In the fourth chapter of Squire, Kel is given her first official post while under Lord Raoul, and it ends in a surprising way. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Squire.
Chapter Four: Owlshollow
KEL. KEL. OH MY GOD.
Here’s the thing: I went into this chapter fully expecting that Kel would face some sort of challenge at her lone post, and despite that, I was still COMPLETELY UNPREPARED for how “Owlshollow” would end. Before Kel has her terrifying confrontation, though, we get a glimpse at how she will learn to be a knight from Lord Raoul. I’m not intentionally ignoring that huge things that happen at the end, but I really appreciate the subtle ways in which Tamora Pierce shows us how one’s education as a squire works.
In Lord Raoul’s case, he teaches through demonstration. He allows Kel to watch him and his party work and includes her along the way. It’s meaningful that he doesn’t cast her aside because the experience of searching for a raider party for fifteen days (!!!! THAT IS SO LONG !!!!) is worth it for Kel. That is what is going to help her acclimate to this lifestyle the best, you know? She’s just in it. In a sense, that’s why she’s also disappointed in her assignment once the group has figured out where the bandits are headed. Kel feels like she can be a part of this in a more significant way. She patiently waits on the Rider Group under Buri; she does her duty; and she listens. It was fascinating to watch these people put together the little information they had so that they could determine the best course of action. Again, having Kel see this is a big deal! How else is she going to learn about how to plan battle tactics or how to set up a trap?
So Kel is upset, then, when Raoul sticks her with Captain Flyndan. Kel, being of a Yamani upbringing and a good squire, refuses to question Raoul’s decision, though she secretly despises it. And really, Raoul didn’t have to tell her why he chose to do this, but I respect that he did anyway. He wants to integrate her fully into his group, to show the others that she is willing to be useful and dedicated. He’s also interested in changing Flyndan’s antiquated ideas of women in battle. What better way than to put Kel under his charge? I like that he’s just going to “see” how Flyndan treats her, implying that this is not a permanent thing. I don’t think he’s insensitive enough to make Kel’s time as a squire worse by constantly sticking her with someone who has a problem with her.
Still, Kel spends almost no time with Flyndan! I was surprised myself. Instead, she’s asked to guard a small game track that might be used as a possible escape path. As soon as this was brought up, I knew that Kel would face something while guarding the path. I tried to be prepared, y’all. I really did. Because of course Kel would be awesome, and she would use her training to save the day, and this was all totally obvi â€“
Was that a child crying?
In one sentence, Tamora Pierce just toppled me over. Okay, what? A child? Maybe a child was trying to escape? Ha, NO, IT’S ONLY A THOUSAND BILLION TIMES MORE FUCKED UP THAN THIS. A centaur was trying to kidnap a child. !!!!!!!!!! OKAY I DID NOT EXPECT THAT. And I did not expect what this would represent for Kel. Let me first state that Kel performs masterfully here, using her training and instinct to save the child and her own life. It is yet another example of her choosing to protect the small at the expense of herself, and I will forever adore her for it. At the same time, Kel must face the reality of what she will have to do as a knight: Sometimes, she is going to have to take a life to save another one. I think Pierce handles this about as flawlessly as one can in a situation like this. This is one of the most uncomfortable and unnerving passages in any of her books so far, and it’s a scene that needed to happen. Kel does everything she can to first save the young girl, and after that, she merely threatens or intimidates the centaur so that it doesn’t get past her.
But Pierce also acknowledges the sheer strength and size of the beast that Kel is facing. Kel is injured â€“ gravely so â€“ during this confrontation, showing the reader that even the most talented and brilliant of fighters is going to get hurt. After it attacks her with a throwing ax â€“ !!!!!!! NOT ENOUGH EXCLAMATION POINTS !!!!! â€“ she realizes that the creatures is probably going to kill her or the sparrows. So she sinks her gigantic blade into the stomach of the centaur, following it up with a mercy cut to end his life. And yet, even though she had every justification for killing this creature, she’s still upset as she watches the creature die. It’s so disturbing, y’all, and I’m interested to see how this is going to pan out for her.
Just as things start to calm down, though, EVERYTHING IS SO MESSED UP. Seriously, I was super pleased with Jump being awesome, and I was overwhelmed with the young girl clutching Kel’s leg, and everything was so cute. Well, relatively speaking. And then Kel remembers that there was some sort of creature hidden in one of the packs on the centaur! I guessed it was a centaur just a few sentences before it was revealed on the page, and I mostly thought it was cute and cool.
If a griffin’s parents smelled their offspring on a stranger, even years afterward, they would kill the person.
NOOOOOO! NO NO NO NO NO OH MY GOD WHY. WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO KEL. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM YELLING AT ANYMORE.
Oh my gods, this book just got so messed up.
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