The Squire's Tale book review

I'm always on the look out for a good book to read to my kids. However I am a highly sensitive person when it comes to stories.  I can't separate fiction from real life and I tend to put myself in the shoes of the characters. It causes me to revisit stories, movies and books multiple times in my day to day life and I tend to dream about the tragedy's.  Pretty crazy, I know!  Anyway, here is my most recent read, that began as a read aloud to my kids and ended with just me finishing it alone.

The Squire's Tale

 Cover image for The squire's tale

Author: Gerald Morris
Genre: Historical Fiction

Gruesome is how I would describe this Arthurian tale. (If you didn't know these are stories from the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.)

This easy read is probably at a 5th grade reading level. It begins with a orphaned boy who lives with a kind hermit and finds that he has some gift that allows him to see fairies. The tale clearly shows that it is different than the fairies of the modern age, which became more clear when I read the author's note in the back of the book. These tales have been told by generations of storytellers regarding King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The author explains that these have been around since the late 1400's. It is soon clear that the stories of knights are gruesome. Terence, the young boy, becomes the squire of a man who aspires to be a knight of King Arthur. After a small journey, the newly knighted Gawain and his squire Terence are quickly sent on a quest by the King that brings in the mysteries of Terence. Slowly the reader discovers where Terence is from, and why he has enchanted dreams and enchanted experiences. There is a shocking bit of violence as Gawain encounters another knight who in the midst of his fight uses his wife as his shield. She is thrown to the side by Gawain, but returns to aid her husband.  In the struggle Gawain accidentally chops off her head.  In another separate event, a woman begs that a villain knight be killed as he has killed her brother. Because of her bloodthirsty nature, the head of her villain is given to her and she is required to have his head tied to her body on her return journey to King Arthur. 
These are the most gruesome stories in the book, but are a bit more than I would want my 5th grader to read. 
The redeeming quality of the book is that it has a strong thread of moral choices as Gawain is a man who chooses to make his quest to rescue ladies in distress and to aid the weak. He is a commendable character and a strong leader for boys who read this.  They will see strength, integrity, compassion and determination of a male character. 
If you don't mind the chopping off of a couple of heads and you are fascinated with the stories of King Arthur you'd probably enjoy this book. It has some mystery laced in the story as you learn the heritage of Terence and Gawain, this keeps the reader curious to finish the book and discover along with Terence why he sees things so one else sees.


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