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Tamora Pierce

“Sir, people never wanted me to make it to squire. They won't like it any better if I become a knight. I doubt I'll ever get to command a force larger than, well, just me.'

Raoul shook his head. 'You're wrong.' As she started to protest, he raised a hand. 'Hear me out. I have some idea of what you've had to bear to get this far, and it won't get easier. But there are larger issues than your fitness for knighthood, issues that involve lives and livelihoods. Attend,' he said, so much like Yayin, one of her Mithran teachers, that Kel had to smile.

'At our level, there are four kids of warrior,' he told Kel. He raised a fist and held up one large finger. 'Heroes, like Alanna the Lioness. Warriors who find dark places and fight in them alone. This is wonderful, but we live in the real world. There aren't many places without any hope or light.'

He raised a second finger. 'We have knights- plain, everyday knights, like your brothers. They patrol their borders and protect their tenants, or they go into troubled areas at the king's command and sort them out. They fight in battles, usually against other knights. A hero will work like an everyday knight for a time- it's expected. And most knights must be clever enough to manage alone.'

Kel nodded.

'We have soldiers,' Raoul continued, raising a third finger. 'Those warriors, including knights, who can manage so long as they're told what to do. These are more common, thank Mithros, and you'll find them in charge of companies in the army, under the eye of a general. Without people who can take orders, we'd be in real trouble.

'Commanders.' He raised his little finger. 'Good ones, people with a knack for it, like, say, the queen, or Buri, or young Dom, they're as rare as heroes. Commanders have an eye not just for what they do, but for what those around them do. Commanders size up people's strengths and weaknesses. They know where someone will shine and where they will collapse. Other warriors will obey a true commander because they can tell that the commander knows what he- or she- is doing.' Raoul picked up a quill and toyed with it. 'You've shown flashes of being a commander. I've seen it. So has Qasim, your friend Neal, even Wyldon, though it would be like pulling teeth to get him to admit it. My job is to see if you will do more than flash, with the right training. The realm needs commanders. Tortall is big. We have too many still-untamed pockets, too curse many hideyholes for rogues, and plenty of hungry enemies to nibble at our borders and our seafaring trade. If you have what it takes, the Crown will use you. We're too desperate for good commanders to let one slip away, even a female one. Now, finish that'- he pointed to the slate- 'and you can stop for tonight.”


Tamora Pierce, Squire
tags: kel, raoul, squire
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Squire (Protector of the Small, #3) Squire by Tamora Pierce
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