“There have always been two ways to be rich: by accumulating vast sums or by needing very little.”
Is chivalry dead?
Watching the news, reading comments on Facebook, and viewing some of the world’s entertainment offerings (those not covered by GeekDad), you would be forgiven for thinking so. Ethan Hawke begs to differ. With his little book Rules for a Knight, Hawke shows that knightly virtues such as courage, humility, and honesty very much have a place in modern life, whatever we are doing.
Rules for a Knight was written for Hawke’s four children. It’s a series of allegories told by a knight on the eve of the battle that claimed his life. Sir Tomas Lemuel Hawke writes a letter to his children, passing on what he learned from his grandfather, and explaining how he came to be a knight. He wants his children to live a good and noble life, even without his hand to guide them.
And who wouldn’t want that for their children?
Hawke walks the thin line between sage advice and over-sentimental homily, managing to stay on the right side throughout. There are many ways a Hollywood star giving out vaguely mystic advice could have gone horribly wrong, but Hawke avoids them. Much as Sir Thomas might have suggested, egos have been left at the door. The book’s gentle lessons are delivered in an easy-to-read and entertaining style.
Rules for a Knight is lovely to read aloud. The chapters are short and their message clear, but are interesting enough to debate their finer points as you head up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire. My edition (the UK edition) is nicely presented: a small hardcover with a pleasingly tactile cover, and a bookmark ribbon. It would make a great, slightly different gift to mark a birth, christening, or Jedi knighting ceremony.
“A knight knows where he keeps his flint box…A knight does not need to be told how many arrows are left in his quiver. Responsibility, awareness and self-knowledge are his allies. Forgetfulness is his enemy”.
(The sort of quote you need when your son comes home without his coat, lunchbox, or tie. And it’s only Monday.)
Rules for a Knight is a great little book, that, whilst on the surface archaic, is often right on the money for the modern world. If you’re looking for a gentle way to show your children a more “mindful” way of living, then this book will probably do that–without making them throw up.
Rules of A Knight is available in the US, published by Knopf and in the UK published by Hutchinson. All royalties from sales of the book are being donated organizations working to help young people overcome learning disabilities. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.