First of all, I'd like to submit that Tamora Pierce is almost solely responsible for my current love of collecting series, rather than individual books.
Second, I should pin a reminder to myself on the wall that I have never read a Tamora Pierce book that I didn't enjoy.
Tamora Pierce has written several series, usually in sets of four, such as the Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, and The Circle of Magic. These are all quartets, and they're all very, very good.
This week's review is on the Protector of the Small quartet, and in some ways, I feel like these books were a bit of a disappointment. I still enjoyed them immensely, but... at the same time, there's a point at which I can reasonably say "this section of this book has not enamored me." The fact that I didn't like that specific element or emphasis doesn't reduce my overall enjoyment, as I like the characters and the plots of all four books. I just think that some parts might have been done a little better.
I think that, overall, I'm going to give this series 4 starts out of 5, and I have a couple different reasons for that.
First, the introductory chapters of the first three books used some heavy-handed persecution to emphasize that the main character has to face sexism and bullying as she becomes a knight. That's legitimate, and I wouldn't want those elements removed, but at the same time, I really don't think it needed such relentless emphasis as it received. It was unpleasant to read at times, or worse - boring. I wanted to get to the interesting parts where she was learning and growing and changing, and the insistent focus on the characters that refused to change put me off a little.
Second, I feel there's a focus on romance that feels uncharacteristic for the main character. It fit with Alana in the Song of the Lioness, and with Daine in The Immortals. I can understand that sometimes the interest in romance is sometimes not in sync with the rest of a person's personality, but given Kel's young age and complete lack of interest, the "suddenly having a crush" and "suddenly kissing" felt unnatural.
That said, those elements are not as negative as I paint them here, and only lost the series a single star in my opinion. It was still extremely enjoyable and I loved reading them.
If you like books like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, I think this series is up your alley, with a young main character trying to prove herself and learn more about how to be the person she wants to be.