Since Christmas day, I’ve been re-reading Tamora Pierce’s young-adult fantasy series, Protector of the Small. The story, which takes place in a fantasy kingdom, describes the adventures of a young girl, Keladry, going through knight training, from page to squire to ordeal to knighthood to first quest, against the opposition of many people who do not believe women should become knights.
(Side note: The series has a new cover design, which I don’t like quite as much as the old.)
I have read the entire series of 4 books several times, always with great pleasure even though now I always know how things will turn out. They are in my collection of courage resources, things that help me take heart and take big steps.
When I read them, I am reminded that:
- Excellence comes from effort on effort, conditioning, persistence, and a big heart.
- Reality includes people who are bullies. They are never easy to deal with.
- Fairness is not guaranteed to anyone.
- Many important things in life have nothing to do with entitlement.
- Generosity of spirit brings new challenges in the short term. Sometimes it must be its own reward; other times it pays back unexpectedly.
Last spring, I wrote about Albert Bandura and the power of stories. He talks about stories as a much-needed social diffusion mechanism to achieve widespread adoption of what we learn in positive psychology. Bandura working with Miguel Sabido creates serial TV and radio dramas, powerful stories with three types of characters: “Positive role models whose behavior results in good things, negative role models whose behavior has adverse effects, and transitional models who start out negatively but turn into positive role models by the end.”
I think good stories create a yearning for virtue along with a sense that it’s possible. I hold Keladry in my head as a exemplar of endurance, self-control, and effort, as well as of generosity, imagination, and honor.