Yvain is a pure-hearted knight of the Round Table in the legendary King Arthur’s court. One fine day, our gallant knight sets off to find adventure, but by simply pouring water on a rock, he lands in the center of a web of danger and magical spells.
I spent my teen years reading Chrétien de Troyes and other medieval writers, all because my adored older brother was studying the Middle Ages in graduate school. These adventurous tales are perfect for teens, as they are filled with fierce battles, love affairs, fateful choices, and strange magic. Unfortunately, they have been so popular over the years that they have been rewritten to the point that they are barely recognizable sometimes, and many readers have come to believe that these modern novels tell the real story.
M.T. Anderson is an award-winning writer for teens who seems to enjoy working in a new genre each time he publishes a title. While remaining true to this ancient story, he has chosen a very contemporary presentation: a graphic novel. It works brilliantly. Recalling the busy borders of illuminated manuscripts, artist Andrea Offermann packs information into her illustrations, portraying clothing, court life, dwellings, scriptoria, and even the magical monsters of the time. Religion played a major role in medieval life, and honor was paramount, neither of which is true of American life today, and this particular story also offers a window into the influence of women in the Middle Ages. Anderson and Offermann convey these cultural differences without comment within the story, although they each provide two pages of informative notes at the end.
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion is a perfect introduction to medieval literature for your kids twelve and up, and makes an excellent companion to any study of the Middle Ages.
Highly recommended and available in March, 2017.
Disclaimer: I read a highly-valued advance reader copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.