(Cover picture courtesy of Booktopia.)
“Either leave this island, or prepare now to do battle.”
“Then I must do battle,” Gawain said.
Squire Terence and Sir Gawain are on another quest, but this time their journey is overshadowed by their ultimate destination—a contest between Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that could easily lead to Gawain’s death.
As they weave their way between the world of men and the Other World, both Gawain and Terence discover much about themselves. Terence learns more about his past and what the future holds for him, and Gawain is forced to confront the true nature of courage and honor.
Next to the legend of Tristan and Isolde, the tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has always been one of my favourite Arthurian legends. So you could say I’m a bit biased in this review because this is exactly the legend Gerald Morris retells in The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady. And what a fitting tribute to such a great legend!
It’s been five years since the first book, which places Terence from age 18-20 and Gawain in his mid twenties. And unlike a lot of young adult books that are focusing on adults, the adults don’t act like children/young adults. They act their age! The Squire’s Tale mainly focused on Gawain instead of Terence (even though it was in his POV), but Book 2 most definitely focuses on Terence. In the first book Gawain was clearly the hero, but in this book Terence really gets his chance to shine. Rescuing Gawain, traveling to the Other World and falling in love…Terence really experiences some great character growth.
Gerald Morris mentions in his Author’s Note that he has drawn heavily on Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, especially in King Arthur’s battle against the Roman Emperor. All of the Arthurian legends I’ve read take place long after the fall of the Roman Empire, but I also don’t see why they can’t take place during the fall, when Rome was losing its grip on its empire. Gerald Morris was brave when he did that and it worked out very well. It also gives the perfect introduction to that central character in every Arthurian legend: Lancelot.
If you’re a hardcore fan of Lancelot or Guinevere, I would advise you not to read this series. Gerald Morris does not exactly paint the two ‘lovers’ in the most flattering light. But at least he justifies it with his writing and King Arthur is given depth when he realizes that his wife does not love him and never will. One of the most touching passages in the entire novel is this one, when Arthur is speaking with Gawain about Guinevere:
“Am I a fool to love her, Gawain?”
“If so, it is a divine foolishness,” Gawain said. (Pg 33)
Ah, the pangs of unrequited love!
I give this book 5/5 stars.
(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.