Monday, October 31, 2011

Sir Gawain the True

I read Gerald Morris's The Squire's Tale a couple of years ago. While I didn't dislike the experience, I wasn't wowed by it either. I have recommended the series to others I thought might enjoy it but I haven't been inclined to continue it myself. When I heard Morris was writing another Arthurian series for younger readers I was interested to see how he would do writing for a younger audience. Sir Gawain the True is the most recent book in The Knights' Tales. I enjoyed quite a lot, far more than I did the book in the older series.

"Now everyone who knows anything at all about knights knows that they used to dress in metal suits and bash each other off their horses with pint sticks called lances. This only makes sense, of course. Anyone who happened to have a metal suit, a horse, and a pointy stick would do the same."

A brilliant way to begin and what I appreciate the most about the storytelling here. The words flow naturally from one to the next and Morris has a way of cleverly explaining elements that might be more unfamiliar to young readers in a way that fits into the narrative without interrupting it and manages to be witty at the same time. There is a clever commentary going on through the whole story that gives the book the feel of listening to a campfire story. 
"King Arthur's cooks were like kitchen magicians. It is said that Brussels sprouts prepared by King Arthur's chefs tasted better than custard pies prepared by anyone else. Their recipe for Brussels sprouts has, alas, been lost."

The story itself begins with Sir Gawain defeating a damsel, but behaving rudely to the damsel he rescued. The narrative then moves into the tale of the Green Knight and The Knightly tale of Gologras and Gawain. Morris weaves them together well and then cleverly links them to the opening scene with the dragon. Through all the quests, battles, and journeys Gawain's character undergoes a transformation. He begins as attention loving and self consumed, but the weight of his impending death at the hands of the Green Knight and the friendship of the people he meets along the way change him for the better. 


Sir Gawain the True is a delightful and fun read, one I will be definitely be recommending to friends looking for easy short chapter books for their boys.

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