In the seventh chapter of Page, the group’s summer camp turns towards possible disaster when the pages come upon a bandit camp. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Page.
Chapter Seven: Hill Country
I have a fondness for the idea of summer camp. I mentioned over on Mark Watches whilst writing about Friday Night Lights that every summer before school began, my cross country team would take an 8-day trip down to San Diego for camp. We’d stay at Campland on the Bay, get up at 6:00am, and run anywhere from 10 to 32 miles. At once. Yes, I once ran 32 miles, and that was after I sustained a sprained ankle at mile 8. WHOOPS. After our morning workout, we’d get the rest of the day off to do whatever we wanted in San Diego, with some parameters for safety reasons. As someone who had overprotective parents who literally never let me leave the house for anything other than school or school functions, I looked forward to this week more than any other in the year. It was my chance for freedom. Truthfully, I’d only been camping a few times in my childhood, most of it when I was living in Idaho.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to camp much as an adult because it’s expensive as fuck if you don’t have any supplies, and I don’t own a car. I’ve been to Yosemite twice, and I once had a camping/hiking trip at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon almost ruined by the Great Ginny Slut Shame War of 2010. (I kind of adore the fact that I can type that sentence without a shred of irony.) Still, I’ll always associate the idea of personal freedom with camping because I didn’t get to explore the world around me growing up. So that’s why I was so excited going into this chapter. I have a lot of faith in Kel’s abilities, and it’s so fascinating to read this through her eyes. Of course, that means I am extremely invested in what Lord Wyldon will think of Kel after all of this. I mean, must I remind y’all that he’s more kind to a stray dog than he is towards Kel? And yet, he cannot deny that his misogynist view of women warriors was utterly destroyed over the course of one chapter.
(Which makes me wonder: Does Eda Bell ever walk up to Lord Wyldon and justâ€¦ I don’t know! Stand there? Because she clearly disproves what he believes. Honestly, I’d be so pleased if the next time a bunch of this sexist garbage comes spewing out of his mouth, Eda just walks over and stands in front of Lord Wyldon, totally silent, and she just follows him around quietly until he finally breaks. This is what happens in my brain.)
When the pages face the group of bandits, it’s Kel who saves them. At one point, Tamora Pierce writes:
Being quiet as they headed into the valley saved their lives.
And I understand what this means, and would like to counter it with the truth of Kel’s actions. She is what saved them. As Faleron panics, Kel immediately steps in to protect the pages. It’s incredible, y’all, because it just makes sense for her character. With her Yamani background, Kel is able to compartmentalize her own emotions in a way to keep them in control. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have feelings, nor that they’re bad things to experience. Her emotional reaction to the realization that it’s her 12th birthday (!!!!!!!! HELP ME !!!!!!!!!) is evidence that she just choose to bury them when necessary. As someone who professionally represses their emotions, I CAN RELATE.
Anyway, I don’t think it’s productive to recount every single bit of action here, as I believe my videos capture that quite well. Instead, I want to discuss what a huge moment this is for Kel. I’m glad that Tamora Pierce has already addressed this, but it’s a huge deal that Kel has killed someone. I honestly did not expect this to happen so early, and thankfully, Pierce makes sure that the text acknowledges how upsetting the idea is. At the same time, it’s a way to address the reality of this world. There are going to be bandits in Tortall. They are going to attack Kel and her friends once they become knights. Violence is inherently a part of becoming a knight, you know?
And then you’ve got the fact that Kel has to face her fear of heights ON TOP OF ALL OF THIS. Oh my god, it’s too much. IT’S TOO MUCH. But Kel handles it brilliantly. She doles out orders. She finds the narrow trail up to the cave. She leads them all to safely by instructing the pages to use their strengths to become part of a whole. Hell, that detail might be my favorite part of this. Kel’s able to assemble a powerful group in just a few seconds. That’s amazing!
I’m also hoping that this has a lasting significance for her relationship with Lord Wyldon. I should have realized that he would still believe that Kel’s “experiment” was nothing more than an attempt by a young girl to buck social expectations. But how can he believe what he believes now that every page that was with her swears that she was the one who saved them all? LORD WYLDON, COME ON. I know it’s uncomfortable to think about, but she proved you wrong. Give her a chance.
Lord, I love this book so much.
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