In the fifteenth chapter of Page, Kel learns of the consequences of her actions. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Page.
Chapter Fifteen: Consequences
I am literally done with this book, and I am also emotionally done with this book. Because I CAN’T ANYMORE.
I spoke with a few folks at LeakyCon last month about the journey that Kel was going through in this book, and we all agreed that it was a narrative feat that Tamora Pierce was able to give us a second quartet about a young woman trying to become a knight without it ever feeling repetitive. This is an update on the world of Tortall after Alanna’s cultural revolution, and it’s vicious as much as it’s touching. But the main aspect that I noticed that’s different from Song of the Lioness is how very real the conclusion of Page felt. There was a undeniable chance that Kel would have to repeat one to four years of her education. There was a chance she’d be asked to drop out. What happened to her in the past couple chapters was traumatic and terrifying, and the opening pages of “Consequences” makes this abundantly real to the reader.
It’s that visceral fear and emotion that fills the words in this chapter and makes it such a tear-inducing experience. As the people Kel loves and cares for come to her side, she’s already given up. And I don’t see this as a weakness at all. Instead, I see it as Kel understanding the choice she made and ready to accept the consequences from it. To me, that is a sign of maturity. She does not expect or desire special treatment from Lord Wyldon, her peers, or her parents. Don’t get me wrong! She’s clearly happy to see these people, but she knows she chose to save Lalasa at the expense of her examinations. In a way, she made peace with that choice.
I also think it’s pretty damn smart to keep the mystery of who hired Kel’s kidnappers (as well as her secret benefactor) from the reader, because know I am SO TERRIBLY EXCITED for the next two books in this series. There are a few suspects, too. Vinson and Garvey both make awful comments when Kel returns to the mess hall, and Joren matter-of-factly asks Kel when she’s leaving. Oh. That’s not suspect at all, dude! UGH I HATE THESE THREE SO MUCH. I mean, Lord Wyldon (WE WILL GET TO HIM IN A SECOND OH MY GOD) mentions earlier in the chapter that Raoul had already informed all the pages and squires about what happened so as not to spread rumors, so these assholes knew that her servant and dog were kidnapped. THEY DON’T CARE. But they never have, and they’ve always displayed their hatred and bigotry openly because – here’s the catch – it’s always been socially acceptable for them to do so.
Which brings me to Lord Wyldon. Now, I will always find Kel’s story more interesting and will spend more time analyzing her journey. I think it’s important to focus on such things and not shift towards praising all the men for being decent people. Because while this might be a journey for Kel and her peers to accepting women in roles that were not traditionally accepted before, this is Kel’s life. Her struggles are painful and traumatic, you know? And while I’m certainly glad for all the side characters growing, I’d never want to spend more time on them than on the pain Kel goes through just to survive in this culture.
Lord Wyldon is, of course, the main example of this. I’m happy that he’s changing, especially because that is not easy to pull off as a writer. It’s a challenge to redeem a character who is initially presented in such a horrible light. And yet, Tamora Pierce is already starting to do this. There are so many signs here at the end of Page that suggest Wyldon has reached a turning point in his relationship with Kel. First of all, when Wyldon tells kel that the men who kidnapped Lalasa “will be found,” Kel remarks that “Wyldon’s tone was odd, almost gentle.” WHEN HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED EVER WHEN HE WAS TALKING TO HER? Never. It has never happened, and what feels like an out-of-character moment for Kel is the start of something else.
Wyldon is shockingly kind and abrupt with Kel in a way that we’ve never seen. When she plainly states that she is prepared to re-do all four years as a page for missing final examinations, Wyldon pretty much gives up all pretenses of acting as he once did:
“Do you expect me to believe you are looking forward to that?”
Kel shook her head. “No, my lord. But I was very late. That’s the penalty.” She bit the inside of her lip, thinking, I will not cry
To her astonishment, Lord Wyldon clasped her shoulder warmly. “Gods, Mindelan,” he said, “I would you had been born a boy.”
I mean, I just sat there in shock. He’s acknowledging that things would be easier for Kel if she weren’t a girl. Oh my god. That’s why I like that Tamora Pierce includes this line just after it:
When he walked on, Kel followed, thinking, But I like being a girl.
YES. YES. Because while Wyldon is trying to say something good, he’s not really doing anything helpful. Kel is a girl, he needs to deal with that fact, and it’s not going to make things better by wishing she was a boy. (Which is a good time to mention that even the boys understand this fact. They’ve all accepted that Kel is a girl, and they don’t back these weird half-compliments to her. PS: Neal. <3.) Still, he does change the prayer he normally gives at supper, and that is loaded with meaning, too. He references the Goddess for the first time, and implores everyone to “[s]trip the veils of hate from our eyes, and the grip of bitterness from our hearts.” IS HE TALKING ABOUT HIMSELF???
Of course, then the announcement comes. Duke Turomot, the Lord Magistrate, arrives and says the thing and the thing makes me tear up and the thing is just too much for me. Y’all, it’s such a fucking huge moment, one that really made me feel uplifted. IT’S INSPIRING. And ultimately, I need to say this: Kel deserves this. It’s interesting that she’s not entirely okay with the allowance she’s granted because, yet again, she sees this as undue attention, and I’m thankful that Tamora Pierce included this here. Not only is it a sign of continuity for the character, but it’s a valid reaction to the news. Now, obviously, Kel is pretty stoked to become a squire, and by the end of the book, this emotion doesn’t pop back up again, and it makes sense that it doesn’t! But speaking as someone who is marginalized in a number of ways, you totally get to a point where you’re just done with the fact that the world has to make concessions to you for things to be fair, and you just wish that you could have a normal experience like everyone else. RIGHT??? I know a lot of folks who feel this way at one time or another!
Ugh, okay, let’s just deal with this:
“Wyldon smiled crookedly. “I think I will no longer try to predict what will or will not happen to you, Squire Keladry. So far you have proved me wrong on every count. Even I can learn when to quit.”
Done. I am so done with this book. Wait, now I literally am, but you know what I mean. Oh my god, does this mean Wyldon won’t fight Kel anymore? IS THIS THE START OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP???
I really adore that this ends the same way as First Test because it’s got such a fascinating new context. In the last book, it was a sign that Kel had someone (Alanna????) on the outside who was supporting what she was doing, but this time around, I think things have changed. Aside from a few vocal assholes, Kel has so many supportive friends. Lord Wyldon appears to be willing to change his tune. The entire palace knows of her heroic actions. So as Kel enters her years as a Squire, it’s with more hope than she’s ever had. I’ll be interested to see what new challenges she is going to face and if Tamora Pierce will reveal who was behind Lalasa’s kidnapping. But I’m most excited to see Kel prove herself to everyone who was certain she would have given up already.
So many emotions.
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