(Cover picture courtesy of Tower.)
“What is your name?” Morgause whispered fiercely, almost desperately. “You are no ordinary magician.”
“I am a squire,” Terence said.
But he is no ordinary squire, either. Abandoned as a baby at the door of Trevisant the Hermit, young Terence never expects he will be more than the hermit’s servant. Until one day when a stranger shows up—Gawain, a young man destined to become of the most famous knights of King Arthur’s Round Table. As Gawain’s squire, Terence journeys with him to Camelot and what begins as an adventure soon turns into nothing less than a quest to uncover the secrets of his past.
I have loved the legend of King Arthur ever since my English teacher introduced it to me in grade 5. Everyone has heard different versions of the same story, but that’s the beauty of the Arthurian legends: they grow and change with time, as they were meant to. In The Squire’s Tale Gerald Morris takes an interesting approach, as he states in his author’s note. He is “trying to restore the reputation of this most honored of all knights on earth.” It’s not Lancelot, but Gawain, The Maiden’s Knight.
It is not Gawain, but Terence, his squire who tells his story. Terence himself is a great character: the son of unknown parents with the ability to see faeries. He doesn’t seem all that remarkable in the beginning, but Terence goes through a wonderful character arc as he embarks with Gawain upon his quests. To me it is Gawain who steals the show because Gerald Morris’ version of him is similar to that of Rosemary Sutcliff’s (an author I have always admired). However, Terence is the one that readers will most likely sympathize with because this book is aimed at younger teens and tweens and he is very much the voice of adolescent uncertainty.
The plot of The Squire’s Tale moves along quite a bit faster than I’m used to in books incorporating the Arthurian legends, but it suits Gerald Morris’ writing style. There are really no places where the plot sags, not even in the beginning when we are introduced to Terence. The characters are quirky and memorable and there’s plenty of humour to offset some of the serious elements. Overall, a fitting retelling of the Arthurian legends, except for the ending. Gerald Morris kind of stuck Morgause in there at the last minute and I felt that the ending scene was rushed, but it does at least make sense. This is one series I will be continuing.
I give this book 4/5 stars.