Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yet Another Ode to Tamora Pierce: Keladry of Mindelan

Art by: minuiko

Warning: Spoilers for The Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, and Daughter of the Lioness.

There's something I really love about Keladry of Mindelan.  I feel like whereas Aly might be the most actively disliked heroine, Keladry is the most overlooked.  (What is with me and loving the least loved?)  People just don't seem to connect to Kel in the same way they do with Alanna and Daine.  Kel's certainly less flashy than the other Tortall heroines.  The other heroines all seem to be born to what they do.  Daine is a wild mage because she's basically a demigod, Aly is also a product of her heritage (although I think she is the most tenuous in my argument that the non-Kel heroines are born to what they do), and I'd argue that Alanna's involvement with the Goddess is so deeply ingrained that her path has almost entirely been shaped by the Goddess.  (Not that I'm saying that they don't work their butts off to get where they are. It's more of a destiny sort of thing that guides them so that there really isn't anything else they could have been.) Kel on the other hand, is very, very normal.  And that's kind of the point.  She's the only non-magical heroine we have (disclaimer: I haven't actually read the Bekka Cooper books yet, so all of these claims are excluding her since I can't say anything on that matter), so she doesn't have the raw power or specialties that the other three do.  Yes, she does eventually become a God's project, sort of, but it happens only in the last book.  Whereas it feels like Alanna was always chosen by her goddess, and Daine and Aly were born into their involvement with gods, it feels more like Kel's god chose her because of who she has come to be, not because she particularly was who he was waiting for. She was simply the best tool for the job at the time.

Art by: Renigada 

I know some people might have felt less involved with Kel's story because there's no big one true love situation.  There's definitely some romance, but there's no one in particular that she ends up with definitely. I actually think this might be one of the reasons I love this quartet so much.  It felt a lot more like what I was like growing up: I was definitely interested in a more than a few boys, but I was never interested in taking it very far.  Basically, like Alanna there are a lot of love interests - but unlike Alanna, there's not lots of sexy time.  And I think it's important that both of these things are put into stories. Both that it is ok to have sexy times if you want them, as long as it is your decision, and that if you aren't ready, then you don't need to do that either.  Both of these situations are good, no one option is better than the other.  And I think it's great that you see heroines who really only have significant interest in one guy (Daine, Ali) or that there's serious interest in lots of guys, but the heroine gets her one guy (Alanna), or that there's interest in lots of guys, but the heroine isn't ready to settle down to have her one guy yet, so she doesn't end up with anyone (Kel). And she's happy like that.

So I just finished Protector of the Small, and Kel has swiftly become one of my favorites
still playing with design, but my most prominent headcanon is that she has killer biceps
Art by: tameraali

Kel also doesn't have Alanna's temper, Daine's emotionally charged background, or Ali's quick wit, so I suppose even her personality and background doesn't stand out quite the same way theirs does.  And again, I don't think this is a bad thing.  A lot of things about Daine's character are really, really good - she's patient and mild-tempered (at least outwardly - she definitely fights to portray the calm people think she has) - but they are seen as sort of boring traits.  The same with her background - she's from a diplomats family, and her family seems to deeply love her. She didn't hide who she was half her life (Alanna), have her family murdered (Daine), and Ali kind of makes up from having such a privileged background by being so snarky and witty (my opinion haha).  Kel's personality just seems so much quieter than the others, and is more of a team player (even as she ends up being a leader) and I think who she is as a core is just so unappreciated a lot of the time.  In fact, while browsing for awesome Kel fanart, I came across minuiko who is a hard core Kel fangirl, and man you should read what she wrote on why she loves Kel so much.  I mean she just really nails down everything I'm trying to say here.  And on that note, I'm going to leave you with one of my favourite paintings of hers (I think it's because Kel is such a giant and Daine's hair is like....flawless).

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