- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 2 hours and 14 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: November 10, 2015
- Language: English
- ASIN: B016V7ZPSW
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Rules for a Knight Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm really happy to have read this and I completely recommend it to you. I hope this review helps you.
In the “Editor’s Note”, Hawke explains that the book is his own reconstruction and interpretation of a professor’s literal translation (from Cornish) of a badly damaged letter, purportedly written by a 15th-century knight and Hawke ancestor to his children on the eve of his death in a historical battle, found in the Hawkes’ family farm basement in the early 1970s. Hawke clearly states that the authenticity of the letter has not been conclusively established and that, where he struggled to convey the knight’s thoughts, he borrowed from the writings and expressions of other “knights”, most of whom are 19th- and 20th-century authors, thinkers, leaders, and artists: Emily Dickinson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bob Dylan, Victor Hugo, Vince Lombardi, Nelson Mandela, Thich Nhat Hanh, Anais Nin, River Phoenix, and Mother Teresa, to name just a few. So the book makes no claim to originality or exclusivity.
The book consists largely of 20 knightly rules, (if you’re interested, a numbered list of the rules follows this review below) each presented in its own chapter fronted by an elegant black-and-white line drawing (by Hawke’s wife, Ryan) of an avian scene and supported by a pithy definition or explanation of how to apply the rule followed by a few pages of colorful narrative explaining how the meaning or importance of that rule was impressed upon the knight. In addition to the 20 chapters and the “Editor’s Note”, there are: a brief introduction in which the knight explains to his children why he’s writing this letter; a poem or song titled “The Ballad of the Forty-Four-Pointed Red Deer” following the 20th chapter which is referred to in and important to chapter 18, “Equality”; and a concluding “Special Thanks to Other Knights” listing the numerous individuals from whose writings Hawke has borrowed.
There are many good proverb-style statements scattered throughout the book supporting the knightly rules and imparting nuggets of wisdom. Some of them are quotably profound (“You are always in the right place at exactly the right time, and you always have been”) or enigmatic (“You are better than no one, and no one is better than you”). A few seem contrived or silly (“Anything that gives light must endure burning”), and of course there are some clichés. I won’t list any as examples because I try hard to avoid cliché. One thing in particular I did not like was the long poem/song “The Ballad of the Forty-Four-Pointed Red Deer”. Although it may work metaphorically or allegorically, followed to its logical conclusion it is highly implausible, and as a poem, its rhythm, meter, and rhyme are amateurish and tortured. I also would have liked to have seen a facsimile of the original letter, or at least part of it, written by the knight as well as a copy of the professor’s translation from the original Cornish. Also, a bibliography to accompany the “Special Thanks to Other Knights” section for readers interested in further exploration of their thoughts would be nice. Those additions would be really cool but would perhaps detract from the book’s convenient compactness and portability. Maybe in a future expanded edition? (Hint, hint, Ethan Hawke!)
The story accompanying the rules is entertaining and should hold the attention of YA readers as well as adults who enjoy this type of literature, and the book should appeal to females as well as males. Several statements throughout the book make it clear that the author is writing to his daughters as well as his sons and that he equates ladyship with knighthood. As a wisdom-imparting or character-building manual, what I like most about _Rules For a Knight_ is that it is almost wholly devoid of religion. Yes, there are many characteristics of both Western and Eastern wisdom, spirituality, and philosophy here, but there are no explicit references to any particular belief system, church, or denomination (well, one, sort of, in Chapter 13, "Generosity", but it’s not blatant). That may be a big turn-off for Western readers who prefer that their values education be rooted in a particular religious tradition, but it’s a strong selling point for me. I intend to buy several copies for myself and to give as gifts to some of the younger people in my life, and I believe many readers will consider this book a great gift for graduating high schoolers.
List of chapters/Rules For a Knight: 1. Solitude; 2. Humility; 3. Gratitude; 4. Pride; 5. Cooperation; 6. Friendship; 7. Forgiveness; 8. Honesty; 9. Courage; 10. Grace; 11. Patience; 12. Justice; 13. Generosity; 14. Discipline; 15. Dedication; 16. Speech; 17. Faith; 18. Equality; 19. Love; 20. Death