Yvain: The Knight of the Lion
As a fan of medieval literature, I was excited to see Anderson adapt this story about one of King Arthur’s knights by Chrétien de Troyes. Anderson does make some changes to the plot and characters (presumably to streamline the story) that fundamentally change some of the themes explored in the original French medieval romance, but because most of the target audience will not have read the source, these changes are unlikely to be a point of contention. The story that Anderson and Offermann present is one of courage, love, and loyalty lost and regained. Yvain is not always heroic, and the outcomes of the adventures are not always happy, but this is the point, and it paints a more complicated version of King Arthur’s times and his knights than readers get from other sources. The female characters in particular seem stuck between having power and being unable to wield it to get what they want. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking story.
Offerman’s illustrations are gorgeous and often the backbone of the story when Anderson chooses not to use words to explain plot events from his source material. Her art is detailed and based in extensive research, adding a wonderful layer of nuance to the book. This adaptation will make the most sense to readers who have read Chrétien’s version, but it is a solid introduction to medieval romance for those who have not.
M.T. Anderson, Andrea Offermann
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