I’ll say that I didn’t like Squire quite as much, even though my issues with it were largely mitigated by the opportunity to be around Raoul of Goldenlake.
Similar to the Circle Opens series of books that followed the Circle of Magic books, Squire has us moving away from school and the rhythms of usual life. I suppose that’s why I would be a terrible Knight (although I’d squire the shit out of Sir Myles of Olau). Kel wants to go out and make a difference, so there’s no stopping her. But when she does, the circle of those people we’ve gotten to know widens out appreciably and creates a bit of slowness just as the plot seems like it’s going to start picking up. And perhaps that’s just the Pierce way! But if the other books are a ramp to the end, this book picks up and stops a few times along the way.
This is also the first we see of Kel’s interest in boyS (well, not the first but it’s certainly emphasized here. Seeing as how frank and slightly embarrassing descriptions of puberty, adolescence, and sex talks is pretty much a Pierce Trademark ™, you didn’t think you were getting away from it here, either, did you? While Kel’s entire family was cast straight out of the Mary Sue Family Catalogue, there’s something delightful about how she and her mother discuss her sex options (i.e. she has them) and then how Sir Raoul tries to do the same (and, thankfully, gets stopped pretty soon) (not that he’s unaware of how things go) ([Go Buri Go Buri Go Climb that Man Tree ]).
And I’m not sure how I feel about that! I think I really enjoy romantic subplots, sometimes even to the detriment of character development (more than one friend has read my fave Spinning Silver and said they liked it except for [the Staryk King/Miryem getting together]). I wanted to read this to get into Kel and Kel only. I’m glad she’s experiencing kissing and enjoying it! I wonder where her characterization will go next 😀