Yvain: The Knight of the Lion

M.T. Anderson, illus. by Andrea Offermann. Candlewick, $19.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5939-4
Anderson’s (Symphony for the City of the Dead) clever, nuanced recasting of Chrétien de Troyes’s Arthurian legend blends archaic courtliness (“May God hear you”) with modern clarity (“Oh, dry up”). Young knight Yvain, banished from the castle for breaking his promise to his wife, the noble Laudine, retreats into the forest: “There was a storm in his head so violent that he did not know who he was.” Emerging chastened and transformed, he seizes the chance to stand as champion for Laudine’s servant Lunette, hoping to redeem himself in his lady’s eyes—only to find that his opponent is his cousin Gawain. Along the way, he rescues innocents from monsters and evildoers with the help of a lion whose life he saved. Offermann’s (the Thickety series) sequential artwork provides a thrilling, nonstop barrage of swordplay, gallantry, and magic; her battle scenes pulse with life, especially when the lion comes to Yvain’s aid. Throughout, Anderson teases out the story’s dark undercurrents, in which friends can be foes, and every emotion conceals its opposite: “I tell you, hatred and love may live cramped together, crouching in the same heart.” Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2016
Release date: 03/14/2017
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