The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady
by Gerald Morris
Book 2 in The Squire's Tales continues the adventures of Sir Gawain, knight of
King Arthur's Round Table, and his faithful, half-faery squire Terence. Mainly based
on the medieval legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which in turn was based
on even more ancient legends from pre-Christian Ireland and far-off Persia, this
book pretty faithfully retells one of the most moving quest stories in world
literature. Meanwhile, it lines the aisles and packs the scenery with clever
embellishments, old conventions turned upside-down, newly-invented characters, old
ones with reconsidered motives, and fresh detail.
The tale takes place at a time of transition. Gawain's fame as the world's greatest
knight has begun to be eclipsed by the rising star of Lancelot. But the coming of
Lancelot has brought pain to King Arthur as well: the pain of disillusionment with
his and Guinevere's fairy-tale love affair. But all this only lends an undertone of
melancholy to the main adventure, in which Gawain spends most of a year seeking his
own death - death in fulfillment of a vow; death for love of his king.
This is the story of the giant Green Knight who appears at Camelot and offers to let
anyone cut his head off who will, in exactly one year, let him behead them back.
Gawain comes forward and does the grisly deed; then the Green Knight picks up his
head and walks away, warning the hero to remember his vow. But a year of searching
for the Green Knight and his green chapel only leads Gawain and his faithful squire
to one strange adventure after another; adventures in which they are joined by the
spirited Lady Eileen, who proves to be the love of Terence's life.
Their journey takes them deep into the Other World, the world of faery, where people
and things are not what they seem. As they go alone, Gawain and his friends
experience terror, love, despair, and shame. They display cleverness, courage,
goodness, and honor. They perform feats that become the stuff of legend - and, at
times, show us what earthy and even embarrassing reality might lie at the bottom of
many long-revered legends. And when they return, they even manage to straighten out
the problem of Lancelot.
Morris's continued retelling of the deeds of Gawain adds a whole new dimension of
fantasy surrounding Terence and other denizens of the Seelie Court. It shades in
larger-than-life figures of revered legend in down-to-earth colors you can enjoy.
And in its clear, direct, single-serving proportions it can prepare you to read,
with greater enjoyment, still more detailed and mature retellings of the Arthurian
legends, of which there seem to be no end. If you like tales of knights and
chivalry, here is a side of them worth visiting.
Recommended Age: 12+
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