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Children's LiteratureThis slim book provides an excellent, unromantic look at the life of medieval knights. It starts by describing knights as professional soldiers and powerful killing machines. Since there were no strong central governments, each small entity needed its own protectors, so aristocrats recruited armies of knights and soldiers. Knighthood was a sought-after career. An 11th century writer described knights on their way to battle joyously singing warlike songs. Between real battles, knights grew restless, so the tradition of tournaments or mock battles began. About the same time, chivalry evolved to lessen the violence of knighthood and make it more refined. A knight's training began when he was a young boy working as a page. When he reached his teens, he became a squire or apprentice to his knight. Some were squires all their lives because they failed the test to become a knight, especially when it came to money. Others went on to be dubbed knights. This book in Kidhaven's "Daily Life" series is geared to students who have difficulty with reading. With its clear-eyed look at the subject, using many primary references, this is a useful book for anyone interested in the subject. Many of the handsome full-color illustrations come from medieval sources. End material includes source notes, glossary, bibliography geared to its primary audience, and an index. 2003, Kidhaven Press, Ages 9 up.
—Janet Crane Barley