Knights. Romantic, bound to honor, wielding weaponry and wearing armor. What’s not to love? But they’re not in common in YA books as you’d think. Here are five YA books with knights that speak the truth: knights rule. (Especially female knights.)
Once & Future, by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Look, if you’re thinking about knights in the vein of Arthurian re-imaginings, you’re probably thinking about Once & Future. What’s not to love about a queer take on Arthurian legend…but in SPACE? This entire concept is absolutely awesome. In Once & Future, Ari crashlands to Earth and pulls a magic sword out of a stone, revealing herself to be the newest incarnation of King Arthur. With the help of a now-teenage Merlin, she has an oppressive government to overthrow and a revolution to start. No big deal.
The Afterward, by E.K. Johnston
Want to know what the world always needs more of? Lady knights. That’s exactly what E.K. Johnston’s epic YA fantasy The Afterward delivers. In the year after a mysterious godsgem cured the king and ushered in golden age, Kalantha Ironheart and Olsa Rhetsdaughter refuse to come home. Reputation of good deeds doesn’t pay bills, after all. But as they try to follow their own paths to a stable future, the godsgem intervenes—and that golden age? Might not be a sure thing after all.
Cursed, by Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller
It’s no wonder everybody’s excitedly talking about Cursed: an original Netflix series starring Katherine Langford based on the book will be releasing soon. Nimue grew up an outcast, banished for her connection to magic—until her dying mother charges her with reuniting an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, forcing her to team up with a mercenary named Arthur and fey folk that have fled across Englnad. Who needs a king? Here, the Lady of the Lake is the true hero—a knight worthy of us all. The book features 8 full-color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.
Princeless (Vol. 1): Save Yourself, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin
There is nothing better than a princess-turned-knight. I’m obsessed with everything about Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin’s Princeless universe. A girl determined to save her sisters? A friendly, helpful dragon? An extended canon specifically for a pirate princess and her all-lady crew? Open mockery of traditional sexist fantasy tropes? Yes, please! In the first volume of the comic series, Adrienne Ashe shakes off her shackles and leaves her tower, determined to become the knight that rescues her sister from their towers, where their father has locked them up for their supposed safety. But her sisters each have their own destinies, and being a knight is harder than it seems….
The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan, by Sherry Thomas
Okay, Mulan isn’t exactly a knight. That specific rank of warrior didn’t exist within her army. But if you’re the kind of reader who loves a fighter with a strong moral compass, willing to go to the ends of the earth to protect her family and her country, than you need to read The Magnolia Sword. Mulan has trained her whole life to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight—but then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding families send a soldier to fight in the war. Her brother is a child and her father cannot fight, so Mulan ties up her hair and joins the army, where she is selected for an elite team. They don’t know the truth about her—but they won’t be able to win the war without her.