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First Test by Tamora Pierce
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I have so much love in me for Keladry. I first read this book in 7th grade when I discovered Tamora Pierce's books and fell in love with fantasy. Tamora Pierce's books, especially the protector of the small quartet, have always and will always have a special place in my heart because of how much they mean to me and how nostalgic I feel reading them. They are very, very special to me and I have always considered them to be completely underrated.

Nostalgia aside, First Test is just a wonderful book on it's own. It's not too long, just short of 230 pages, but the story and the worldbuilding don't suffer because of it's length. I do think it helps to have read the song of the lioness series and the immortals series before reading this but the book still makes plenty of sense without knowing anything about those books so you don't have to read them.

Kel and Neal are wonderful characters and I really enjoy their friendship. I also love how some of the other pages opinion of Kel changes over the course of the book and they also become really good friends with Kel.

It's hard for me to explain my love for this series and how much it means to me and because of that I can't really give the book the review it deserves. Just know that I really, really, really love this series and I highly recommend it, especially if you're just getting into high fantasy. ( )
  acciohaley | Apr 22, 2019 |
#1: First Test ★★★★
#2: Page ★★★★
#3: Squire ★★★★★

This review can also be found on my blog.

I read this quite some time ago, but only owned the first book and never continued with the series. For Christmas, I received books 2-4 and decided to re-read this so that I could jump into the rest. I had forgotten most of the plot, although all of it felt familiar to me. While I couldn’t have predicted anything that happened, once it happened I thought to myself “oh yeah, I remember that.” Luckily, I enjoyed it just as much as Tammy’s other books and am very excited to finally finish the series!

One of the things I love about Tammy’s writing is that she’s able to create such distinct characters. While most of her books focus on “strong” women, they’re not all the same. Where the Lioness is hot-tempered and loud, Daine is timid yet stubborn, Aly is quiet and calculating, and Kel is even and impenetrable. Each of her characters have different strengths and weaknesses, and I think that makes it possible for girls to find representation they are able to relate to.

This book follows Kel in her initial (probationary) year as a page, the first female page to enter the program since girls were allowed to join. There are plenty of obstacles along the way: a lot of the boys think that a girl doesn’t belong there alongside them. Kel’s advantage is that she and her family had lived with the Yamanis as an ambassador for most of her early life. The Yamani culture is much different from the one Kel has transitioned back into and one of the biggest things she has learned is to “be as stone” and hide all of her emotions behind a smooth mask.

Overall, I found the pacing to be great and the story fun to follow. I worked through the book fairly quickly and am looking forward to what comes next, although I plan to wait until Fantastic February in the Devour Your TBR group to continue reading since this series is obviously perfect to put on my TBR for it. I recommend this to all Tamora Pierce fans, as well as anyone looking for some YA fantasy with a strong female character. ( )
  samesfoley | Jan 19, 2019 |
Okay, this is probably soemthing that EVERYBODY on goodreads should know about me: Tamora Pierce was my FIRST favorite Author. She is a large part of my reading identity and also the reason I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grow up.

That being said, of course I loved this book.

**my book grading system has been adjusted for this book, since i can not grade the romance as there is none. The MC is only 10, after all.

The Characters: 9/10
Kel is only ten in this book, but she's a very strong character. She's the first girl who wants to become a knight after Alanna in Song of the Lioness, so it's very exciting. But she's told she'll be on probation for the first year and her first reaction is: I won't accept second-best. Then something happens and she decides that what she'll learn in one year is more important than her pride.
One thing that disturbed me about her character is that she spends all this time saying "I am stone. My heart is a lake as still as glass. I feel nothing." and stuff like that. she was taught to think like this while in the Yamani Islands, but it... it disturbs me. People should not strive to be stone. It's fine if you don't SHOW emotion, but you should FEEL it.

Neal: Oh, what can I say about Neal? He's sarcastic and smart and funny and I love him.

Cleon: ...Okay, I'm cheating because I've read this whole series before. not much happens with him... in THIS book.

Roald: Is nowhere near as interesting as Jonathan was in Song of the Lioness.

Joren: I do love me a good antagonist.

Plot: 9/10
So, this books plot is about Kel's first year as a probationary page. she learns everything the other pages are, and everyone knows she's a girl. And, the things that they're learning and the way they're learning them are different from the Song of the Lioness, which is a good thing since we don't want to have the same quartet all over again with different characters.

overall grade: 18/20 ( )
  Monica_P | Nov 22, 2018 |
This book is set in Pierce's Tortall universe which is a classic fantasy world, it is not the first book in the universe, but I like this one better as an adult reader. If you are 12 you might like Alanna better - go for it. The book is about Keladry who wants to become a knight in a world where only one other woman has done that in 200 years and the other woman disguised as a boy to make it. Keladry wants to train as a knight with the boys. It is very much about determination, about not accepting the glass ceiling, about working within a hostile organization, about fighting bullies. It is also a book about friendship and about a teenage girl with male friends who she is not romantically involved with. Keladry is focused and ditermited and so freaking kickass. ( )
  macthekat82 | May 26, 2018 |
Keladry, I have been missing you all my life.

First Test is about Kel of Mindelan, the first girl to apply for pageship since Alanna the Lioness became the first lady knight. Kel is allowed to enter the program on a one year probation to prove herself – not as an individual, but to prove that girls can do whatever boys do. She trains hard, works hard, and suffers hazing just like the boys – but she is not without her allies.

I cannot believe I waited twenty years to read this book. Yes, twenty. My first Tamora Pierce book was Wild Magic when I was eight, and I’ve read all Pierce’s other Tortall books. I have Tempests and Slaughter pre-ordered. I’ve read quite a few of her Emelan books as well (and I own all of them). I’ve been actively avoiding The Protector of the Small for years, figuring Alanna, Aly, and Daine were good enough… and I have fooled myself. First Test far surpasses both Alanna and Wild Magic.

The prejudice Kel faces as a girl in a boy’s club is so much different than Alanna’s experience. Kids can be cruel. But it’s not just the kids – many of her own teachers don’t believe a girl belongs in knighthood training, and are sure the Lioness cheated with her magical abilities. Watching Kel react to this and her inner monologue as well as her incredible discipline, is wonderful.

Additionally, Pierce has added a whole new layer of culture to Tortall. Kel was raised among the Yamani as an ambassador’s daughter. These islanders believe in a culture of deep respect and obedience, reminiscent of ancient Japanese culture. It’s an interesting mix with the brutish medieval culture at the palace, but it’s also refreshing. And also proof that Pierce is a master worldbuilder.

I love, love, loved this book. Kel’s a deeper character than the other girls – driven by a sense of virtue rather than her passions – but we still get all the delights of the palace. There are cameos by Daine, Numair, Alanna, and King Jonathan as well as others. The side characters are fantastic (I love Neal). There’s nothing to dislike about this book and my new goal in life is to get my friends’ daughter to read it. Keladry is an amazing role model for young girls.

Except for the picking fights bit? But she does it for all the right reasons. ( )
  Morteana | Dec 20, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tamora Pierceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patti,JoyceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tenneson, JoyceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watkins, LiselotteCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Jacqueline Korn and Bruce Hunter, the embodiment of English grace.
To Mallory, who totally made it happen (1999 Random House Fantasy paperback edition)
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Alanna the Lioness, the King's Champion, could hardly contain her glee.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
"You have one year in which to prove that you can keep up with the boys. If you do not satisfy me on that count, you will go home."

It's ten years since royal decree permitted girls to train as knights. No one applied - until now. Keladry of Mindelan is determined to follow in the footsteps of the nation's greatest legend: Alanna, Lioness of Tortall. She's in for a nasty surprise.

The royal training master, Lord Wyldon of Cavall, thinks girls should stick to embroidery. He will take her for one year only - on probation. If Keladry doesn't meet his exacting standards, she's out.

It seems so unfair. Keladry knows she's equal to any of the boys, but how can she hope to succeed when Lord Wyldon's mind is already made up?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679889175, Mass Market Paperback)

In the medieval and fantastic realm of Tortall, Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl to take advantage of the decree that permits females to train for knighthood.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight.

» see all 8 descriptions

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