For my twin post today with Rachel from Undivinelight, we’re looking at protagonists we love. Let me say, first, that this was a tough one for me. There are so many characters that I love for any number of reasons. I love Harry Potter. I love Katniss Everdeen. I love Artemis Fowl and Jackie Faber and so many others that I don’t think I could ever name them all, let alone try to rank them. But my greatest literary love has to be Keladry of Mindelan from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small quartet.

The thing about Kel–and the way that Pierce writes her–is this: she has to make hard choices. Several times throughout the books, the thing that Kel wants most (to win her shield; to be respected; to help in the fighting; to protect the people she cares about) is placed diametrically opposed to her morals and her sense of duty. To get one, she has to go against the other.

And, to Pierce’s credit, Kel honestly struggles with her decisions. For example, when her maid is kidnapped, Kel knows that it’s her responsibility as a noble to rescue her. But doing so means that she’ll miss her examinations, and that all the years of work she’s put in up to this point will be moot. But Lalasa needs her, so she does what she has to.

What makes this successful to me is that, even though it’s hard–both for Kel and for the reader–to see her push her dream aside, that inner conflict breathes life into the story. It makes Kel nuanced and complex. And it’s that tension, those rock and a hard place decisions, that make me love this series so much.

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One thought on “Characters Done Right: Rock and a Hard Place

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