The Ballad of Sir Dinadan

The Ballad of Sir Dinadan

4.2 10
by Gerald Morris

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Young Dinadan has no wish to joust or quest or save damsels in distress.
Can he find honor another way?  See more details below


Young Dinadan has no wish to joust or quest or save damsels in distress.
Can he find honor another way?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A minor knight from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur takes center stage in The Ballad of Sir Dinadan, the latest in Gerald Morris's reworking of the Arthurian cycle begun with The Squire's Tale. But the subjects of Dinadan's "ballad" are far from obscure: they are Tristan and Isolde. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
We return with Gerald Morris to another tale from the King Arthur stories, told with wit and imagination. (His other books have been well received, especially The Squire, His Knight, & His Lady, an ALA Best Book for YAs.) Sir Dinadan, younger brother of Tristan (remember Tristan and Isolde?) mostly helps people in a knightly way by using his imagination and not his physical prowess—really he isn't a trained fighter. He is a gifted musician, who can turn any story into a ballad. But minstrels aren't knights, even though Dinadan sits on his horse in such a way that he can sing and play his rebec with ease as he rides. The chapters relate a variety of adventures, many of which are a retelling of the Tristan and Isolde story, which Morris pretty much lampoons. Knights of the Round Table make their appearance in many of the stories: Sir Kai, Sir Bedivere, King Arthur himself. Above all is Morris's sense of fun—and his intelligent retelling of familiar stories. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, 245p., . Ages 12 to 18.
— Claire Rosser
Children's Literature
Sir Dinadan is not a typical knight. He jokes and sings and tells witty stories. And, most unusually, he would sooner solve a problem with his wits than his sword. Mr. Morris first met Dinadan in Sir Thomas Malory's "Morte d'Arthur" where he was playing a minor role in the story of Tristram and Iseult. The author felt a clever knight who would rather think than fight was worthy of a story all his own. So Mr. Morris wrote this lighthearted book that retells Arthurian tales from Dinadan's point of view. Dinadan's story starts when his father casually and carelessly knights him and sends him off on a quest. He heads for King Arthur's court where he hopes to meet up with his older brother, Tristram, who was the golden child in his family. There is never a boring moment as the reader follows Dinadan's adventures with Tristram whose armor is golden but whose character is dross, as well as Iseult, Culloch, Palomides, Lady Brangienne, and others. Popping in at crucial moments is a magical minstrel named Sylvanus, who helps his fellow musician out of some impossible spots. Mr. Morris's four earlier books based on Arthurian legends received enthusiastic reviews and his book "The Squire, His Knight & His Lady" is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. 2003, Houghton Mifflin Books,
— Janet Crane Barley
Knight and minstrel Sir Dinadan is a person with much integrity. He goes on quests to find his brother, Sir Tristram, only to find him a fool with a crush. I liked this novel particularly because of how humorous is the story of finding Sir Tristram. I rate this for everyone. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Houghton Mifflin, 266p,
— Kelsey Sands, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Morris's latest retelling of Arthurian legends introduces a reluctant knight who upholds the noble standards of Camelot in his own way. The likable and unassuming Dinadan, younger brother of the famous Sir Tristram, travels the land, encountering deceptive damsels and foolish knights. His compassion and common sense earn him the respect of many, and his keen wit satirizes the excesses of Arthurian heroism that he observes along the way. The tragic tale of Tristram and Iseult becomes a funny story "about two fools drinking from the wrong flask." Dinadan befriends a would-be knight named Culloch, but can't endure the useless parade of tasks his friend eagerly attempts to win a bride. The humor is accessible; readers don't need to know The Faery Queene to appreciate Dinadan's playful mockery of allegory (or, as he calls it, "saying things by pretending to say something else"). Along with the satire, though, Dinadan succeeds in righting some true wrongs, protecting a young woman he admires, and restoring a deposed king to his throne. Morris's skilled storytelling keeps the tale moving smoothly through various plot strands featuring many characters. The humor ranges from subtle irony to scenes of pure comedy, but never distracts from the engaging plot. Fans of the previous titles or Arthurian legend in general will thoroughly enjoy Sir Dinadan, but it stands on its own as a lighthearted introduction to the period.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fans of The Squire’s Tale (1998) and its sequels will welcome this new installment in the humorous take on the King Arthur legends. With main characters varying from book to book, this one introduces Dinadan, the son of a noted baron and younger brother of Tristram, a knight who has left home to seek fame and fortune. Dinadan is a gentle soul who loves music and pursues his dream to be a minstrel despite society’s rule that noblemen’s sons don’t become troubadours. Dinadan embarks on a series of adventures in which he learns about himself, finding courage he didn’t know he had. He teams up with knights from King Arthur’s court, and later, with a Moorish knight, learns the truth about Tristram’s real nature, and dabbles in romance. Morris deftly avoids a clichéd ending with a final, unexpected twist. Because readers are less familiar with the tales of Tristram and Iseult, and Culloch, the humor in this sequel may be less accessible to most than the earlier installments. While not the strongest or funniest in the series, this will nevertheless satisfy Arthurian buffs as well as those who like their history and fantasy mixed with humor. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Squire's Tales , #5
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sales rank:
800L (what's this?)
File size:
137 KB
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

When Gerald Morris was in fifth grade he loved Greek and Norse mythology and before long was retelling the stories to his younger sister and then to neighborhood kids. He began carrying a notebook in which he kept some of the details related to the different stories. The joy he found in retelling those myths continued when he discovered other stories. According to Gerald Morris, “I never lost my love of retelling the old stories. When I found Arthurian literature, years later, I knew at once that I wanted to retell those grand tales. So I pulled out my notebook . . . I retell the tales, peopling them with characters that I at least find easier to recognize, and let the magic of the Arthurian tradition go where it will.” Gerald Morris lives in Wausau, Wisconsin, with his wife and their three children. In addition to writing he serves as a minister in a church.

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