HomeIDIOM #53. n1 reviewsGraphic Novels

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion

Small YvainAuthor: M.T. Anderson (illustrated by Andrea Offermann)
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2017), 133 pages
RRP: $27.99

This beautiful graphic novel is based on a ballad composed by twelfth century French poet, Chrétien de Troyes, forming part of the legend of King Arthur and his knights. The opening imagery of the novel is striking; a falcon is unhooded and released by its handler, majestically taking flight over a forest where it spies a knight and horse, both bloodied and injured, slowly making their way to King Arthur’s court. Through the clever blend of conversation and imagery on a tapestry in the background, the reader learns that the injured knight is Yvain’s cousin who went in search of adventure (apparently the main pursuit of knights of the period) in the forest of Brocéliande. He finds a fountain and magical weather stone; pouring water on the stone releases a torrential storm, threatening the safety of the local dukedom and triggering an attack from the Red Knight, who sets out to defend his dukedom. Having established this backstory, the narrative soon centres on the adventures and struggles of Yvain, who sets out to challenge the Red Knight and avenge his cousin.