The Chamber of the Ordeal has given Kel a task that could win the war and save countless lives. Kill the Nothing Man, who entraps the souls of children to fuel metal killing machines. But the Chamber is unable to give her any details, leaving her wondering how she can find the Nothing Man. Is there a way to fulfill her mission without breaking her oaths and abandoning her duty? Or will Kel have to sacrifice everything—including her life?
Unfortunately, Kel quickly finds herself trapped in Tortall when Lord Wyldon assigns her to run a refugee camp. Refugees are pouring in due to the war, and Kel worries they may be a target as the Nothing Man needs children to use for his machines. Kel cannot abandon the refugees, so she sets aside the Ordeal’s mission and works to make New Haven the best fort it can be. With constant attacks by Scanran forces, things are never quiet for long. And soon, an unimaginable tragedy will set Kel on a course that will end up with her going head to head against the Nothing Man, his magic, and his army.
Many readers will relate to Kel because she faces her troubles with determination, understanding that her actions have consequences. Kel’s journey was not easy. Throughout her journey, she shows physical and mental strength, but also the strength of conviction. Kel understands the importance of duty and is willing to go to any length to protect others.
Knight is a roller coaster from beginning to end. The story has a slightly darker tone than the previous books because it focuses on war and describes war’s causalities. Kel has become the knight she always wanted to be. She is kind, and brave, and noble—a great example for girls and boys everywhere. The plot will keep readers engaged, as will the wide cast of new characters. From Scanrans to refugees, Tamora Pierce once again has managed to create a wide cast of diverse characters that are as well-developed as they are lovable. The only disappointing thing about Knight is that it is the last book in Kel’s wonderful story.
- Kel thinks about how, “She and Cleon had kissed, had yearned for time and privacy in which to become lovers. He’d wanted to marry her, though she was not sure that she wanted marriage.”
- A man is shocked that a woman is in charge. He calls Kel, “’a shameless girl, a chit who’s no better than she ought to be!’ The insult to Kel, the claim that she was nearly a prostitute, brought the soldiers growling to their feet.”
- Kel’s fort is attacked several times. “Three raiders still galloped toward the eastern wall. One of them went down, an arrow in his throat. . . . Numair’s spell had done its work: flames rose from the ground at the enemy’s rear. There was no sign of either shaman in that large blaze. He’d burned them out of existence.”
- Killing devices attack the fort. “A man went down, gutted by a dagger-hand. A soldier flew off the walkway to the ground twenty feet below . . . One refugee wasn’t quick enough; the device cut him lengthwise from behind as he turned to flee.”
- When her men don’t want to bury the dead after a battle, she says, “Then, sir, you shall plow the section where the bodies are, two days hence . . . The feel of a plow as it hits rotting flesh and bone must be . . . interesting.”
- Two men fight over a woman. “Two young men, both larger than Kel, punched, kicked, and rolled on the ground, trying to rip one another apart.”
- Kel goes to Haven after reports of a battle. She finds, “a few dead sword- or axe-cut animals . . . All had bloody muzzles and, in the case of the cats, bloody claws . . . [there] was a maroon-and-brown pile. There Oluf’s cold, dead face, his eyes wide, seemed to stare right at her. He lay on a stack of dead men, all in army maroon.”
- Kel finds several dead bodies as she tracks a group of kidnapped refugees. “Though animals had fed on the dead woman, the Stormwings hadn’t touched her. The earth had protected her face. Gently Kel brushed the mud away. Through the dirt, bloat, and darkening of dead flesh, Kel recognized Hildurra.” Later, “A woman lay crumpled at the roadside. Kel thought her skirts were dull maroon until she saw that they were stained with blood.”
- At a castle, “corpses hung from the walls in iron cages. Some of the bodies were beginning to fall apart. At least two looked fairly recent.”
- Kel and her troops storm a castle. The fight takes place over a chapter. “The door opened and a man stuck his head out. Kel cut him down. Another man stumbled across his body to die at Connac’s hand. Inside, Kel heard men hammering at the blocked doors and shutters. Here came another soldier, half armed over a nightshirt. Kel rammed her glaive into his unprotected side while Connac chopped at the man’s neck.”
- When Stenmun attacks her, Kel “hooked her leg around one of his, and jerked, a leg sweep from her studies in hand-to-hand-combat . . . He went down on his back . . . Kel didn’t wait for an invitation. She brought the iron-shod butt of the glaive down with all her strength, striking him right between the eyes, breaking through his skull. That probably finished him, but to be sure, she cut his throat.”
- Kel finds Blayce. “She caught Blayce at the knees, cutting the muscles behind them. He dropped, turning visible to her unaided eyes, his control over his invisibility spell gone. Kel seized her glaive two-handed and yanked the blade toward her, neatly beheading the Gallan.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Tobe thinks Kel was drunk when she bought him. “I don’t care if you was drunk or mad or takin’ poppy or rainbow dream or laugh powder, you bought my bond and signed your name and paid money for me and you can’t return me.”
- When offered wine or cider, Kel chooses cider. She thinks about how, “recently she had found that wine or liquor gave her ferocious, nauseous headaches. She was happy to give up spirits; she hadn’t liked the loose, careless feeling they gave her.”
- A woman had been “smuggling poppy” to the children that Blayce chose to kill.
- Phrases such as Goddess bless and By the gods are used frequently as a part of Tortallian culture.
- An angry cook calls a dog, “you thankless rat turd.”
- An innkeeper calls an orphan a “whore’s brat.”
- Kel lives in Tortall, a world filled with monsters and magic. The monsters include griffins, centaurs, and more. Some are good, some are not. Kel even has a basilisk for a teacher.
- Several people at court are mages. They have the Gift, which can be used for light, to heal, and more. For example, “Daine, known as the Wildmage, shared a magical bond with animals . . . For three years her eagles, hawks, owls, pigeons, and geese had carried tidings south while the land slept.”
- Neal puts a spell on an abusive man. Neal says the spell won’t hurt the man, “as long as you don’t hit anyone. When you do, well, you’ll feel the blow as if you struck yourself.”
- A little girl, “is a seer . . . She prophesied that you would come and save us from the Gallan.”
- Tortall has many gods. They are named differently but are similar to the Greek gods. For example, Mithros is the god of the sun, and there is a god of death. The gods are mentioned often in the Tortallian culture but are not an integral part of the plot.
- An evil mage captures the spirits of dead children and uses them to fuel killing machines, metal monsters with knife fingers.
- At one point, Neal asks why the gods don’t stop the killing machines. “All the legends say they loathe necromancy. It interferes with the balance between the mortal realm and that of the dead.”
- When stopping at an old battleground, Kel “added a soft Yamani prayer . . . It seemed to work with most ghosts. She’d never seen any in the Yamani Islands.”