Laurel Leaf Publishing
The amazon.com product description:
At the age of 14 and standing five foot ten, Keladry of Mindelan is a squire. A squire serves and learns from a seasoned knight for four years, then faces a final test. That final test is the Ordeal, which takes place in a magical room called the Chamber. There, a squire encounters the parts of him- or herself that the Chamber deems the most difficult to face–be they fears, failings, or unrepented wicked deeds. Does Kel have what it takes to survive the Ordeal?
Squire is the third book in the Protector of the Small Quartet, and the sequel to Page. As with the previous books in the series, the book follows Kel through her training on her way to becoming a Knight. Now, she's made it to being a squire, but will she be chosen to serve a Knight?
It's somewhat amusing, the trend in this series: each of the books gets longer, which I think is a good thing. Of course, as Kel gets older, she's out doing more, so there's more to tell, resulting in a story that should be attractive to girls from about the age of nine through their early teens. On the other hand, I still am not overly enamored of the way the books are shaped around the message of "Girls can do anything just as well as boys". Not that it's not a message that needs to be heard, it's just that I feel like it overwhelms the story in this particular series. That might be as much because I'm outside of the target audience by a large amoun though.
This series is geared towards girls ages about ten and up, although the books are found in the Teen section of my local bookstore. Still, it's also a story that anyone can enjoy be they children or adults. I have to admit, the animals make the story as much as the people do. If that confuses you, you need to read the Immortals Quartet about Daine, which is set between the Lioness books and the Protector of the Small Quartet. Still, Jump is hillarious, the sparrows need to be seen to be believed, and Peachblossom, Kel's horse fits right in with the rest of her crazy group.
You wouldn't think that the animals are believable, but within the context of the story, they work. All of it works and fits, be it the foreign cultures overlayed on the world or the magic. It all works within rules that make it real and working within the world Tamora Pierce has created.