Against all odds, Page Keladry of Mindelan is back for her second year of training in King Jonathanís palace. Lord Wyldon has set up a much more difficult training regime for the second-year pages: advanced jousting, sword, staff and hand-to-hand combat techniques normally taught to knights-in-training. With the fear that Lord Wyldon will change his mind about her staying at any given moment, Kel pushes herself to be better than the boys at everything she does.
At the request of her manservant Gower, Kel hires his niece Lalasa to be her personal maid. A timid girl with a history of verbal and physical abuse, Kel tries to remain Yamani calm as Lalasa struggles to overcome her crippling shyness. Although Lalasa is an excellent servant, she seems to find trouble without having to look for it. Several men have tried to force themselves upon Lalasa, forcing Kel to take action and teach them a lesson in honor and chivalry.
The next three years of Kelís page training fly by. Before she knows it, she has grown several inches taller and puberty has hit full-force. The boys start to notice that she really is a girl underneath all her body armor and tough attitude. Budding breasts arenít the only things changingóalthough Kel once completely dismissed the thought of her ever taking a husband, feelings for her sponsor and friend Neal fill her with doubt.
In this sequel to First Test, Tamora Pierce has us step back into her rich fantasy realm of the Kingdom of Tortall. The anticipation of Kel becoming a squire is riveting, especially as Kel tries to overcome her fear of heights. Descriptions of fear, love and growing pains are powerfully real. However, the timeline flies by so quickly in this novel that the reader is cheated out of additional plot details. Kel is a terrific character who embodies strength, honor, wisdom and courageóget this in the hands of every young teenager you know.
Meghan Fryett/2006 for curled
up with a good kid's book