In the tenth chapter of Lady Knight, Kel learns what her style of commanding has done for the people of Haven. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Lady Knight.
Chapter Ten: The Refugees Fight
I love character development, and I LOVE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Lady Knight truly feels like the culmination of the experiences of the past three books and the nine chapters before this one in Protector of the Small. I’m not often one of those fans who insists that YOU HAVE TO READ EVERYTHING before you can ~truly understand~ a work of fiction, and Lady Knight actually feels this way. Kel’s characterization over the course of this series has changed so much with what she’s gone through, and I don’t think the Kel we knew in First Test is at all like the Kel who runs Haven. Yet at the same time, there is common thread from that first chapter to this point: Kel does her best to care about those around her.
Now, there are complications to that, of course, and I think “The Refugees Fight” presents them to us. Kel returns to Haven (which gained 112 new refugees), aware that her presence there keeps Haven safe. She knows that the confidence she inspires in others is because she’s stopped a few killing devices before. So it’s interesting to me that she is shocked when Neal, Zamiel, and Merric later insist that the people of Haven intrinsically trust Kel. I mean, she has that whole interaction with Saefas and Fanche upon returning that heavily implies that she’s won Fanche over to her side. But I think Kel wants to be humble about what she’s done. That’s part of it, but I also think what we’re dealing with is an issue of self-perception. She genuinely thinks she’s too inexperienced to be running having, despite that she’s got so many innate talents.
Let’s discuss some of those talents. Without any sort of hesitation, Kel breaks up the fight between two men who are feuding over a woman. She does this by treating them like misbehaving puppies, which is the most effective and hilarious way of dealing with men, and I believe we should adopt this as national policy forever. I mean, if it weren’t for their injuries, she’s basically sending them to their rooms. It’s a form of public humiliation that works so brilliantly. Even the way she deals with Mistress Peliwin has the best interests of Haven in mind. I think that if they weren’t in a refugee camp, Kel would have been a bit more delicate with Peliwin, but she makes a good point here:
“Instead, we now have two fellows who might be called to defend this place at the healer’s.”
Notice that after Kel disciplines every person involved, many more citizens of Haven come to Kel for their problems. So I agree with what Kel’s peers say to her when she meets with them in private moments later:
“Because they trust you,” Neal told her. “They look up to you.”
“They know you’ll be fair,” add Zamiel. All three nobles looked at him. While extremely competent, Zamiel seldom offered opinions.
“I hear them talk,” the clerk explained. “I believe they think it’s impossible for anyone to write and listen at the same time.” To Kel he said, “They missed you.”
“They surely did,” Merric told her. “I’d ask if they wanted help with something, and they’d say they’d wait for you to come back.” He grinned. “Frankly, I was glad of it.”
It’s too much for me to handle. These changes didn’t happen overnight, granted, but then the reality of what Kel has done has snuck up on her. She insists that “she barely knew what she was doing,” but I think she’s confusing the newness with this experience with her own talents, of which she clearly demonstrates whenever she interacts with the people of Haven.
It comes up again the next day when she’s pulled away from glaive/spear practice to help with plowing. Adner, the plowman who gets her to help him, knows that she won’t turn down his request and knows that she won’t complain, either. Though I suspect that Adner and his fellow plowmen and plowwoman also wanted some entertainment in watching Kel trying to control an ox and a plow for the first time. Seriously, as soon as Kel started thinking that this would be a cinch, I knew disaster was awaiting her.
Anyway, I was tricked by the chapter title! I initially thought that the refugees would fight Scanrans at some point, but then the little spat over Peliwin was clearly what the title was referencing, and then SURPRISE! I’M WRONG. THEY FIGHT SCANRANS AT THE END OF THE CHAPTER. It’s been fascinating seeing how the refugees have adapted to life at Haven, and part of them comes through in battle sequences. While they might not be the best-trained soldiers with years of experience, they rely on their instincts and natural talents. In that sense, aren’t they a little bit like Kel?
I’m real excited to see the councils that Neal suggested get formed. HOW GREAT WAS THAT IDEA, Y’ALL?
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