Mark Reads ‘Lady Knight’: Chapter 12

In the twelfth chapter of Lady Knight, Kel finds more survivors from the attack on Haven, but then clashes with what she’s expected to do in the aftermath of the massacre. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Lady Knight.

Chapter Twelve: Renegade

This chapter is, largely speaking, split into two distinct halves, so I’d like to address each part separately if you don’t mind!

Kel as a renegade

I’d argue that we were always leading to this point, and I am surprised (once again) that I did not figure this out before it was told to me. The ending of Page essentially foreshadowed this, didn’t it? We’ve known for a long time that Kel both eagerly wanted to be a knight and questioned the very culture that she was joining. She hated the anti-women sentiment she faced, but then sought to make herself he exception of it. She risked giving up the change to become a squire because she knew it was more moral for her to save Jump and Lalasa than to attend her examinations. So it’s like Kel hasn’t chosen to buck the rules before. (I’ll bring up Raoul and Wyldon’s conversation as evidence of this later.)

Plus, the huge story and character twist here is representative of the theme of this quartet as a whole. Kel believes herself to be the protector of the small, even if that’s not a conscious thing all the time. So as she searches the grounds of Haven for more survivors, she begins to feel personally responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the refugees and convicts that are missing. Though I have to admit that it’s much more complicated than this; Tamora Pierce gives us a very complicated reaction on Kel’s part because… well, this is deeply complicated disaster that she is dealing with. For example:

“Neither of us can know that,” Kel told her friend. “I might have done the same thing. So stop torturing yourself.”

It’s not lost on me that Kel gives Merric good advice in this chapter, and then she refuses to take that very advice herself. She is viciously hard on herself. However, I think Pierce portrays this both as a flaw and an admirable quality. Kel’s dedication to the people of Haven is precisely one of the reasons she wants to save them, even if her (quite Gryffindor) bravery is foolish and impractical. At the same time, we see that other characters like Merric actually feel similar to the way that Kel does. Most of that comes in the second half of the chapter, but there’s that moment where Merric apologizes for letting everyone down, despite that he did no such thing, is SO ENDLESSLY HEARTBREAKING.

Well, all of this is pretty heartbreaking, but that sort of goes without saying. what have you done to me.

This includes Kel’s rage and disappointment at her current situation. Upon hearing of the Scanran killing machine trap, her heart turns to bitterness. Again, she can’t help lingering on what might have been had she actually had the military support that she thinks she needed. Personally, I don’t know that another company added to Kel’s roster would have been able to hold off the ambush, but she believes it. It doesn’t help that it becomes obvious to her that Haven got the least number of troops, despite that there were the most citizens needing protection there. And she even acknowledges that the scope of the war is so much larger than just Haven! She knows that the lengthy border between Tortall and Scanra must be protected, but that doesn’t necessarily make her feel better about what happened at Haven (especially since she wasn’t there to protect anyone).

But it’s at the precise moment where Wyldon informs Kel and Neal that the killing machine trap slowed the Tortallan forces enough that the trail is cold that Kel cannot handle this disaster anymore. Wyldon is unusually snappy with Kel, only in the sense that he’s been so sweet and understanding with her. Here, he almost talks down to her with condescension in his voice, even if he doesn’t mean to sound that way. As she tries to tell him that they’re missing hundreds of refugees (and that they are her responsibility), he insists multiple times that there are bigger problems. And I get what he’s saying here! From a purely military perspective, the threat of multiple Scanran attacks in the future is a big deal. It’s the pattern Maggur’s followed before, so that’s why I think it’s important to acknowledge that Wyldon’s behavior isn’t meant as a way to insult Kel.

Except that for Kel, it feels like the world has given up on her and given up on her people. I don’t blame her for feeling this way, as misguided as she might be sometimes. Haven was her first “assignment” as a knight, and this is what has become of it. Not only that, but as Raoul later points out, one of her personal triggers is the kidnapping of people she loves. And she deeply cares about the refugees of Haven!

Actually, not just them:

The Scanran corpses they laid on a pyre on the far side of the river and burned. Kel was the only one to pray for these men, sent by their king to die so far from home.

At the very least, I appreciate that Kel (and Pierce, by this logic) doesn’t forget that the people she’s fighting against have their own perspective and their own duty to follow. That’s fascinating to me because of Kel’s decision in the middle of this chapter:

Was this the moment the Chamber had spoken of, when her path to Blayce the Gallan became clear? She hoped it was, because she was about to destroy all she had worked for to recapture her people. If she could. She was only one person. She wasn’tgod-touched, as Alanna the Lioness was. But she had to try, because she couldn’t live with an obedient return to Mastiff, leaving her people to the Scanrans. She had promised to keep them safe. She had failed at that, but she must not fail to bring them home.

This is simply one of my favorite passages in this whole book because it encapsulates why Kel is such a heroic person to me. Like the decision she had to make in Page, Kel ponders the moral implications of her role for the crown. As was the case when she chose to rescue Lalasa and Jump, Kel recognizes that she couldn’t live with herself if she obeyed orders and followed protocol. She’s well aware of the risks of doing this all alone: She could be captured and tortured or killed. She could be accused of treason. She could very well break Tobe’s heart for disappearing on him. And yet, she makes the choice to try and save others over her own well-being.

My gods, I love Kel.

The Aftermath

It’s at this point that Pierce shockingly switches the point of view of this chapter (without any indication that she’s going to do so) from Kel to her companions. I think it is a bold move, especially since we’re technically left on a cliffhanger for the main character IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHAPTER. So we have no idea where Kel is; instead, we find out that she slipped away from Sergeants Connac and Hevlor from their perspective.

It’s fascinating to see the reaction of those who know Kel, both because they’re not that surprising, and because it works wonders for character development for everyone involved. LITERALLY EVERYONE. Raoul and Wyldon are furious, though they’re more mad that neither of them realized that this is precisely what Kel would do:

“Did you believe she would let them take her people? And yet you left her, just told her to bury the dead and report here…. I’d’ve wrapped her in chains and brought her back over her horse. This is the girl who risked having to repeat all four years as a page to find her maid.”

I MEAN, RIGHT? If she did what she did for her maid, what would she do for four hundred and fifty people???  Of course, I was also completely bewildered by the obvious staring at me in the face:

“No, Haven was another matter entirely. Five hundred-odd slaves will fuel a lot of iron monsters, don’t you think?”

THIS IS SO CLEAR AND I DID NOT POSTULATE IT OR GUESS IT AT ALL. OF COURSE THAT’S WHY THE REFUGEES ARE MISSING. Oh my god, do you realize what this means??? KEL IS PROBABLY GOING TO FIND BLAYCE. Oh shit, I just realized that in one of my recent reviews, I was perplexed by how Kel was going to find Blayce if she stayed in the same place. HELP ME, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS STAYING.

So, after Raoul says he isn’t going to forgive Wyldon if Kel dies (HELP, RAOUL FEELS ALL OVER THE PLACE), this story just goes to such a beautiful place that I can’t deal with it. It’s essentially a procession of every person who Kel ever positively affected realizing that they cannot leave her to go of on her own. Seriously:

  • Raoul gives a secret, voluntary mission to the King’s Own to go find Kel and help her out. EVERYONE VOLUNTEERS. LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. MY HEART CANNOT HANDLE THIS.
  • Seaver is the first of Kel’s yearmates to offer to go after her.
  • OWEN
  • And then Tobe.
  • Tobe.
  • TOBE.
  • He is heartbroken that Kel broke her promise to him, but he gets why she did it. Realizing it was foolish of her to leave on her own, he vows to go with the others to assist her because he cares about the refugees, too.
  • “And it wasn’t like he would be missed.” why don’t you push that dagger in my heart deeper, tamora pierce. why don’t you.

It’s just so immense to read, y’all. It’s a testament to Kel’s moral fiber, to her effect on others, to her infectious sense of duty. I love it so much.

As they rode out, no one noticed as three Stormwings perched in trees close to Mastiff took to the air. They soared high overhead, following the men up the Vassa road.


Please note that the text and the videos below have the words “mad” and “idiot” if they trigger you.

Part 1

Part 2

NOTE: Hello, friends! So, remember this post? Has the fandom come to a consensus about how to split up the remaining Tamora Pierce novels? If so, can I get a list of some sort that has the splits so that I can make a new post for commission buying? Thank you!!!!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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