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The Quest of the Fair Unknown

The Quest of the Fair Unknown

4.6 3
by Gerald Morris

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On her deathbed, Beaufils’s mother leaves him with a quest and a clue: find your father, a knight of King Arthur’s court. So Beaufils leaves the isolated forest of his youth and quickly discovers that he has much to learn about the world beyond his experience. Beaufils’s innocence never fails to make his companions grin, but his fresh outlook on the


On her deathbed, Beaufils’s mother leaves him with a quest and a clue: find your father, a knight of King Arthur’s court. So Beaufils leaves the isolated forest of his youth and quickly discovers that he has much to learn about the world beyond his experience. Beaufils’s innocence never fails to make his companions grin, but his fresh outlook on the world’s peculiarities turns out to be more of a gift than a curse as they encounter unexpected friends and foes.

With his constant stream of wise fools and foolish wise men, holy hermits and others of rather less holiness, plotting magicians and conniving Ladies, Gerald Morris infuses these medieval stories with a riotous humor all his own.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
For seventeen years, Beaufils has lived with his mother in an isolated glen. He has never so much as seen another person. Now, his mother has died. On her deathbed, she has charged him with a task: Find your father. The task is made difficult by two facts: First, she does not tell Beaufils his father's name. Second, Beaufils doesn't know any other name for his mother. So, begins his quest, the first story in Gerald Morris's "The Squire's Tales" series. Knowing only that his father was a knight of the Round Table, Beaufils sets out to find him. As can be expected from a boy who has only ever known his mother, Beaufils is the picture of innocence. He knows nothing of wickedness, treachery, or evil, but he encounters it quickly and repeatedly on his travels. His trip isn't all bleak, though. Beaufils is quick to make friends with those who truly need his help. It is when he steps off the path of his own quest to help his friends with theirs that he comes closest to finding the truth about his own identity. Morris's appealing tale blends humor with adventure, demonstrating a keen understanding of Arthurian legend while giving it a new twist.
VOYA - Kim Carter
Following his mother's deathbed instructions, seventeen-year-old Beaufils buries her and sets off on a quest to find his father. His only clue is that his father was a knight in Camelot. Beaufils meets Galahad, and the two travel to Camelot, arriving in time to witness a vision charging Arthur's knights to take up the quest for the Holy Grail. Leaving Camelot, Beaufils and Galahad soon encounter Gawain, who joins them for a time, to Beaufils's pleasure. They encounter various adventures along the way, the first of which results in the addition of the Lady Ellyn to their group of travelers. As Galahad single-mindedly pursues extreme virtue in his quest for the Grail, Beaufils-whom Gawain prefers to call Le Beau Desconus or "The Fair Unknown"-departs to accompany Lady Ellyn on her as yet undefined quest. With a nanve innocence that belies his native intelligence, Beaufils is a keen observer of human behavior and an eminently cheerful foil for the various "holy men" encountered on their journeys. Weaving together several French and English stories, Morris creates a spiritual complement to The Squire's Tales, stating in his author's note, "I've had heroes who were squires, ladies, pages, minstrels, knights, and fools, and to be fair to the medieval world, I really needed a religious hero too." Morris's signature wry humor, silliness, and occasional dashes of magic continue to revitalize tales from the Middle Ages. This latest allegorical tale will be best appreciated by series aficionados.
VOYA - Lillian Filliman
In this latest addition to Morris's series, readers are introduced to a new hero dubbed Le Beau Desconus or the Fair Unknown. Named for his puzzling background and breathtaking looks, Le Beau sets out on an adventure to find his father, who is rumored to be a knight of the Round Table. Although I found past Camelot adventures to be more exciting, I still like how Morris is able to weave together previous stories into this new quest of self-discovery.
Back to the Arthurian legends, this time one about Beaufils (fair son), who is a kind of holy fool determined to join the Knights of the Round Table in search of The Holy Grail. (Will we ever think of The Holy Grail again without The Da Vinci Code in our heads?) Morris, who is a minister and thus interested in sacred journeys, turns the whimsical humor we are familiar with from others in this series to a quest for something spiritual and unknown. He explains in an afterword that this idea of a pilgrimage or quest was not unusual in the Middle Ages. Don't worry, the humor is still evident. Sir Galahad is Beaufils's traveling companion and drives most people they meet nuts with his rigid piety. Beaufils is more practical, in a simple, direct way, and his heart is purer. Yet he isn't sure what he is looking for. When he and Sir Galahad actually find The Holy Grail, Galahad stays and Beaufils leaves. Eventually, Beau discovers his real name and the identity of his father. He then becomes comfortable with his decision to continue his quest. "He didn't exactly know what he was looking for, but he knew what to call it: the Fair Unknown." An interesting addition to this series. (The Squire's Tales.). KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2006, Houghton Mifflin, 264p., $16.00.. Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Morris continues his tradition of effectively translating the tales of King Arthur for a new generation of readers. Beaufils spends the first 17 years of his life in a forest cottage with his loving mother, never meeting another human being. Then, upon her urging, he goes forth into the world of men, to seek out King Arthur's court and his erstwhile father. This unique background makes the protagonist the perfect foil for the other characters' antics. He bumbles along, innocently taming evil as he seeks his father and helps his friends complete their own quests. While less mature readers will be carried away by the compelling story line and interesting characters, more sophisticated teens will appreciate the dry wit with which Morris reveals his character's flaws. A heartwarming and thought-provoking tale, this story is sure to entertain readers.-Nicki Clausen-Grace, Carillon Elementary School, Oviedo, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Morris continues his intelligent retellings of Arthurian legends with a tale of multiple quests, centered on a young man so innocent of the world that he makes Candide look like Casanova. Never having met another human besides his just-deceased mother, or ventured far from his isolated forest home, Beaufils sets out to find his unknown father and his real name. Regarding all he sees with a fresh eye, and nearly everyone he meets as a potential friend, Beaufils arrives at Camelot just in time to join the Grail Quest, and, traveling with several Knights of the Round Table-notably invincible, tiresomely sanctimonious Galahad-falls into all sorts of colorful encounters with dreamers, schemers, bandits, sectarian hermits and baroque enchantments. With Beaufils, who combines sharp common sense with a fundamental simplicity (not to mention a hunky appearance and plenty of natural martial prowess), Morris creates another immensely likable character whose adventures will leave readers ruminating on foolish promises, surface beauty, narrow-minded religious views, silly misconceptions about the nature of honor and ways of identifying truly worthy quests. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Squire's Tales , #8
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
840L (what's this?)
File size:
144 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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Quest of the Fair Unknown (The Squire's Tales Series #8) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
His_pureheart_princess More than 1 year ago
I love the style of these books. Each book is a story of its own while fitting in with the rest of the series. This book is no exception. The characters are well thought out, complex and allowed to grow. The humor is great, and fits with the period - there is no awkward wording or words that didn't exist then. The story itself is engaging and pulls you in. It's very hard not to read the whole book in one sitting. It's an easy read for anyone 12+ or good readers. Gerald Morris is wonderful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago