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Review of Max & the Midknights

Max & the Midknights
by Lincoln Peirce; illus. by the author
Intermediate    Crown    280 pp.    g
1/19    978-1-101-93108-0    $13.99
Library ed.  978-1-101-93109-7    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-1-101-93110-3    $8.99

It’s the Middle Ages, and redheaded Max is Uncle Budrick’s troubadour apprentice. Max longs to become a knight, but there’s just one problem: Max is a girl, a fact neatly not revealed until almost fifty pages in. She’s shocked when she learns that girls aren’t allowed to be knights or do most jobs boys do. When the kingdom of Byjovia’s treacherous King Gastley makes the inept Budrick his fool, Max rescues her uncle with help from new friends Kevyn, Millie, and Simon (who dub themselves “the Midknights”) and a bumbling magician named Mumblin. Then Max discovers she’s prophesized to save Byjovia from Gastley, so Max, the other Midknights, and Uncle Budrick (disguised as a goose) set off on a hero’s journey, encountering zombies, a real knight, a sorceress, dragons, and a boy with a life-changing secret. There’s much to enjoy in this newest comics-novel hybrid from Peirce (Big Nate, rev. 7/10; etc.). Max is a strong female protagonist who defies gender expectations, and she and her fellow Midknights repeatedly showcase their determination, skills, and bravery. Peirce’s narrative flows seamlessly between regular text and speech bubbles in the black-and-white comic panels. He offers readers not only a humorous, action-packed story but also enlightening information about life in the fourteenth century in an accessible modern vernacular. Here’s hoping there are more entertaining adventures in store for Max and the Midknights.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.

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