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First Test (Protector of the Small, #1)
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First Test (Protector of the Small #1)

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  40,267 Ratings  ·  969 Reviews
Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight.
Library Binding, 224 pages
Published June 7th 1999 by Random House Books for Young Readers
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Echo Yes. It's set in the same world, but 10 years after the Song of the Lioness series is complete. About 5 years after the Immortals Quartet. While it's…moreYes. It's set in the same world, but 10 years after the Song of the Lioness series is complete. About 5 years after the Immortals Quartet. While it's not focused on Alanna, she does show up as well as some other familiar faces. I highly recommend reading the Immortals Quartet first though, as the first book references events from that series pretty heavily.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jul 06, 2012 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya
After King Jonathan took the throne, he decreed that women could train as knights as well. But more than a decade has passed since Alanna was unveiled as a female knight, and still no other female member of a noble house has come forth to be trained. No one--until Keladry. The daughter of ambassadors, Kel spent her childhood in lands where women were trained warriors, and intends to become one herself. Jonathon's hide-bound nobles aren't pleased with this change of tradition, and to placate them ...more
Aug 31, 2013 Rowan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy, feminism, fiction
When I was 13 years old, I discovered the glorious Tamora Pierce through her "Song of the Lioness" quartet, which were, at the time, the only books she had published. "The Immortals" quartet came out while I was in high school, but I never connected with Daine as a heroine in the visceral way I did with Alanna, though I can appreciate why other people enjoy her. I never even touched "The Protector of the Small" until I was an adult in grad school.

The first couple of times I read the series, I re
Jul 18, 2008 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: basically anyone.
Recommended to Allison by: fond memories.
Recently I decided to reread all of Tamora Pierce's books, because, well, it's been too long since I read them. For her Lioness Quartet, Circle of Magic books, and The Immortals series, I was refreshing my memory, but with the Protector of the Small series, it was almost like reading them for the first time. I read this series only once, when I was a preteen, and I had honestly forgotten just how much I love Kel.

At first glance, the story of Keladry of Mindalen seems like a rewrite of Tamora Pie
I started this series with the thought that it was going to be a do over of Pierce's previous, successful Alanna the Lioness Quartet, which followed a girl (named Alanna, of course) who dressed like a boy and took her twin brother's place in page training while he took her place in magic school (not dressed as a girl). The four books of that quartet follow her progress from page, to squire, to knight and king's champion--with her sex being discovered along the way. I was pleasantly surprised to ...more
Jul 18, 2011 Kogiopsis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am going to save my reminiscing about this series for the third book. Or at least I'm going to try. Some might creep in unnoticed.

First off:
Spidrens were, actually, the first Immortals I ever read about, because I went straight from the Lioness Quartet to this series. So in the first chapter or so, when Kel finds a spidren biting the heads off kittens, I was deeply disturbed. I still am. What I love about that scene is Kel's react
Oct 27, 2011 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young girls
As part of a personal project of mine, I have taken to reading some of my childhood favorites again. Some of them will stand the test of time, while others will be remembered fondly but aren't quite up to par anymore.

I can safely say that First Test has stood the test of time. It is much better than the The Song of the Lioness Quartet. The writing is much improved along with the characters and plot.

For most of the book, I was upset with Lord Wyldon but (view spoiler)
Dec 15, 2011 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book but I have always been a sucker for books about kids who go away to boarding schools and face insurmountable obstacles. Yup, It was one of those.
The only thing I had a bit of a hard time with is that the story is about a ten year old girl and it felt like she was a lot older than that.
Otherwise it was worth the three hours it took me to read it.
Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm)
This and my other reviews can be found at

First Test is about Keladry of Mindelan, the first girl who wishes to become a knight since Lady Alanna. She has been accepted for knight training, however, unlike the boys she will study and train beside, she has been given a First Test, one year to prove to the conservative training master that she is able to withstand the rigors of page training.

The storyline of this book progresses in a very good yet predictable
Aug 17, 2016 Connor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, re-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was pretty fantastic. It concerns Keladry, the first girl to try for her knighthood since Alanna became a knight and a proclamation was issued that any girl may become a page. Despite the proclamation, many are still resistant to the idea of women being knights, and Kel does not have an easy time of things.

It's fascinating to compare Kel's and Alanna's experiences and how different they are. Kel's family is supportive of her decision to try for her knighthood, and Kel's mother is a for
Arielle Walker
One of my favourite books from my childhood, along with the Lioness quartet. Will review properly later when I don't have a detailed essay (on the use of moving image/film as an art form to explore social media and psychosis) to conclude.

Came across my 2003 school reading log, and I think my ten-year-old self actually describes this book best. In my own ten-year-old words: "Excellent, I like the idea that girls are at least as good as boys, if not better!"
Dichotomy Girl
Edit: Raised this up to 5 Stars, because after discussing it with Rachel E. Carter, I've decided that yes, Kel is the awesomest. :)

I had forgotten how good this series is. It's hard to decide which is my favorite, this one or Alanna.

2nd Read: 7/20/2015
Original Read: 11/11/2012
Alanna clenched her fists. What was going on? Was Jonathan inclined to give way to the man who'd saved his children?
And with that, possibly the stupidest line Pierce has ever written, Kel's story begins. I'm big on details lately, and the introduction is shaky on them. Here are more places the writing is less than precise:
The training master absently rubbed the arm in its linen sling. At last he bowed in his chair. "May we compromise, sire?"
Maybe that first line is here to show Wyldon's hesitati
This is more like a review of the series as a whole, although I have tried to avoid spoilers.

I love The Protector of the Small quartet. I think it’s the best among Pierce’s work. It has a depth of feeling and a complexity that her early Tortall books lack, without as much of the grim-and-gritty feel that her most recent books possess (Mastiff, anyone?). That’s not to say I don’t like her other books – I do. I reread the Alanna and Immortals books at least once every year, and the Beka Cooper bo
Bridget Mckinney
Apr 29, 2013 Bridget Mckinney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

Before starting to read the Protector of the Small quartet, I read that Kel was just another Alanna and that the books are basically Song of the Lioness all over again. I was actually okay with that going into this series, since I love Alanna and think that there are far worse things Kel could have been than just like her. I'm happy to report, however, that although there are similarities between Alanna and Kel, their experiences are extremely different and Kel's story expands upon and continues

Michael Martin
It's highly derivative of a lot of things that preceded it, but dumbed down to a juvenile level. It didn't bore me (it was a book club selection), but neither will it leave much of a dent in my memory. Think of it as Game of Thrones meets My Little Pony.
Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌

Being immersed in this world once again brings back all of these dear and familiar feelings-- love, affection, amusement and the all too familiar indignation from the brilliantly frustrating portrayal of sexism that seems to be a prevalent theme in her of her books.

The premise is much like that of the series Song of the Lioness, but that's just about the biggest similarity. There are a lot of distinguishing factors, especially with Keladry's character. It was wonderful and heart warming
Jun 05, 2013 Dorothea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(re-read on May 26, 2013, the occasion of this review)

May I say first that whoever thought this cover (trendily cropped photograph of a conventionally beautiful young woman with her lips parted and wearing some sort of floating veil) was an improvement over this cover (painting of a ten-year-old child with an androgynous haircut, looking out optimistically at the world through her black eye, holding a kitten and surrounded by little birds) should be smacked with their own portfolio?

Thank you.

Lucy Ralston
Jul 24, 2013 Lucy Ralston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed my childhood. I had read stories about lady knights before--about women dressing as men, fighting the odds, and changing the world. But this story is different. Kel doesn't dress in drag, she doesn't hide herself, she doesn't try to change the world. She just wants to be a knight, and will do whatever it takes to achieve her goal. She is my number one female character in a YA novel, and that has not changed in a long long time.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone
Kayla Edwards
Oh these books, every time I read them it's like visiting a best friend. I adore Kel today as much as I did when these books were first published; I will forever be grateful to Tamora Pierce for creating this fantastic heroine because "bless [her], [she is] real." Kel doesn't have the Gift or any wild magic to help her. She gets everything only through grimy, hard work and persistence just like the rest of us and I admire her so much for it. I reread these books ALL THE TIME because I need that. ...more
I recommend this book to two (not mutually exclusive) groups of people: kids who love Harry Potter and are looking for something to read next, and girls looking for a heroine who is not just a badass, but an Interesting Person to boot.

Review of entire series:
I read this series so many times in my teenage years, I nearly wore out the library copy. I was never over-impressed with Pierce's writing, but Keladry's quiet strength got under my skin and fascinated me. So many literary heroines are more
Feb 05, 2014 Courtney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend to go on a Tamora Pierce binge: once I've put my hands on one of her novels I have to keep reading them. I'm not seeing this as a problem, though. More of just a simple, observable fact.

Because, First Test? I can tell I am going to love Kel and this series as a whole. This could be Pierce's best series yet.


No girl had taken up the king's decree that girls had the same right to train to become a knight as boys. The decree was passed after Alana, The Lioness, became Tortal
Mar 03, 2014 Ariana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I read this book, I was in elementary school. Once I had finished, I begged my mother to buy me the next book because I had absolutely loved it. I was afraid that I wouldn't enjoy it as much again because I was no longer in the target audience, as with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but I was glad to see that it was still an enjoyable read.

Reading it now, after so many years, I found that I understood a lot more than I did back then. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to enjoy a book t
Rachel Carter
May 27, 2016 Rachel Carter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have-paperback
No review I could ever write would do this book (or series) justice. *reread w/Monica 1/24/15


This series to me is the pinnacle of Tamora Pierce's career. She had many wonderful books but the emotional and physical turmoil her protagonist Kel goes through to earn her knighthood is nothing that I have ever experienced in another YA book. Kel perseveres against every trial imaginable, and while at times she can seem a bit too mature (she's only 10 in this one!), she is unique and refreshing in a wo
Sarah S
This was a very, very satisfying read.
Tessa Binetti
Jul 07, 2015 Tessa Binetti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
I am enchanted with this book! It's outgoing, different to usual characters often remind me of my much loved series by John Flanagan, "Rangers Apprentice"! I can't wait to find the second one and continue!!
May 01, 2016 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have honestly read this series through around 10 times - that's how much I LOVE it. Out of all the characters Tamora Pierce has ever written, and that I've read, this is my favourite.

Kel's journey from her childhood to her knighthood is so amazing to me. Part of this is the setting of a medieval fantasy land and how in that world girls were not supposed to become knights, but also because in real life girls were not supposed to be knights.

I love Kel's journey quite a bit more than Alanna's b
Emily (BellaGrace)
I liked this book - listened to it as an audio book. It was a quick, fast read. I was mostly interested, but the story was entirely predictable. My biggest problem was that Kel is a 10 year old girl, but at no time did she actually act like it. She was way too mature for her age - both in how she acted, her physical abilities and even how she spoke. It was in no way believable that she was a child. My other gripe is: (view spoiler) ...more
Jun 05, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yearly re-read: Daine will always be my favorite, but I do really love Kel. She works so hard, and it's so inspirational.
Jackie B. Forman
Ten years after Alanna becomes King's Champion, a female of Tortall finally wants to become a page-- and eventually a knight of the realm. What sounds at first as a repeat of the Song of the Lioness quartet is quickly revealed to be much more. While our protagonist, Kelandry of Mindalen, is following the same path as Alanna, the road the walks is completely different. Tamora Pierce takes what could have been a copycat novel and turns a parallel story into something refreshing and new.

From the st
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Hey, folks! I just discovered that apparently I have given some very popular books single-star ratings--except I haven't. How do I know I haven't? Because I haven't read those books at all. So before you go getting all hacked off at me for trashing your favorites, know that I've written GoodReads to find out what's going on.

I return to my regularly scheduled profile:
Though I would love to join gro
More about Tamora Pierce...

Other Books in the Series

Protector of the Small (4 books)
  • Page (Protector of the Small, #2)
  • Squire (Protector of the Small, #3)
  • Lady Knight (Protector of the Small, #4)

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“I'd like to find whoever taught the Stump that extra work builds character and push him down the stairs," Neal told Kel at lunch.” 232 likes
“You know, ogres only sound stupid. Most are pretty smart."

"And it's a shallow person who judges anyone by the way they sound. I'm so shallow I'm surprised I don't reflect myself.”
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