Read for the YA 2008 Reading Challenge.
First Test is the third trilogy set in the land of Tortall (the present day, as it were, until the story in Terrier). In it, we met Keladry of Mindelan, the first girl to openly attempt to become a knight in at least a century in Tortall.
This was a sweet book, extremely reminiscent of Alanna, the First Adventure, with an interesting contrast, since although the reader knew Alanna was a girl, she had concealed that fact from everyone in the story.
Here, Kel is trying to prove that Alanna was no fluke, and women deserve to serve as knights. Naturally, many of the men need some time to get used to this idea. First Test follows Kel’s first year at the palace.
The one thing I really noticed about this book, having so recently read Terrier, is the noticeable contrast in length and complexity between these two books. I believe it was in one of the Trickster books (the duology that comes after this series – yes I’ve gotten myself out of order), or perhaps in an interview with Tamora Pierce that I read during the time I was reading those books, where she noted that one of the things that Harry Potter did for the young adult market that she really appreciated was to make it acceptable to write longer books. I hadn’t realized how true this was until I read Terrier, published within the last several years, and this book, published in 1999, back to back. Pierce’s earlier works, both the Tortall books and the Circle of Magic books, are smaller books, easily read by an adult in a day, if you don’t need to take a break. The newer books are definitely longer, and I’m really happy to realize that. I’ve long been a big fan of the young adult section, and in more recent years, I’ve found more new books there that I’ve loved than in any other section. I’m excited that the genre seems to be growing, and people are feeling free to really great, complex books for young adults.