Our Summer Reading Club starts today! In honor of this year’s theme, A Midsummer Knight’s Read, here are some medieval-themed literature:
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
After being declared a “wolf’s head” by his manor’s corrupt steward for a crime he didn’t commit (meaning that anyone can kill him like a common animal–and collect a reward), this timid boy has to flee a tiny village that’s the only world he’s ever known. “Asta’s son,” as he’s always been known, learns from the village priest that his Christian name is Crispin, and that his parents’ origins–and fates–might be more perplexing than he ever imagined.
The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse
Johanna is a servant girl to Dame Margery Kempe, a renowned medieval holy woman. Dame Margery feels the suffering the Virgin Mary felt for her son but cares little for the misery she sees every day. When she announces that Johanna will accompany her on a pilgrimage to Rome, the suffering truly begins. After walking all day, Johanna must fetch water, wash clothes, and cook for the entire party of pilgrims. Then arguing breaks out between Dame Margery and the other travelers, and Johanna is caught in the middle. As the fighting escalates, Dame Margery turns her back on the whole group, including Johanna. Abandoned in a foreign land where she doesn’t even speak the language, the young maidservant must find her own way to Rome.
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man–any rich man, no mater how awful. But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call–by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all.
Unfortunately, he is also the richest. Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannared, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father? Not if Catherine has anything to say about it! Also by Cushman: Matilda Bone about an apprentice bonesetter
The Legend of Lady Ilena by Patricia Malone
Ilena, daughter of Moren and Grenna, has lived in the Vale of Enfert for all of her 15 years, but it is not her true home. Her parents refused to speak about the place they came from or their lineage. After the deaths of both of her parents, her questions remain unanswered. Her father’s final words to her provide the single clue: “Go to Dun Alyn. Find Ryamen.” Ilena sets out alone on the dangerous trip across Britain, certain only that Dun Alyn is a fortress somewhere in the East. Her skills as a warrior are tested against raiders from the West and Painted Ones from the Far North, but her most formidable challenge awaits her at Dun Alyn. Will she be able to accept her true identity and fulfill her destiny?
The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris
Despite being the son of a chieftain and a princess, fourteen-year-old Halfdan lives as a slave in Denmark in A.D. 845 but through a tragic bargain he gains his freedom and sets out to claim his birthright. Halfdan must suffer a grave loss in order to grasp what he most desires: to be a great warrior. Bloody, furiously paced, heart-wrenching, and unflinching, this is a story of a land where the destinies of boys and men are forged in the heat of battle. Young Halfdan shall come to know the glories of true brotherhood and the unspeakable horrors of true evil.
Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle
AEthelflaed is King Alfred’s eldest daughter and her royal blood makes her a target and vulnerable to those who would wish to hurt the king. Suddenly betrothed to the king’s ally, AEthelflaed finds herself constrained by the presence of Red, a gruff new bodyguard assigned to protect her and deliver her to her new home. Soon she learns that Red has much more than protection to offer her. He begins teaching her how to battle like a man. And when enemies threaten the borderlands, Flaed turns first to her guardian, and at last to her own inner resources and battle skills to save her life and protect the lives of her men. AEthelflaed was an actual noblewoman who seized power in central England a thousand years ago and became the greatest heroine in Old English medieval history.