In the eighth chapter of Squire, Kel is finally allowed the chance to confront the person responsible for Lalasa’s kidnapping, and nothing goes as expected. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Squire.
Chapter Eight: The Price of a Maid
Yeah, I was not emotionally prepared for this.
The journey back to Corus is a strange one, and it’s something that’s imparted through Tamora Pierce’s words. The events at the end of Page were huge. They were monumental. But looking back on them, Kel and Lalasa persevered. They got through that horrible, traumatic situation, and they found joy and happiness in their lives! Lalasa now has a dressmaking shop, and Kel is a satisfied squire with Lord Raoul as her knightmaster. The very things that challenged her made her stronger.
So it’s very bizarre to go back to the palace to deal with something that both parties had largely gotten over. Of course, I’m sure there were lasting mental affects of the kidnapping, and we know Lalasa’s temperament has changed. Kel overcame her fear of heights! But as Kel thinks about what happened to her maid and Jump, she becomes consumed with rage, and it’s something we haven’t really seen much of from her. And I think it’s important that Pierce shows us how Kel copes with the anger she feels, both at the injustice of what happened to her and her maid in April and towards the ultimate outcome of this case.
I came into this being nervous and slightly excited. I obviously wanted to know who the jerk was who hired the kidnappers, and was not surprised that it turned out to be Joren. Of course it was him. He was always the most vile and misogynistic of the group, so it made sense. But once Kel puts the pieces together and guesses who she’ll be facing, her Yamani upbringing is cast out nearly immediately. And I get it and support it! I have no issues with how this is portrayed. Kel’s entire purpose here is to protect the innocent, to help those who are ignored or marginalized by society, and it enrages her to know that someone of such high social standing would take a petty vendetta and nearly kill someone over it.
The courtroom scene is ceaselessly intense, initially so because it was unclear if Joren would actually face the crimes he committed. Though it’s one of the more uncomfortable chapters in any Tortall book thusfar, I actually found it to be the most impressive in terms of characterization. If you look at how Joren’s Master Advocate counters the witnesses, he is basically saying that poor people who commit crimes are NEVER CREDIBLE. He lays on the classism real thick, and what’s ultimately so horrifying about this is that the law supports classist ideology by itself. To us, it might be offensive to hear him imply that commoners are inherently untrustworthy, but Joren’s sentence supports the idea that commoners are literally worth less than nobles. And when Joren goes on his absolutely vile rant to attempt to justify his behavior, he creates a similar dichotomy that most people he knows believe, too. He wasn’t breaking the law; he was trying to protect the sanctity of the realm from those ~scary women~ who can ~do things on their own~. He places men firmly above women, and he cannot see it any other way. As Joren began to lose the power and privilege he felt he was entitled to have, he lashed out, and that’s a huge reason why he’s so abrasive here. He is losing, and he knows it. He knows that the patriarchal society in Tortall is slowly moving away from its history, and he uses violence and threats to try to keep things as they are.
It’s simply good characterization, y’all. It’s what we’ve seen from Joren throughout Protector of the Small. The same goes for Kel, who observes injustice and vows to fight against it. That’s why she stands up to Duke Turomot, incensed that Lalasa’s life is merely worth money when her own is worth jail or trial by combat. So it makes sense that Kel would ignore her Yamani temperament to protect the small. In this case, that would be Lalasa, again. I adore her for doing this, and I know it’s impractical, but I don’t care. All human lives should be valued the same, not devalued because of class strata or bloodlines. While it’s good that she took Raoul’s advice and asked for King Jonathan’s attention in a private setting, I’m pleased that this is so readily called out. When you think about it, while 100 gold crowns is a lot of money, that’s all it is. Money. Joren won’t go to prison, and he effectively got away with it. He’s still a squire, no? So what were the ramifications of his actions? His father lost some money?
You better believe I can’t wait for the next chapter. WHAT IS KEL GOING TO SAY?
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