A charge through the glory days of knighthood, led by a latter-day Master of the Secret Order of the Round Table.
Presented as an updated facsimile of an Elizabethan-era volume that was embedded in a stone until pulled free by one of the publisher’s children, this lap-sized manual offers scattershot commentary on an array of knightly topics illustrated with modern painted views of heavily armored figures, weaponry, and castles. Would-be young squires will get basic lowdowns on knights of both yore—particularly William Marshall, a warrior of the 12th and 13th centuries who served five English kings—and lore, knightly training, chivalric behavior, jousting, and select early Crusades. Along with an introductory missive in an envelope, special features include a few sliding panels, overlapping flaps that allow readers to (partially) undress a knight, and mounted booklets containing abbreviated accounts of famous medieval battles, a version of “Gawain and the Green Knight,” and like fare. For budding knights-errant coded clues throughout purportedly lead to the Holy Grail, which is depicted at the end as an elaborately decorated chalice with an inset “jewel.” All of the figures are white, European men aside from the odd horse, damsel (also white), or olive-skinned Saracen.
More a few quick stabs at the topic than a solid bashing—but lively despite its relatively light load of bells and whistles. (Fictionalized informational novelty. 9-11)