|A Novel of Tortall|
|Protagonist||Keladry of Mindelan|
|Cover Artist||Joyce Patti|
|UK Release Date|
|Series||Protector of the Small|
|Followed by||Lady Knight|
Squire is the third installment of the Protector of the Small quartet by Tamora Pierce, high fantasy novels for young adults set in the Tortallan Universe. The book is about Keladry of Mindelan as she becomes a squire and what she has to accomplish in the four years leading up to her Ordeal of Knighthood. It's set in the realm of Tortall and provides readers a more in-depth glimpse into problems and issues with the realm as Kel discovers them.
- "To Ms. Gloria Barbizan and Ms. Dorothy Olding—
strong businesswomen before women's liberation"
- —Dedication of Squire
"My lord only took you because he felt sorry for you."
When Keladry of Mindelan is chosen by the legendary Lord Raoul to be his squire, the conservatives of the realm hardly think she's up to the job. But Kel quickly proves her mettle as a jouster, warrior, and guardian of a fiery griffin, earning respect and admiration among the men, not to mention the affection of a fellow squire. As she deals with the challenges of a new romance and a life in the royal guard, Kel also prepares for the infamous "Ordeal", the last challenge that stand between her and her dream of knighthood...
—Back cover summary
The first hardcover edition of Squire was published on May 22nd, 2001, by Random House Children's Books; again August 1st of the same year by Perfection Learning; and lastly August 22nd by Turtleback Books. The hardcover large print edition was published December 3rd, 2005 by Thorndike Press. The first paperback edition was released August 27th, 2002 by Random House.
Kel has officially past the big exam into squiredom, but she is plagued with the knowledge that she might not ever serve the type of knight she wants to, and instead be relegated to a desk knight who will never teach her what she wants to know. Her own worries and constant trips to the Chamber of the Ordeal fill her head with this notion.
Just when she is about to lose hope, Raoul of Goldenlake offers to be her knight-master. This is awesome for Kel—even though she secretly wishes Alanna the Lioness would take her—as Raoul is one of the most respected knights in the realm. Her best friend Nealan of Queenscove is taken as a squire by Alanna, and although she is at first jealous and saddened about it, she settles into her life as Lord Raoul's squire. As she faces danger and problems, bandits at Haresfield, a new griffin to look after; she realizes that she would not give up Lord Raoul for Lady Alanna at all and she makes friends among the King's Own and Third Company.
Kel begins a romantic relationship with Cleon of Kennan, another squire who serves Kel's older brother Inness of Mindelan. She is resigned and angered to learn that Joren of Stone Mountain, one of her old enemies, was the culprit behind kidnapping Lalasa Isran on the day of her big exams. She is even more angered to see that Joren was only given a fine and she petitions the king and queen to change the law.
Kel also tries jousting. First, when she challenges Ansil of Groten to a jousting match after he insults Raoul and Lerant of Eldorne. She wins the match. She also jousts against Wyldon of Cavall, and is the first person in a long time to not be unseated by him. He also has completely warmed to her at this point and realizes that she is better than many of the boys he taught as training master.
She rekindles her friendship with the Yamani ladies, Shinkokami and Yukimi noh Daiomoru, and practices the naginata with them. A Royal Progress to celebrate the union between Prince Roald and Princess Shinkokami begins, and Third Company joins them—much to Raoul's chagrin.
In her second Midwinter as a squire, plenty of friends and a few enemies are set for their Ordeal of Knighthood. Cleon, Roald, and Garvey of Runnerspring (the latter of whom is an enemy) pass; Vinson of Genlith and Joren of Stone Mountain do not, as Vinson talks during his Ordeal, and Joren dies. Wyldon resigns as training master and takes Owen of Jesslaw as squire as per Kel's wishes.
Fighting heats up at the Scanran border as Maggur Rathhausak sends killing devices to Tortall. Kel bests one with another squad. She returns to Corus for her Ordeal of Knighthood and passes, becoming a lady knight.
- Keladry of Mindelan is the protagonist of the Protector of the Small quartet. She is now a squire and must undergo challenges she has never faced before. She learns a lot from Lord Raoul; command, logistics and supply, diplomacy, etc. and excels at her work as his squire. She also becomes quite good at jousting, and bests full knights and does well with some of the best knights in Tortall.
- Raoul of Goldenlake is one of the most respected knights of the realm. He wanted Kel for his squire since her performance in a spidren hunt while she was still a probationary page, but Alanna did ask him (or remind him) to offer for Kel. He is the best knight-master she could've dreamed of; kind, patient, willing to talk things through. He takes quite a bit in stride and knows how to explain things in a way that is understandable.
- Cleon of Kennan has had a crush on Kel for a while, but only now does he tell her. They begin a romantic relationship, but a few other things are at play that keep him from taking things a step further...like the financial problems at Kennan, for example.
- Shinkokami is a second-rank princess of the Yamani Islands, and proof that the emperor wants the marital alliance to succeed. Shinko and Kel have known each other since they were children, and now they can rekindle that old friendship. They continue the naginata together, and talk politics and strategy. Kel orchestrates a plot to get Shinko and Roald to start talking—by having them come together in their mutual interest of battle strategy and tactics.
- Joren of Stone Mountain is Kel's underhanded enemy. A member of one of the wealthiest and conservative families in Tortall, Joren would like nothing more than to force Kel to stop trying for her shield. In the last installment, he paid two men to kidnap Lalasa Isran, threaten her, and keep Kel from attending her big exams. When this is revealed, he still does not believe what he did was wrong. Joren is killed by the Chamber of the Ordeal during his Ordeal of Knighthood, because the Chamber could not get him to bend, even a little bit. Burchard of Stone Mountain, his father, believes that Kel bewitched him and the Chamber.
- Peachblossom is Kel's contrary strawberry roan gelding and stays with her when she enters the King's Own as Raoul's squire.
For more information about characters in the book, see list of characters.