In the first chapter of Squire, Kel worries about who will choose her as their squire and receives surprising news about her future. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start Squire.
Chapter One: Knight-Master
What an excellent start to this book. Seriously, y’all, this book is going to be something else. Right from the start, Tamora Pierce lets us know that Kel (and this series) is entering a new chapter. We should expect plenty of new characters, radically new experiences, and a whole lot of fun because RAOUL.
I’ll get to him later. Squire opens with a glimpse of the future – or, at least, a possible future for Kel, one that is a manifestation of her worst fear. Being the first woman squire in over a century, she knows she’s got a difficult journey ahead of her. She desperately wishes that Alanna the Lioness would take her on as her squire, but she knows it’s nearly an impossibility. And if Alanna doesn’t, who else will? Who would be willing to take on a lady squire? I think that’s why she waits so long to finally visit the Chapel of the Ordeal. That place represents a part of her journey that’s a long time away, sure, but she’s also unsure if she’ll even make it there. It’s not because she doubts her talent, but what if no one asks her to be their squire? Or what if she’s stuck doing desk work for four years? That’s what she sees when she touches the door. Her worst fear is that she’s asked to serve someone who keeps her indoors. She wants to be a knight, and it would break her heart if she’s not training under someone who will mold her into a warrior. That’s what she explains (in her own words) to Neal when she runs into him after this.
Of course, being Kel, she relies on her Yamani past to move on. She’ll deal with her knight-master when the time comes. I love how Tamora Pierce narrates Kel’s time in the practice yard. It’s very methodical, and it conveys how concentrated she is. Y’all, look how great Kel is. I know this scene also serves to set up Raoul of Goldenlake’s surprise appearance, but I really think I need to just stop and admire how skilled Kel is. Raoul agrees with me! She’s just fourteen years old, and she’s more talented than many of her peers. What’s so neat about this is the fact that she wasn’t talented when she started. She practiced regularly, even when she wasn’t supposed to, and used the adversities thrown at her as training opportunities. (The weighted lance is a great example.) Look at how skilled she is now! I LOVE YOU, KEL.
So I am (obviously) quite happy that Raoul recognizes this. But it’s not just Kel’s talent with a lance that catches Raoul’s attention. No, he lists numerous things she’s done that have impressed him, but not before HE ASKS HER TO BE HIS SQUIRE!!!!
OH MY GOD
OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST
I reached this line right at the end of the first video, and it was TOO MUCH TO DEAL WITH. I just started this book, and I’m very overwhelmed already. What is this book going to do to me?
So, then Raoul explains why he wants Kel as a squire, despite that he traditionally doesn’t take squires. (Well, he does this while Jump insists on him playing fetch. Bless.) Initially, Kel is worried that Raoul is taking her on out of pity. From what I do know about her, I know that she’d be upset if this was the case. Time and time again, we’ve seen her express distaste for the way she’s treated for being a woman, even if the result is positive. She’s thrilled, then, that Raoul wants her around because of who she is, not what gender she is, nor because he has some misguided sense of duty to her. I admit to swelling with pride as Raoul listed all the reasons why she was perfect for him. How could you not? I’m seriously so proud of Kel because I DON’T EVEN THINK I COULD DO THE THINGS SHE DOES. She amazes me, full stop.
I’m eagerly anticipating all the new changes in her life, which is one of the things that’s so fascinating about this chapter. Kel will not be living in a wing with her fellow squires like she did as a page. She’ll be spending most of her time with one person, Raoul, and probably won’t be attending classes like she traditionally did. (I think? I could be wrong about that.) We’re also introduced to Kel’s new horse, Hoshi! The changes Kel will have to deal with are more than just a different routine. She’s squire for the head of the King’s Own, which means she’s going to be out of Corus way more than she expected. She basically gets to go on field trips all the time. Okay, wait, perhaps I shouldn’t call them “field trips” because that ignores the fact that anyone could die on these excursions. Oh gods, we get to spend time with the King’s Own. DO YOU REALIZE HOW EXCITING THIS IS TO ME? Will I get to see more of Onua? Please? Can I start shipping Peachblossom and Hoshi? Thanks, I’d like to do that.
Yet as exciting and thrilling this all is, Tamora Pierce brings a heavy dose of emotional realism to this new development. It’s something I’ve always appreciated from her writing. Page in particular had quite a few scenes that were complicated for Kel, like her reactions to Lalasa’s behavior or how she felt once she was given two days to prepare and heal for her final examinations as a page. Good news doesn’t always come with good feelings, and I really love how Pierce explores this with Kel.
In this instance, Neal arrives to inform Kel that Alanna has taken him on as a squire. Now, Neal handles this situation with grace and kindness, and I’m so glad he totally understands why Kel would be upset about this. At the same time, Kel struggles with her own competing emotions. She’s happy for Neal. She is jealous that she is not Alanna’s squire. She’s excited that Raoul is her knight-master. She’s sad that she cannot muster up the courage to tell Neal that she has a crush on him. She wishes Neal felt the same way about her. This is such an accurate and layered bit of character development, y’all! We don’t always feel one emotion at once, and I think Pierce does a fine job conveying this to the reader. Also, Neal is so wonderful. He’s exactly what I’d want as a friend, you know?
When Kel’s maid, Lalasa, returned from signing a lease for her dressmaker’s shop –
I AM DONE I AM SO DONE!!!! OH MY GOD, SHE DID IT. SHE DID IT. I am so proud of Lalasa, too! Her transformation in the few pages in this chapter that she’s in is INCREDIBLE. We get to see how much she’s changed in the six week’s since the events at the end of Page, and it’s clear she’s taking her dressmaker career quite seriously. Of course, it fills with feelings because we know that Kel has been such a positive influence on Lalasa, and vice versa. Lalasa has become a businesswoman. IT’S AWESOME. She gets shit done! All the while, she repeatedly reassures Kel that she’ll still be her maid. FOR FREE. No, stop it, you are setting unrealistic expectations for friendships everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
But I think it was Kel saying goodbye to some of her sparrows that just ruined me. Oh my god, she basically raised them, and only about ten of them can come with her. Nope, I can’t deal with saying goodbye to animals. When I ran away from home, I never got to say goodbye to all my lovely dogs, and I will hold this against myself until the end of time. 🙁
Cute oppression 🙁
Kel saying goodbye 🙁
BUT RAOUL IS KEL’S KNIGHT-MASTER. 🙂 🙂 🙂
I am so excited for this book, y’all.
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