by Gerald Morris, published 2005
“To have arrived for an indefinite stay in this luxurious castle, where she would wear the finest clothes and most of all get to know a real enchantress, was more than Luneta could ever have hoped for.”
Here’s an unusual story from Morris’s wonderful collection of Squire Tale’s. The heroine is the focus of this epic, and love is examined from all points of view, in the midst of the usual battles by knights to fight for the right and slay dragons. The story felt contrived and difficult to understand until it all fell in place at the end. But what made this particular children’s book worth reading was discovering that in fact, it is Morris’s retelling of a well-known romance from the 1170’s called Yvain, the Knight of the Lion by Chrétien de Troyes. If I had known that from the start, I probably would have been more patient with the convoluted twists of the story. Looking at the original French romance, I realized how readable Morris managed to make this tale. The original is completely unapproachable.
However, despite the complexity of the story line, overall, any older girl or boy, at least 12, would be able to follow this easily. It’s not more complex than a Harry Potter tale, for example. The depiction of women in this tale is at times unnerving. There are some points of view about women that make you wonder what’s going on. However, in the end, it becomes quite clear that it is a book that mocks the extremes of self-centeredness and vanity, while admiring the ability of women to stand up for themselves and think for themselves. And it is done with great humor and clever use of words.
As far as the adventure, the adventure in this children’s book ranks with all the other Knightly adventures, and will appeal to any one who likes to see the questing for justice advanced. Is this my favorite of Morris’s books? No, I’d put it towards the bottom. But I wouldn’t discard, especially since few of his children’s books put the girls front and center. Anyway, it’s definitely a well-worked version of an 1170’s classic that would otherwise disappear into oblivion.
Paperback available on Amazon:
The Lioness and Her Knight (The Squire’s Tales)