When I was a preteen/teenager, about every other week or so, my mom would load my siblings and I up and take us to the Corona Public Library. We didn't live in Corona, but Corona had the better library, so that's where we'd go. My older sister and I would pour over the Teen/YA section, looking for new books. Not surprisingly, we got especially excited about fantasy books. One fateful afternoon, my sister found a book that would change our literary lives forever. The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris is a King Arthur story - the book that sparked my interest in and love for King Arthur.
In The Squire's Tale, we meet Terence, a 14-year-old boy who lives with a hermit in the middle of the forest. He runs into and joins up with Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur. Gawain is on his way to Camelot to pledge himself to Arthur. His father, King Lot, fought against Arthur when he was first made king, but Gawain still plans to swear allegiance to Arthur. Terence goes with Gawain as his squire, and they then embark on a magical adventure of quests and chivalry.
If you already know a lot about King Arthur, then you're going to recognize most of what happens in the book. Morris took familiar tales and told them with a voice that draws readers in and makes you part of the story.
I'd keep it to young teens and up. There is fighting (as is to be expected of any King Arthur tale), but it's not gory. There is some mild swearing (biblical words...). Other books in the series deal with some more "adult" themes, but this one doesn't. Overall, The Squire's Tale is an enchanting adventure written with captivating prose. I recommend it heartily.
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady is the second book in series, and it is also my favorite book in the series. If I do end up reviewing the rest of the books in the series, it won't be for a long time. I don't think most of them are worth reading. They're not nearly as good as the first two. The third and fourth are pretty good, but they still fail to meet the magnificence that is their predecessors.
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady begins several years after The Squire's Tale ended. Terence is no longer a green squire, and Gawain is a well-respected knight. In this book, Lancelot comes on the scene, and you hate him. Which is only right, I think. The famous Green Knight also joins the story, for those of you familiar with Arthurian lore. Gawain gets a hard lesson in honor, and Terence learns more of his family. Terence and Gawain are also joined by a female - Lady Eileen. As much as I love Terence and Gawain, Eileen makes this book. She's fantastic and hilarious. The blurb on Amazon for his book calls her "plucky," which doesn't do her justice. She's more than plucky; she's strong.
I love the adventure in this book. It takes our heroes out of their comfort zones and shows who they really are. This book has much more romance than the first book did, but it's still more of an adventure book than a romance.
I would venture to say that this book would be a little much for anyone younger than a preteen. It's pretty solemn in some parts, and it has a tiny bit of graphic violence (SPOILER - for those of you who don't know the general story of Gawain and the Green Giant, Gawain has to chop off his head, and hanging over him throughout the book is the expectation that he will die of a similar fate.)
I could really go on and on about this book, but I'd rather that you read it than what I have to say. This is my favorite King Arthur book. It is magical and enchanting. It pull you in and makes you care about what happens to the characters. Morris uses such wit, and I laugh through most of the book. If you have any interest in King Arthur, read this book.