Lady Knight, the concluding book in Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet, is out, and I picked it up earlier this week.
When we left Keladry in Squire, she’d attained her knight’s shield and acquired a mission in the process, from whatever disembodied force tests squires for knighthood: find the mage that was killing children to fuel war machines. This is, of course, the ultimate quest for someone whose motivation in becoming a knight was to look out for those less able to defend themselves—so Kel is understandably frustrated when she is assigned to command a refugee camp, not to fight on the front lines where she might encounter the mage. However, being Kel, she recognizes that she has a responsibilty to the refugees as well, and reluctantly takes command. I particularly like this section, which is perhaps just my fondness for practicality/learning-how stories coming through. Anyway, it will surprise no-one that Kel’s path eventually crosses the mage’s. The circumstances leading up to this are fairly dark, perhaps the darkest in Pierce’s writings so far (though considering some of the things that get published as “Young Adult,” still within the genre).
Overall, this is a fitting and enjoyable end to the series. I have a couple of quibbles—there are a few minor continuity errors that are annoying, and I didn’t like the way one plot thread from previous books was handled (it made sense, but it felt like it was raised and disposed of very perfunctorily). However, I’ve spent far too long upgrading the comments system tonight (which was inexplicably refusing to work earlier), so I will leave it at that. (Look Ma, a preview function and automatic link rendering!)
[ And if some PHP expert can come up with a way for the “e-mail” and “homepage” links to not appear when someone doesn’t enter anything in those fields—I’d love to hear from you. I tried to guess at a hack, but failed miserably. ]