"Seven-year-old James wants to be a brave and noble knight like his father. He dreams of the day that he too will wear the golden spurs that symbolize knighthood. But before his dreams are realized, James must work for seven years as a page and for seven more as a squire, learning to ride, hunt, and fight."
An excellent primer for all those eager to be a knight, even if they are 500 years too late. James is made a page at Lord Hawkes's castle when he is seven; O'Brien, in his first solo outing, explains James's duties as he gradually advances first to squiredom, and then to knighthood when he is 21. His education is sweeping, including swordplay but also music; James must learn to behave with propriety and dignity - he can't simply study, but must embrace, the manners, rituals, and code of chivalry - and he has to display pluck and courage in both war and tournaments. O'Brien complements the story with numerous asides that lend veracity to the tale, on, for example, different types of armor donned by knights (jousting, battle, parade) and the various horses they employ (destriers, coursers, palfreys). A modest love story becomes part of the proceedings, suspended when James becomes a knight-errant. An excellent story, full of information, and the fine oil paintings bring polish to the days of James's journey and make them palpable. (Kirkus Reviews)