First Test

Book 1 of the Protector of the Small Quartet

Look inside
Kel will not allow this first test to be her last. Her adventure begins in the New York Times bestselling series from the fantasy author who is a legend herself: TAMORA PIERCE.
 
Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl who dares to take advantage of a new rule in Tortall—one that allows females to train for knighthood. After years in the Yamani Islands, she knows that women can be warriors, and now that she’s returned home, Kel is determined to achieve her goal. She believes she is ready for the traditional hazing and grueling schedule of a page. But standing in Kel’s way is Lord Wyldon. The training master is dead set against girls becoming knights. He says she must pass a one-year trial that no male page has ever had to endure. It’s just one more way to separate Kel from her fellow trainees. But she is not to be underestimated. She will fight to succeed, even when the test is unfair.

More timely than ever, the Protector of the Small series is Anti-Bullying 101 while also touching on issues of bravery, friendship, and dealing humanely with refugees against a backdrop of an action-packed fantasy adventure.

"Tamora Pierce's books shaped me not only as a young writer but also as a young woman. She is a pillar, an icon, and an inspiration. Cracking open one of her marvelous novels always feels like coming home."
SARAH J. MAAS, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Tamora Pierce didn't just blaze a trail. Her heroines cut a swath through the fantasy world with wit, strength, and savvy. Her stories still lead the vanguard today. Pierce is the real lioness, and we're all just running to keep pace."
LEIGH BARDUGO, #1 New York Times bestselling author
© Stephen Mosher
TAMORA PIERCE is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over eighteen novels set in the fantasy realm of Tortall. She first captured the imagination of readers with her debut novel, Alanna: The First Adventure. Since then, her bestselling and award-winning titles have pushed the boundaries of fantasy and young adult novels to introduce readers to a rich world populated by strong, believable heroines. Her books have been translated into many languages, and some are available on audio from Listening Library and Full Cast Audio. In 2013, she won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.” Pierce lives in Syracuse, New York, with her husband, Tim, and their cats, birds, and occasional rescued wildlife. Visit her at TamoraPierce.com and follow her on Twitter at @TamoraPierce. View titles by Tamora Pierce
Decisions

Alanna the Lioness, the Kino Champion, could hardly contain her glee. Baron Piers of Mindeldan had written to King Jonathan to say that his daughter wished to be a page. Alanna fought to sit still as she watched Wyldon of Cavall, the royal training master, read the barons letter. Seated across his desk from them, the king watched the trainig master as sharply as his Champion did. Lord Wyldon was known for his dislike of female warriors.

It had been ten long years since the proclamation that girls might attempt a page’s training Alanna had nearly given up hope that such a girl- or the kind of family that would allow her to do so-,existed in Tortall, but at last she had come forward. Keladry of Mindelan would not have to hide her sex for eight years as Alanna had done. Keladry would prove to the world that girls could be knights. And she would not be friendless. Alanna had plans to help Keladry through the first few years. It never occurred to the Champion that anyone might object.

Alanna, half turned to see Wyldon better. Surely he'd read the letter at least twice! From this side the puffy scars from his battle to save the younger princes and princess were starkly visible; Wyldod’s right arm was in a sling yet from that fight. Alanna rubbed fingers that itched with the urge to apply healing magic. Wyldon had the idea that suffering pain made a warrior stronger. He would not thank her if she tried to heal him now.

Goddess bless, she thought tiredly. How will I ever get on with him if I'm to help this girl Keladry?

Wyldon was not flexible: he'd proved that to the entire court over and over. If he were any stiffer, Alanna thought wryly, I’d paint a design on him and use him for a shield. He's got no sense of humor and he rejects change just because it's change.

Still, she had to admit that his teaching worked. During the Immortals War of the spring and early summer, when legendary creatures had joined with the realm’s human enemies to take the kingdom, the squires and pages had been forced into battle. They had done well, thanks to their training by Wyldon and the teachers he had picked.

At last Lord Wyldon returned the letter to King Jonathan, who placed it on his desk. "The baron and the baroness of Mindelan are faithful servants of the crown,” the king remarked. “We would not have this treaty with the Yamani Islands were it not for them. You will have read that their daughter received some warrior training at the Yamani court, so it would appear that Keladry has an aptitude."

Lord Wyldon resettled his arm in its sling. "I did not agree to this, Your Majesty."

Alanna was about to say that he didn’t have to agree when she saw the king give the tiniest shake of the head. Clenching her jaws, she kept her remark to herself as King Jonathan raised his eyebrows.

"Your predecessor agreed," he reminded Wyldon. "And you, my lord, implied agreement when you accepted the post of training master."

"That is a lawyer's reply, sire,” Wyldon replied stiffly, a slight flush rising in his cean-shaven cheeks.

"Then here is a king's: we desire this girl to train as a page."

And that is that, Alanna thought, satisfied. She might be the kind of knight who would argue with her king, at least in private, but Wyldon would never let himself do so.

The training master absently rubbed the arm in its linen sling. At last he bowed in his chair. "May we compromise, sire?"

Alanna stiffened. She hated that word! "Com---" she began to say.

The king silenced her with a look. "What do you want, my lord?"

"In all honesty," said the training master, thinking aloud, "I had thought that our noble parents loved their daughters too much to place them in so hard a life."

"Not everyone is afraid to do anything new," Alanna replied sharply.

"Lioness," said the king, his voice dangerously quiet. Alanna clenched her fists. What was going on? Was Jonathan inclined to give way to the man who'd saved his children?

Wyldon's eyes met hers squarely. "Your bias is known, Lady Alanna." To the king he said, "Surely the girl's parents cannot be aware of the difficulties she will encounter."

"Baron Piers and Lady Ilane are not fools” replied King Jonathan. "They have given us three good, worthy knights already,"

Lord Wyldon gave a reluctant nod. Anders, Inness, and Conal of Mindelan were credits to their training. The realm would feel the loss of Anders-whose war wounds could never heal entirely-from the active duty rolls. It would take years to replace those who were killed or maimed in the Immortals War.

"Sire, please, think this through,” Wyldon said. "We need the realm’s sons. Girls are fragile, more emotional, easier to frighten. They are not as strong in their arms and shoulders as men. They tire easily. This girl would get any warriors who serve with her killed on some dark night.

Alanna started to get up. This time King Jonathan walked out from behind his desk. Standing beside his Champion, he gripped one of her shoulders, keeping her in her chair.

".But I will be fair," Wyldon continued. His brown eyes were hard. “Let her be on probation for a year. By the end of the summer field camp, if she has not convinced me of her ability to keep up, she must go home."

"Who judges her fitness?" inquired the king.

Wyldon’s lips tightened. "Who but the training master, sire? I have the most experience in evaluating the young for their roles as future knights."

Alanna turned to stare at the king. "No boy has ever undergone a probationary period!" she cried.

Wyldon raised his good shoulder in a shrug. "Perhaps they should. For now, I will not tender my resignation over this, provided I judge whether this girl stays or goes in one year's time."

The king weighed the request. Alanna fidgeted. She knew Lord Wyldon meant his threat, and the crown needed him. Too many great nobles, dismayed by the changes in Tortall. since Jonathan’s coronation, felt that Wyldon was their voice at court. If he resigned, the king and queen would find it hard to get support for their future changes.

At last King Jonathan said, "Though we do not always agree, my lord, you know I respect you because you are fair and honorable. I would hate to see that fairness, that honor, tainted in any way. Keladry of Mindelan shall have a year's probation."
  • WINNER | 2001
    Massachusetts Children's Book Award
“Tamora Pierce creates epic worlds populated by girls and women of bravery, heart, and strength. Her work inspired a generation of writers and continues to inspire us.”
HOLLY BLACK, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Few authors can slay so effectively with a single sentence—I mean fist-in-the-air, shouting-at-my-book slay—as Tamora Pierce. All these years later, I still draw strength from her words.”
MARIE LU, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce is a seminal figure in the fantasy field of writing, turning out one terrific book after another.”
TERRY BROOKS, New York Times bestselling author of the Sword of Shannara trilogy

“It’s impossible to overstate Tamora Pierce’s impact on children’s literature. Her tough, wise, and wonderful heroines have inspired generations of readers.”
RAE CARSON, New York Times bestselling author

“In the world of YA fantasy, there’s before Tamora Pierce, and then after her female heroes started kicking down the doors (and walls, and other barriers)!”
BRUCE COVILLE, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce is a trailblazer for so many fantasy writers, hacking through the old tropes with her narrative machete and showing us that girl-centered adventures are not just possible but amazing.”
RACHEL HARTMAN, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce’s writing is like water from the swiftest, most refreshingly clear, invigorating, and revitalizing river.”
GARTH NIX, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce is gloriously unafraid to give her readers joy and laughter along with adventure and struggle, to let us love her characters wholeheartedly and find the best of ourselves in them.”
NAOMI NOVIK, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce and her brilliant heroines didn’t just break down barriers; they smashed them with magical fire.”
KATHERINE ARDEN, author of The Bear and the Nightingale

“Tamora Pierce’s bold, courageous heroines illuminate the journey to womanhood.”
CALLIE BATES, author of The Waking Land

“Tamora Pierce is the queen of YA fantasy, and we are all happy subjects in her court.”
JESSICA CLUESS, author of A Shadow Bright and Burning

“Tamora Pierce’s novels gave me a different way of seeing the world. They were like nothing I’d encountered before. Alanna stormed her way into my thirteen-year-old heart and told me that I could write gorgeous, complicated novels about vibrantly real people in fantastic situations, and to be honest, she’s never left.”
ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON, award-winning author of Love Is the Drug

About

Kel will not allow this first test to be her last. Her adventure begins in the New York Times bestselling series from the fantasy author who is a legend herself: TAMORA PIERCE.
 
Keladry of Mindelan is the first girl who dares to take advantage of a new rule in Tortall—one that allows females to train for knighthood. After years in the Yamani Islands, she knows that women can be warriors, and now that she’s returned home, Kel is determined to achieve her goal. She believes she is ready for the traditional hazing and grueling schedule of a page. But standing in Kel’s way is Lord Wyldon. The training master is dead set against girls becoming knights. He says she must pass a one-year trial that no male page has ever had to endure. It’s just one more way to separate Kel from her fellow trainees. But she is not to be underestimated. She will fight to succeed, even when the test is unfair.

More timely than ever, the Protector of the Small series is Anti-Bullying 101 while also touching on issues of bravery, friendship, and dealing humanely with refugees against a backdrop of an action-packed fantasy adventure.

"Tamora Pierce's books shaped me not only as a young writer but also as a young woman. She is a pillar, an icon, and an inspiration. Cracking open one of her marvelous novels always feels like coming home."
SARAH J. MAAS, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Tamora Pierce didn't just blaze a trail. Her heroines cut a swath through the fantasy world with wit, strength, and savvy. Her stories still lead the vanguard today. Pierce is the real lioness, and we're all just running to keep pace."
LEIGH BARDUGO, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Author

© Stephen Mosher
TAMORA PIERCE is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over eighteen novels set in the fantasy realm of Tortall. She first captured the imagination of readers with her debut novel, Alanna: The First Adventure. Since then, her bestselling and award-winning titles have pushed the boundaries of fantasy and young adult novels to introduce readers to a rich world populated by strong, believable heroines. Her books have been translated into many languages, and some are available on audio from Listening Library and Full Cast Audio. In 2013, she won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.” Pierce lives in Syracuse, New York, with her husband, Tim, and their cats, birds, and occasional rescued wildlife. Visit her at TamoraPierce.com and follow her on Twitter at @TamoraPierce. View titles by Tamora Pierce

Excerpt

Decisions

Alanna the Lioness, the Kino Champion, could hardly contain her glee. Baron Piers of Mindeldan had written to King Jonathan to say that his daughter wished to be a page. Alanna fought to sit still as she watched Wyldon of Cavall, the royal training master, read the barons letter. Seated across his desk from them, the king watched the trainig master as sharply as his Champion did. Lord Wyldon was known for his dislike of female warriors.

It had been ten long years since the proclamation that girls might attempt a page’s training Alanna had nearly given up hope that such a girl- or the kind of family that would allow her to do so-,existed in Tortall, but at last she had come forward. Keladry of Mindelan would not have to hide her sex for eight years as Alanna had done. Keladry would prove to the world that girls could be knights. And she would not be friendless. Alanna had plans to help Keladry through the first few years. It never occurred to the Champion that anyone might object.

Alanna, half turned to see Wyldon better. Surely he'd read the letter at least twice! From this side the puffy scars from his battle to save the younger princes and princess were starkly visible; Wyldod’s right arm was in a sling yet from that fight. Alanna rubbed fingers that itched with the urge to apply healing magic. Wyldon had the idea that suffering pain made a warrior stronger. He would not thank her if she tried to heal him now.

Goddess bless, she thought tiredly. How will I ever get on with him if I'm to help this girl Keladry?

Wyldon was not flexible: he'd proved that to the entire court over and over. If he were any stiffer, Alanna thought wryly, I’d paint a design on him and use him for a shield. He's got no sense of humor and he rejects change just because it's change.

Still, she had to admit that his teaching worked. During the Immortals War of the spring and early summer, when legendary creatures had joined with the realm’s human enemies to take the kingdom, the squires and pages had been forced into battle. They had done well, thanks to their training by Wyldon and the teachers he had picked.

At last Lord Wyldon returned the letter to King Jonathan, who placed it on his desk. "The baron and the baroness of Mindelan are faithful servants of the crown,” the king remarked. “We would not have this treaty with the Yamani Islands were it not for them. You will have read that their daughter received some warrior training at the Yamani court, so it would appear that Keladry has an aptitude."

Lord Wyldon resettled his arm in its sling. "I did not agree to this, Your Majesty."

Alanna was about to say that he didn’t have to agree when she saw the king give the tiniest shake of the head. Clenching her jaws, she kept her remark to herself as King Jonathan raised his eyebrows.

"Your predecessor agreed," he reminded Wyldon. "And you, my lord, implied agreement when you accepted the post of training master."

"That is a lawyer's reply, sire,” Wyldon replied stiffly, a slight flush rising in his cean-shaven cheeks.

"Then here is a king's: we desire this girl to train as a page."

And that is that, Alanna thought, satisfied. She might be the kind of knight who would argue with her king, at least in private, but Wyldon would never let himself do so.

The training master absently rubbed the arm in its linen sling. At last he bowed in his chair. "May we compromise, sire?"

Alanna stiffened. She hated that word! "Com---" she began to say.

The king silenced her with a look. "What do you want, my lord?"

"In all honesty," said the training master, thinking aloud, "I had thought that our noble parents loved their daughters too much to place them in so hard a life."

"Not everyone is afraid to do anything new," Alanna replied sharply.

"Lioness," said the king, his voice dangerously quiet. Alanna clenched her fists. What was going on? Was Jonathan inclined to give way to the man who'd saved his children?

Wyldon's eyes met hers squarely. "Your bias is known, Lady Alanna." To the king he said, "Surely the girl's parents cannot be aware of the difficulties she will encounter."

"Baron Piers and Lady Ilane are not fools” replied King Jonathan. "They have given us three good, worthy knights already,"

Lord Wyldon gave a reluctant nod. Anders, Inness, and Conal of Mindelan were credits to their training. The realm would feel the loss of Anders-whose war wounds could never heal entirely-from the active duty rolls. It would take years to replace those who were killed or maimed in the Immortals War.

"Sire, please, think this through,” Wyldon said. "We need the realm’s sons. Girls are fragile, more emotional, easier to frighten. They are not as strong in their arms and shoulders as men. They tire easily. This girl would get any warriors who serve with her killed on some dark night.

Alanna started to get up. This time King Jonathan walked out from behind his desk. Standing beside his Champion, he gripped one of her shoulders, keeping her in her chair.

".But I will be fair," Wyldon continued. His brown eyes were hard. “Let her be on probation for a year. By the end of the summer field camp, if she has not convinced me of her ability to keep up, she must go home."

"Who judges her fitness?" inquired the king.

Wyldon’s lips tightened. "Who but the training master, sire? I have the most experience in evaluating the young for their roles as future knights."

Alanna turned to stare at the king. "No boy has ever undergone a probationary period!" she cried.

Wyldon raised his good shoulder in a shrug. "Perhaps they should. For now, I will not tender my resignation over this, provided I judge whether this girl stays or goes in one year's time."

The king weighed the request. Alanna fidgeted. She knew Lord Wyldon meant his threat, and the crown needed him. Too many great nobles, dismayed by the changes in Tortall. since Jonathan’s coronation, felt that Wyldon was their voice at court. If he resigned, the king and queen would find it hard to get support for their future changes.

At last King Jonathan said, "Though we do not always agree, my lord, you know I respect you because you are fair and honorable. I would hate to see that fairness, that honor, tainted in any way. Keladry of Mindelan shall have a year's probation."

Awards

  • WINNER | 2001
    Massachusetts Children's Book Award

Praise

“Tamora Pierce creates epic worlds populated by girls and women of bravery, heart, and strength. Her work inspired a generation of writers and continues to inspire us.”
HOLLY BLACK, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Few authors can slay so effectively with a single sentence—I mean fist-in-the-air, shouting-at-my-book slay—as Tamora Pierce. All these years later, I still draw strength from her words.”
MARIE LU, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce is a seminal figure in the fantasy field of writing, turning out one terrific book after another.”
TERRY BROOKS, New York Times bestselling author of the Sword of Shannara trilogy

“It’s impossible to overstate Tamora Pierce’s impact on children’s literature. Her tough, wise, and wonderful heroines have inspired generations of readers.”
RAE CARSON, New York Times bestselling author

“In the world of YA fantasy, there’s before Tamora Pierce, and then after her female heroes started kicking down the doors (and walls, and other barriers)!”
BRUCE COVILLE, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce is a trailblazer for so many fantasy writers, hacking through the old tropes with her narrative machete and showing us that girl-centered adventures are not just possible but amazing.”
RACHEL HARTMAN, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce’s writing is like water from the swiftest, most refreshingly clear, invigorating, and revitalizing river.”
GARTH NIX, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce is gloriously unafraid to give her readers joy and laughter along with adventure and struggle, to let us love her characters wholeheartedly and find the best of ourselves in them.”
NAOMI NOVIK, New York Times bestselling author

“Tamora Pierce and her brilliant heroines didn’t just break down barriers; they smashed them with magical fire.”
KATHERINE ARDEN, author of The Bear and the Nightingale

“Tamora Pierce’s bold, courageous heroines illuminate the journey to womanhood.”
CALLIE BATES, author of The Waking Land

“Tamora Pierce is the queen of YA fantasy, and we are all happy subjects in her court.”
JESSICA CLUESS, author of A Shadow Bright and Burning

“Tamora Pierce’s novels gave me a different way of seeing the world. They were like nothing I’d encountered before. Alanna stormed her way into my thirteen-year-old heart and told me that I could write gorgeous, complicated novels about vibrantly real people in fantastic situations, and to be honest, she’s never left.”
ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON, award-winning author of Love Is the Drug

2024 Middle and High School Collections

The Penguin Random House Education Middle School and High School Digital Collections feature outstanding fiction and nonfiction from the children’s, adult, DK, and Grupo Editorial divisions, as well as publishers distributed by Penguin Random House. Peruse online or download these valuable resources to discover great books in specific topic areas such as: English Language Arts,

Read more

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

Read more

PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

Read more

PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

Read more