By Gerald Morris
The Savage Damsel and The Dwarf (2000)
The Princess, The Crone, and the Dung-Cart Knight (2004)
The Quest of the Fair Unknown (2007)
The Squire’s Quest (2009)
The Legend of the King (2010)
“Knight, holy man, family, poet–it is all that any land could want. If the knight will be honorable, the holy man true, the family loving..And if the poet will sing. After all, someone needs to tell the story of Arthur.”
As you can see by the list of children’s books, I went on a “Knights of the Round Table” binge, reading all the remaining stories of the Squire’s Tales that I had not yet read. I had already reviewed several of these fabulous children’s books last year: The Squire’s Tale; Parsifal’s Page; The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady, and The Lioness and Her Knight. With these last 5, I am just missing one more, but it’s time to write about them.
The main reason for putting all the children’s books of this series together in one review is that the style is pretty consistent and wonderful. Morris has done his homework on the original sources for the Arthurian tales, and has woven in original classic material with his own marvelous inventions, adding humor and up-to-date references. The mixture is pretty much the same from one book to the other, but that in no way diminishes the value. It’s sort of like chocolate…if it’s good chocolate, why not have another piece?
Reading these children’s books is somewhat like candy for the heart, mind, and soul. Each of the books has one or more valuable lessons, as one would expect from knights. They each have their fair share of drama, and battles. They each have humor, and they all have a mix of some familiar characters and some new ones. After a while, it is actually pretty hard to remember which book is which…nothing stands out that much. Nevertheless, they are really fun to read. If I had one small complaint, it would be that the Squire’s Quest was a little difficult to follow because of the multiple currents of of English history and Eastern (Constantinople) history. The geography was hard, but the story was great. The last story, depicting the fall of King Arthur, is sad, but offers great hope.
The books are perfect for ages 9 to 14 though some of the material may be a tiny bit difficult for the younger side of this age range. Giving a gift of the entire series would be a splendid idea but I haven’t yet seen it packaged that way.
If you’d like an easy to access synopsis of each of the books in this series, check out the Children’s Literature Network page here.