This is going to sound like hyperbole. Rest assured, I’m completely serious in what I’m about to declare. This book deserves to be up on the same pedestal as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Morihei Ueshiba’s The Art of Peace, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, and Geoffroi de Charny’s The Book of Chivalry. I will soon have a hardcopy of this book that sits on the shelf beside these volumes in testament to that fact.
Actor Ethan Hawke hails from a lineage of knights and hawkers from Cornwall, and this book, while presented perhaps as fiction (?), is cobbled together from translated letters from an ancestor of his dating to 1483.
Think about that for a second. Edward V ascended to the throne of England, succeeded later that same year by Richard III after Edward’s murder as one of the “princes in the tower.” This is the year the Grand Council of the Inquisition is created in Spain. William Hastings is the first recorded execution at the Tower of London. This is a world in chaos and hardship transitioning out of the middle ages. But in the middle of all of it, a knight writes a letter to his children as he prepares to set out in battle and explains to them the virtues that define knights and ladies.
This book is epic level parenting, and it’s so much more than that. Do not be deceived by its simplicity. Such manuals of chivalry are always simplistic in their delivery. What makes this different is that it doesn’t just give you the “rules.” It explains the wisdom behind them. It offers them in a spirit of cooperation and equality that is virtually unknown in this time period and is relatively new in our own some 530+ years later.
It resonates to what’s often believed to be “missing” from society today. I am in complete awe of how effortlessly these explanations come across as simple common sense.
This is a truly beautiful book that’s being dismissed as mere children’s fare. It’s anything but. You know how people say that life should come with a manual? Look no further. This is it.