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Pierce, Tamora.
New York : Random House, 2002.
IL 5-8, RL 5.7
ISBN 037591465X
In this fourth and final book in the Protector of the Small series, Keladry of Mindelan has finally become a knight despite many who have sought to keep her from her goal. Like all of the other squires, Kel had to pass through the Chamber of the Ordeal as her final test. She succeeded, and was then knighted. Unlike the other Knights however, Kel was shown a second vision before the Chamber released her – the vision of a small, unkempt man, the terrifying killing machines he created, and piles of dead children. “This is your task” the Chamber tells her. “It will find you. When it does, fix it.”

Several times each week since then the Chamber has sent her this vision during the night. Kel knows she must put a stop to the man, whom she has begun to call “the Nothing Man”, but has no idea who he is or where to find him. Her efforts are thwarted before she can even begin her search when Tortallan forces, including Kel, are sent to defend the northern border. Kel is now bound to stay and fight – she can’t sneak off and find her quarry.

Worse yet, Kel, who is anxious to see battle and worried that her commanders will try and protect the “Lady Knight” by giving her a position behind the lines, receives a most unusual assignment. At only 18 years of age she is to command a refugee camp near the front lines. There will be 700 men, women and children whose homes have been destroyed by the raiders. Kel will only have a small band of soldiers to help defend the camp – and half of them are convicts who have only signed on to get out of prison. Torn between her natural tendencies to help those in need, and her terrible nightly visions, Kel must find a way to fulfill both of her obligations before it’s too late.

The darkest of Pierce’s books yet, readers can see the events of September 11, which occurred while the author was in the middle of the story, reflected in the horrors of the war in Tortall.

Susan Dunn  (Colorado Blue Spruce Children's Award)

SUBJECTS:     Knights and knighthood -- Fiction.
                        Good and evil -- Fiction.


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