In the sixth chapter of Lady Knight, Kel rallies the people of Haven to defend the refugee camp from the killing devices. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Lady Knight.
Chapter Six: Defense Plans
This is not going to be an easy journey for Kel, and I appreciate that this is where Tamora Pierce has taken us. It’s interesting to think about how Kel started way back in First Test and how Pierce has played with her expectations of what it means to be a knight. I don’t think she’s saying that it’s immoral or bad to be a knight, though, but I do think this is the most painfully realistic book in the Tortall universe left. War is brutal, messy, tragic, and traumatic, and all of these things show up in one way or another in “Defense Plans.”
In the first portion of the chapter, the narrative focuses on the killing devices that infiltrate Haven. Kel generally performs well under pressure, and she does here as well, but the tension and terror is a million times worse because there are so many other people around. This isn’t like the battle near Giantkiller at the end of the last novel. There are untrained civilians everywhere, and quite a few of them are brutally killed as they try to fight against the killing machines. I think a lot of Kel’s fear comes from the fact that she feels personally responsible for taking care of everyone in Haven. That’s not a criticism, for the record. No, I think her care is what motivates her to act so swiftly and with such effectiveness. She knows that there are unqualified people trying to fight a thing that is completely alien to them. No one else there would know how to kill it because they’ve never seen it, you know?
Even then, despite that she and Numair brilliant take down the two devices, there are still casualties. And I like that Pierce has Kel feel the weight of the horror that she’s just seen. Yes, her Yamani background helps her keep her emotions collected enough so that her peers don’t think poorly of her (which is an issue in and of itself), but she still feels drained. She doesn’t feel victorious or joyous after protecting the people of Haven. Instead, she’s queasy and disgusted. That doesn’t mean she hates her job or that being a knight is inherently awful, you know?
There are also a ton of incredible little moments here, too:
It was good to know that when she needed him, Tobe was always there without argument or complaint. Part of his eagerness to help was still his worry that she would vanish, she knew, but she also liked to think it was because the little old man in him approved of the way she did things.
Stop being so cute, Kel.
“I don’t know how I managed before you came along,” she said, handing the empty flask back to him. “I did a good day’s work when I hired you.”
No, stop it, think about my emotions.
Fanche shook her head. “I was just thinking that maybe you’re worth your feed.”
Oh my god how am I supposed to deal with all of this happening in one chapter?
“Wyldon made a good choice when he put you in command here,” Duke Baird said with a tired smile. “He knows you have a fresh way of looking at things.”
I have melted from affection. It hurts to read this because Kel’s validation MEANS SO MUCH TO ME. But truthfully, the evidence of Duke Baird’s claim is everywhere. Kel is the one who thinks of the stones outside of Haven; she comes up with the idea of nets to trap the killing devices; she organizes the new refugees by their possible skills without being condescending to them; she’s the one who knows that there must be a burial squad. Kel is so amazing, y’all.
This chapter also features Numair telling everyone about Blaye Younger and his propensity for “the enslavement of the spirits of the dead.” I totally understood why Kel kept quiet about knowing where Blayce got the spirits from because… yeah, this was not the time to casually reveal that she got an assignment from the Chamber of the Ordeal because that would be incredibly distracting. IT WOULD! They’d all focus on the impossible happening instead of the information at hand. However, I do have to wonder how the hell Kel is ever going to find Blayce. No one knows where he is and she’s stuck in Haven. Except then Pierce gives us a clue:
“All this means that refugee camps are just storehouse of fuel for Blayce.”
OH. GREAT. So, he might try to raid a refugee camp to enslave the people there TO USE IN KILLING MACHINES? This is great. THIS IS A GREAT DEVELOPMENT. I AM FEELING A LOT OF GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS. Goddamn it, this book is so stressful, and it’s only going to get worse. But I’m left feeling a bit better about this all because Kel. Kel is in charge. Kel cares, and that means a lot to me. She’s the protector of these people, and she’s repeatedly shown that she is perfectly capable of being a wonderful commander. As bleak as this is, I have faith in her. I do! I JUST HAVE A TON OF FEELINGS ABOUT KELADRY OF MINDELAN, OKAY?
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