of Vietnam, and a bit on the Maya at least in their facial bones. Their language is cobbled from the Montagnard. You may have some trouble tracking pictures of them down, but they come from similar aboriginal stock to the Laotian Hmong and Meo tribes and the Thai hill tribes. And their armor is a bit like the armor of the samurai, only it’s lacquer over bamboo in layers and cured to an iron-like consistency.” which makes all of her children ¼ K'mir (horselords these are easier to find than I thought they would be). The fact isn’t brought up much after Lioness Rampant but it is mentioned by Onoa (a K'mir) in Daine’s series. Buri is also obviously K'mir.
Daine’s series has great (if mostly male) poc.First off, BAMF-most-powerful-sorcerer-main-love-interest-Numair who is based off of Jeff Goldblum. Sarge, and countless other residents of the castle are. Yes, Ozorne was the villain, but Kaddar was cool! As were the Doi tribesmen. Daine’s series was also hugely about the return of immortals which has many parallels to immigrants/refugees
Keladry’s entire story displays huge respect for the Yamani (Japan) and believes that 90% of her awesomeness came from learning from them (10% from Wyldon). Third and Fourth book include several females Yamanis including the fullblooded Yamani princess Shinkokami who is to marry the crown prince (¼ K'mir) Also the Bazhir were constant side characters.
Where people might get confused: Now Alanna does come in a little western-white-feminist in Woman Who Rides Like A Man, but she learns. She learns so much about the Bazhir and recognizes that their values may be different but they are just as important. Also, I imagine that Aly might be a bit of the white-feminist-hero to many, but the poc people around her aren’t two dimensional, and they definitely aren’t dumb. On several occasions she is reminded of that. Not to mention every other white character in the books are complete asshats. And in case its not clear, all of these books have a huge cast of POC characters. WWRLaM: Ishak, Kara, Kourrem, Ali Mukhtab, Halef Seif, etc. Tricksters: Dove, Sarrai, Junai, Chenaol, Fesgao, Lokeij, Ochobu, Ulasim, Ysul, Zaimid, Etc.
Furthermore, I highly recommend her Tortall and Other Lands short story collection. A crossdressing female and a Islamic (equivalent) girl who wears a burqa cross paths and we readers get both points of view.
She writes queer characters. Remember the black girl Daja from Emelan? She’s gay. Rosethorn? Openly bisexual and not monogamous. Lark? Longterm relationship with Rosethorn and accepts her fully. Pretty certain Frostpine is asexual. There is a trans woman in Bloodhound (although she couldve been written better). Keladry is completely unphased by homosexuality and Lalasa is a lesbian. There is some talk that Keladry is ace. Now I’m all up for more aces, but she definitely had quite a few men who caught her eye, and there was that whole thing with Cleon. However, I still believe that demisexual is a possibility this has nothing to do with me being demi and idolizing her.
Sure, we can always have more poc and queers in books, but I think Tammy does a pretty bang up job humanizing these people and writing realistic backgrounds. Not to mention how fantastic she writes females in general, and points out so many other issues (classism, education, etc). So if your feeling concerned, reread Tortall, reread Emelan, and reread Tortall and Other Lands. Sorry its long, and I’m probably forgetting quite a few people, so message me if you see any or just want to talk about Tamora Pierce.
(Edit: thank you everyone who left comments about people I forgot/corrections)
In Corus, in the Palace gardens, there is a row of statues. Defenders of the Realm. The most influential Knights, the Heroes, the greatest Kings. The statues are smaller than life sized, and the names on some have been erased by time. There is one of a young woman with a braid, a dog at her side, a cat against her leg, a baton in her hand. Her eyes were once blue glass, faded by two hundred years in the sunlight.
There are a few other women in the row, some newer than others.
Lady Knight Keladry of Mindalen is surprised when her new squire tells her that one such statue is of her. Raoul tells her that it’s technically because of her defeat of Blayce the Gallan. Kel privately wonders if it might have something to do with her Knight Master’s old joke, and her result of her recent jousting victory over Lord Wyldon. She went to see it once, to look at the stone version of herself, so much more assured of victory. I am stone, Kel tells herself now, and smiles privately.
Sir Alanna also has a statue, beside one of the last of the great female Knights, whose holdings have since been deeded to the public and whose name is not mentioned in history. Alanna was furious when Jon told her, and refused to see the statue that depicted her in her men’s garb, her chest bound flat, purple glass embedded in to stone for her Gift–she did not want the fame. people flocked to the statue, since the Lady had fled south. Then, Later, when she returned to Corus, she could not bring herself even to enter the gardens, afraid she might wander down the path, might see the statue again–one glimpse was enough. It was lifelike, but not lifelike to her. It was too stone and too much like Thom.
Kel volunteers for a trembling twelve year old who looks far younger. The look on the girl’s face when she sees Kel keeps her going through everything to come
Her family all comes to say goodbye, asking her why she did it. The odds were always in their favor, it didn’t have to be any of them, and she thinks maybe that’s the point. Her mother hugs her and Kel thinks she understands
Wyldon is their only mentor and has produced an impressive amount of Victor’s, but they’ve all been male. He immediately dismisses Kel as hopeless, deciding to focus his attention on the male tribute, Joren. She protests, but he tells her that he’s just doing what has the best chance of producing a winner. Joren sneers and tells her he’s looking forward to killing her in the arena
While Joren becomes the leader of the careers, Kel befriends young Tobe and timid, beaten down Lalasa. Neal scoffs at the collection of strays she’s gathered, but sits with them at lunch, worrying Kel by constantly saying things about the Capitol she would hardly dare think.
In the interviews handsome Joren secures sponsors while Kel’s calm, smooth face is taken for blank and dull. She gets a good training score, but Joren gets higher and Wyldon’s looks say I told you so
When the games start Kel focuses on getting people, not items, making sure Tobe, Lalasa, and another younger competitor, Loesia, get away from the Cornucopia alive. Thankfully, Neal, Merric, and Owen join them, each bringing supplies and weapons
Alanna, one of Neal’s mentors, sees that Wyldon isn’t doing anything to help them so sends as much food, medicine, and weapons as she can afford. Their group is big enough to deter attackers, and Kel tries to teach the others to fight
Soon the killing machines show up, each with the voice of one of the dead tributes. Every time someone dies a few days later another machine arrives. They kill Loesia and Owen before Kel figures out they can stop them by puncturing a hole in the machine’s head. Alanna sends armor piercing darts for their crossbow
Kel tries to warn the other tributes, but Joren and his pack just attack them, too stubborn to listen. Soon they’re all taken out by the machines.
It’s a brutal game, with Kel’s group quickly becoming the only survivors. More dead tributes mean more killing machines and Neal and Merric die when the group is attacked by three of them at once
Wyldon sends more armor piercing bolts, which Kel thinks might be an apology
No matter how hard Kel tries to keep Tobe out of danger he throws himself in it to help her and he’s the next to die, leaving Kel and Lalasa as the final two
Lalasa says Kel should just kill her and get it over with, but Kel came to the games to save an innocent life, she’s not going to leave by taking one. That only leaves one option, and Kel dies taking out the last of the machines
Lalasa, pretty and the underdog, is a popular Victor, but many were shocked by Kel’s death and thought the machines might have been too brutal. There was also a lot of talk about how nice it was to see the tributes banding together to fight a common enemy. The Gamemaker, Blayce, disappears soon after
Wyldon never again ignores his female tributes
Lalasa becomes a stylist, always requesting to work for the poorest districts. She encourages those who everyone else writes off as good as dead and makes sure that Kel’s legacy as protector of the small lives on
30 days of Tamora Pierce, day 12: favorite passage
“Sir, you’re the kind of Knight I want to be.” He regarded her for a moment with the strangest expression in his eyes. “I am not,” he said. “But the fact that you believe it is the greatest compliment I will ever receive.”
That acknowledgement for Kel from someone who did not want to even give her a chance at the beginning is a huge step. For both of them. It shows how much Wyldon has grown in the six years since Kel came on as a page, and how his views have changed. He may not accept all women as warriors, but he has come such a long way since First Test. It’s an important reminder that everyone can learn from their students. Sometimes more than they learn from you, even though they might never know it.
Why Roald is Going to be a Better King Than Jonathan
1. Roald is way more politically savvy than Jonathan. Granted, he has the benefit of Jonathan and Thayet passing along their wisdom, and the lessons they learned while they were growing up and learning how to rule a country. But comparing Roald’s behavior as a page and squire to Jonathan’s behavior during the same period in his life, Roald demonstrates a profound understanding of his position as crown prince and that his actions will be attributed to the position rather than him as a person. This is why he never joined in Kel’s patrols to stop the practice of bullying and hazing under Wyldon’s tenure as training master. It’s why he took care to divide his time among all of the pages, not spending all of his time with just one group of people.
Compare that with Jonathan, who very much used his position as crown prince to direct his fellow pages’ behavior. He and his close friends administered a beating to Ralon after he had broken “Alan’s” arm. Roald never would have done such a thing. Neither would Roald have disobeyed the direct orders of his commanding officer to conduct a risky rescue mission behind enemy lines as Jonathan did, banking on his identity as crown prince to keep him and his rescue party from punishment - which would have been death for any other person who had attempted it. By contrast, Roald did his duty as a healer, far behind the front lines, during the Scanran War.
2. Roald is more progressive than Jonathan. Is Jonathan a progressive king? Yes, of course he is. But he’s not perfect, and in some ways he has some serious blind spots. Really what brought this entire post on was seeing parts of the Tortall fandom hating a little on Kel for acknowledging that she could never like Jonathan. She is right not to like him. He treated her differently for political reasons. He allowed others to treat her differently for political and bigoted reasons. Were his hands tied by political considerations? Yeah, probably. That doesn’t make Kel’s year as a probationary page right, and we have no reason to believe he would have intervened if Wyldon had been less honorable, and denied Kel her right to stay and train after that first year. Lucky Jonathan. He got to placate the conservatives and received one of the realm’s finest knights in return. That was a win-win situation for him, that trampled all over Kel and made her experience more difficult than it should have been.
Roald was good friends with Kel during their time as pages. He saw what she went through and how she dealt with it. He saw what she went through specifically because she was training openly as a girl. Jonathan heard second-hand what Alanna’s experience was like, but during his time as a page he never saw “Alan” as anything but a smaller-than-average boy. And even Alanna’s experience was different than Kel’s, training as a boy and only revealing her true self after winning her shield. Jonathan also hurt Alanna by not allowing her any contact with Kel during her page and squire years. Pissing off the Lioness to the extent that she avoids Corus for years shows the depth of her anger there - but again, placating conservatives was more important than a lifetime of faithful service and friendship.
Jonathan also talked Roald’s sister Kalasin out of being the first openly-female page, which so enraged Thayet that there was significant tension between them for an entire year. Now, there would have been political issues with Kalasin training for knighthood, but Jonathan’s particular grievance was that it would ruin her marriageability and she needed to marry in order to strengthen Tortall’s alliances. This is a different kind of duty than knighthood, and one that Kalasin took on - but again, it was due to Jonathan placating conservatives for political reasons.
3. Roald is in a better position to be both a good person and a good ruler. When Kel was trying to process her feelings about Jonathan, she recalled something her father said during their time in the Yamani Isles. The Yamani Emperor ordered a mass execution of not only a group of criminals, but their families as well. "Rulers are seldom nice people, Kel. Even good ones make choices that will hurt somebody.“ Jonathan, Thayet and all of the others of their generation (Alanna, Raoul, Buri, Gary, etc.) have done difficult, slow work getting Tortall into a position to make great progress. This is why Jonathan has done some of the things he has, although arguments can still be made as to whether those decisions were the best ones he could have made. Roald and Shinko are now able to take that work and build on it, when Roald eventually takes the throne. He has done his own work, demonstrating his political awareness and public temperament that will enable him to work with nobles and commoners alike.
Kel is not wrong to feel the way she does about Jonathan. She doesn’t have the benefit of having read Alanna and Daine’s stories, like we have. But Jonathan has wronged her - that’s beyond dispute. And he is lucky to have her, because she’ll do her duty by him in spite of it all.
Reason #3 that I wish I had read Tamora Pierce as a child
Recognition that sexism, or any kind of oppression or prejudice, doesn’t disappear when the official rules change.
In the Protector of the Small series, we learn that even though it’s been ten years since it was declared girls could be pages if they desired, Kel is the first to actually do it.
This isn’t because no girls want to be pages; it’s because the girls who do feel pressure from their families and peers. They fear they will not be welcome.
And they’re right; from the start, Kel is subjected to hostile treatment and special rules, like her b.s. one-year probation because Wyldon is THE WORST. Many of the other pages make it their stated mission to harass her into giving up, which by the way guys, it would have saved you some time if you had just started yelling about how terrified you were of women instead of pulling elaborate pranks and kidnapping maids, because that’s the only thing you proved. Kel has to work twice as hard just to be able to stay, and she knows it isn’t fair.
But she does it anyway.
It’s a story that tells us to look beyond the rules in writing and recognize all the different types of pressure that cause society to resist change, to hinder progress for the better.
It’s an acknowledgment of what our heroes have and have not achieved. Alanna proved that a woman could earn her shield, but she couldn’t change the overall culture. Kel acknowledges that she is operating in an unjust system, and proves the ‘traditionalists’ wrong simply by trusting her own strength and her own judgment. That’s a difficult thing to do when surrounded by doubt.
Kel admires Alanna and the progress she made, but Kel doesn’t sit at home, brandishing sticks at imaginary foes, pretending to be the Lioness. She’s inspired by the king’s champion to achieve her own dreams, to follow her own destiny.
She knows there’s plenty of work to be done, and her contribution in turn inspires even more young girls to become pages.
In summary: Alice Paul didn’t hang around like, “Welp, I guess Susan B. Anthony did everything that could be done,” and now I’m registered to vote. Also I love Kel, and these are getting longer and I’m not sorry.
At last she was down. Peachblossom and Jump both nuzzled her; the sparrows swirled around her, but did not land. They know what’s coming, Kel thought weakly. She waved her dog and horse off, then threw up.
When she stood, wiping her mouth on her sleeve, she turned to face a dark dun horse’s inquiring eye. “Well, Page Keladry,” the dun’s rider, Lord Wyldon, said dryly, “now you realize combat isn’t woman’s work. I hope you’ve thought better of this experiment of yours, now that you’ve seen blood.”
“Sir, that isn’t fair,” protested Owen.
Kel closed her eyes, thinking, not for the first time, Why don’t I have friends who know when to be silent?
“What is not fair, Owen of Jesslaw?” demanded Lord Wyldon.
Kel tried to signal Owen to hush, but the plump boy’s eyes were fixed on the training master. “Sir, you talk like Kel couldn’t handle the fighting. She’s the one who saved our bacon. Sir,” he added, in case he wasn’t sufficiently polite. “She’s just sick from the climbing. The fight didn’t bother her, even when she killed that man.” He pointed to the raider who lay nearby, Kel’s spear in his belly.
I wish he hadn’t reminded me, Kel thought. She unhooked her canteen from her belt with trembling fingers, unstoppered it, and poured water over her head. She also took a gulp and swilled it around to clean her mouth, then spat it out.
Faleron spoke up. “We might be dead but for Kel, my lord. I froze when they came at us. Kel’s the one with the cool head. She found that cave when we all thought we were trapped.”
The other members of their hunting party chorused agreement.