Character: Keladry of Mindelan
Pairings Included in Manifesto: ALL THE PAIRINGS. SO MANY PAIRINGS. To wit: Kel/Domitan of Masbolle, Kel/Nealan of Queenscove, Kel/Wyldon of Cavall, Kel/Zahir ibn Alhaz, Kel/Evin Larse, Kel/Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak, Kel/Cleon of Kennan, Kel/Faleron of King's Reach, Kel/Merric of Hollyrose, Kel/Seaver of Tasride, Kel/Thom of Pirate's Swoop, and Kel/Numair Salmalin
Blurb: Tamora Pierce has a well-deserved reputation for writing kick-ass heroines, but of all the wonderfully strong female characters she's written, Keladry of Mindelan is my absolute favorite, probably because she manages to accomplish so much despite being--compared to Pierce's other heroines--so...well, ordinary. She doesn't have a magical Gift, or the Hand of the Goddess on her, or a semi-divine heritage, she's just Kel, the first girl in Tortall to try for her knighthood openly as a female. And she succeeds, despite bullying, awful pranks, and numerous other conspiracies to drive her out of training, by quietly putting her head down and working harder than any other page in her year.
Besides her work ethic and dogged determination, Kel has so many other qualities to recommend her. The best way I can describe her is principled. She's loyal and compassionate, with an unshakeable sense of justice. She's fair. She truly believes in the ideals of chivalry and protecting those weaker than yourself. She's kind even to those who aren't kind to her. She's level-headed, wonderfully matter-of-fact and practical, and so grounded in who she is. She is the epitome of the aphorism: "Still waters run deep." It might seem like there's nothing in the world that can upset her equanimity, but she does feel deeply. The difference is, instead of losing her temper, she takes that emotion and lets it drive her even more determinedly towards her goal.
Of course, Kel's not perfect. She does lose her temper from time to time. She can feel petty and jealous, can get smug or complacent in her abilities, but she's not so proud that she can't recognize when she's being a swot and she learns from her mistakes. Another thing I love about Kel is that even as she learns and is enriched by the people she comes across, she also makes the people around her better. It's from her example that her friends join her in putting a stop to the bullying of younger pages by older pages. She teaches her maid, Lalasa, self-defense techniques, which inspires the girl to teach other palace servants and city girls to defend themselves. Kel inspires incredibly loyalty from her friends precisely because they know that she would do (and has done) no less for them.
I don't really do OTPs. I might have a fondness for some pairings (as you'll notice), but in general, I don't believe in holding ships sacred. I do, however, have One True Characters and Kel is my OTC of OTCs. Kel is a little unique in that she doesn't really have a fixed love interest in the books, which suits my multi-shipping heart just fine. I pair her with anyone and everyone because she is just that fabulous and deserves a harem. :P To that end, I've included many, many pairings in this manifesto. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone to enjoy!
Fic Rec #1: Fallen
Pairing: Kel/Domitan of Masbolle
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T. Warnings for references to rape (non-graphic) and violence
Why This Must Be Read: In the books, Kel has a long-standing crush on Dom. Nothing ever comes of it, but since her affection for him is fairly steady, it's not surprising that this pairing is so popular in fandom. (I myself confess a certain fondness for it). This is epic fic. It's another "what if Kel got kicked out of page training?" scenario but so unique in its scope. This story takes us into the heart of Scanra, and we learn a little bit more about the enemy that Pierce didn't have the room to write about, the people of the country, and a fragile but significant rebellion being led against the Scanran warlord, Maggur Rathausak. The story evolves in parallel to the events of the book, and it is fascinating to see how the author ties in different bits of canon. Still a WIP at 75 chapters and counting, and the author is updating slowly but surely. Highly recommended.
Fic Rec #2 Unsaid Promises
Author: Jezebel Montgomery
Why This Must Be Read: This is actually a prequel to Flirting with Consequence. Kel has been grievously injured on the frontlines of battle and Dom is tasked with escorting her back to the palace at Corus where she can receive better medical attention. It's typical hurt/comfort but wonderfully and evocatively written. Both Kel and Dom are deftly characterized and I appreciated the quiet comfort of their relationship.
Fic Rec #3: Several Days of Aggravating Occurrences
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T. Warnings for ~suggestive themes~ and implied sex
Why This Must Be Read: This is one of the first Kel/Dom stories I read back in the day. It's kind of crack-ish, but so wacky and fun with laugh-out-loud banter between all the characters featured. Neal in particular steals every scene he's in. There are 2 sequels which are just as fun: Several Years After Several Days and Never Trust a Pretty Boy
Fic Rec #4: Allergies
Why This Must Be Read: Adorable and hilarious one-shot. Tobe notices that his mistress has a peculiar reaction when she's around Dom. Clearly, Something Needs To Be Done and Dom is the man for it. Tobe is wonderfully naive and innocent and Neal, once again, steals the scene. So much fun.
Fic Rec #5: What Comes Around
Pairing: Kel/Nealan of Queenscove
Author: Esther Channah
Rating/Warning(s): PG/K+ Warnings for offscreen character death
Why This Must Be Read: In general, I enjoy Kel and Neal as bros/heterosexual lifemates, but if Pierce had decided to make them endgame, I wouldn't have complained. Of course, with Neal there's the Yuki problem. In this future-fic, Yuki has passed away some years ago and now her daughter is trying for her knighthood. Kel, still unattached after all these years, finds that her old feelings for Neal have resurfaced and they cautiously agree to explore the potential between them. It's a realistic and canon-compliant look at how an older and wiser Neal and Kel might come together. WIP at 9 chapters and counting.
Fic Rec #6: Swimming Hole
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T Er...warnings for almost-nudity?
Why This Must Be Read: Canonically, there's a watering hole near the palace training grounds that pages often swam in during the summer. During the summer before their last year as pages, Neal takes advantage of a mostly deserted Corus to allow Kel to indulge in the tradition. It's a sweet, breezy read, with a nicely restrained frisson of UST. Kel and Neal are perfectly themselves here.
Fic Rec #7: Life
Pairing: Kel/Wyldon of Cavall, unrequited Kel/Dom
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T. Warnings for off-screen character death. If (former) student/teacher pairings squick you, this might not be the fic for you.
Why This Must Be Read: Kel and Wyldon are my favorite dynamic in the books. Even though he does his best to subtly drive her away at first, Kel never loses her respect for him and always thinks the best of him. Watching their relationship evolve from an antagonistic one to one of respect and admiration was lovely. I don't personally ship them, but honestly, I can see why some people would. This is a gorgeously told story of Kel and Wyldon's relationship throughout the years, and how it evolves into one of deep friendship and eventually, love.
Fic Rec #8: 50 Themes on Kel and Zahir
Pairing: Kel/Zahir ibn Alhaz
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T. Warnings for ~suggestive themes~ and
Why This Must Be Read: This is one of those "I'm not even sure they like each other but why the hell not?" pairings. Just trying to keep things interesting. :P The themes range from a sentence to the length of a ficlet. Exquisitely drawn prose. You can practically feel Kel and Zahir breathing through the words.
Fic Rec #9: Reserve and Extravagance
Pairing: Kel/Evin Larse, unrequited Miri/Evin
Author: Rainstorm Amaya Arianrhod
Why This Must Be Read: Another 50 themes for another unusual pairing--the author sticks to 1-3 sentences at most for each theme. I am always in awe of authors who can sketch complete stories using this format.
Fic Rec #10: Patchwork
Pairing: Kel/Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T. Warnings for implied sex. Again, if you don't like (former) teacher/student pairings, I'd stay away
Why This Must Be Read: Kel and Raoul have such an easy, mutually respectful, and egalitarian relationship in the books. They so clearly adore each other. Whether it's platonic, pseudo-familial, or romantic, I love reading about their dynamic. This series of (mostly) unconnected drabbles examines all forms of their relationship and makes you believe each one.
Fic Rec #11: Feel Better
Pairing: Kel/Cleon of Kennan
Why This Must Be Read: Some people in the fandom take Cleon in aversion, which I don't really understand. Maybe they weren't right for each other in the longterm, but I thought they were sweet while they were together and Cleon gets kudos for being the first person to recognize that Kel is FABULOUS and should be adored. This is a sweet little vignette between Kel and Cleon, with Cleon kissing away Kel's hurts after a jousting tournament. I love the role-reversal here.
Fic Rec #12 For Luck
Pairing: Kel/Faleron of King's Reach
Author: Rockstar with a Vendetta
Why This Must Be Read: I adore Faleron and I couldn't even tell you why. It's not like the boy gets a lot of screentime but for whatever reason, he draws me. This fic is so. much. fun. I love so many things about it: the banter between Kel and her friends, the fact that Faleron sucks at jousting, and Raoul's "mean talks" to Kel's suitors. Highly recommended.
Fic Rec #13: When Faleron Kissed Kel
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T? To be safe, one instance of naughty language
Why This Must Be Read: This is screamingly funny. Neal gives terrible advice, Faleron takes it, and regrets it so hard. The banter is so much fun, Neal is amazing, and Kel is perfectly brisk and so not down with these shenanigans. Also, Faleron's hair is fantastic. :P
Fic Rec #14: Lose Yourself
Author: Rockstar with a Vendetta
Pairing: Kel/Merric of Hollyrose
Rating/Warning(s): Hard R/M. Warnings for sex (non-graphic)
Why This Must Be Read: From the beginning, Kel and Merric have had an interesting dynamic. There's always been a bit of tension where it seems like he could resent her or challenge her, but at the same time, he's so clearly devoted to her. This is a sweet, sexy vignette, very much worth reading.
Fic Rec #15: We Live in Awkward Times, My Friend
Pairing: Kel/Merric, Kel/Seaver of Tasride, Kel/Thom of Pirate's Swoop, Kel/Numair Salmalin(+Daine Sarrasri, b/c Numair and Daine are a package deal :P)
Author: Rockstar with a Vendetta
Rating/Warning(s): PG-13/T. Warnings for implied sexytiems
Why This Must Be Read: I've rec'd a few fics by this author already but this might be my favorite of hers. It's a series of unconnected ficlets wherein Kel's friends discover that she has been, ahem, intimate with someone, and try to figure out who it is, to everyone's mortification. So. Much. Fun. So much crack. So many lulz to be had. I love the running gag of Esmond RUINING EVERYTHING by unknowingly making things even more awkward. This series is a multi-shipper's dream. Sorta WIP, updated when the Spirit moves her, keep an eye on it.
I'm sorry, mods. I need SO MANY TAGS because we don't have any for this fandom.