Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce
Macmillan Children's Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781529029260.
(Ages 9-12). Highly recommended. Max and the Midknights is a funny, exciting adventure story set in the Middle Ages and told with a mixture of text, speech bubbles and comic panels by the author of the Big Nate series.
The main character Max is a troubadour apprentice to Uncle Budrick but dearly wants to become a Knight. But there is a problem, Max is a girl, something that is not revealed until nearly 60 pages into the story. She travels with her Uncle to his childhood home Byjovias only to find that the kingdom has been taken over by a nasty treacherous King Gastley who has bewitched the population to make them compliant.
King Gastley makes her uncle his castle fool and Max sets out to rescue him with her new friends Kevyn, Millie and Simon (who form the Midknights) and a retired magician called Mumblin who often messes up his magic spells. Mumblin reveals to Max that she is mentioned in a book of Prophesies which says she is to undertake a journey to save the Kingdom. Max shows how brave and determined she is as she leads her group on the quest which includes encounters with zombies in the haunted woods, friendly flying dragons, a real knight and a sorceress. This story has everything from magic rings to enchanted swords and a lost king hidden in a high tower. Told using quite modern language but including some excellent information about life in the Middle Ages, this book will be popular with both boys and girls in middle primary. Themes: Knights and knighthood, Middle Ages, Troubadours, Sex role.