Quill Tree Books
Published March 8, 2022
Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It’s the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program.
It’s not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the “greater good” that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined.
Aiza will have to choose, once and for all: loyalty to her heart and heritage, or loyalty to the Empire.
After seeing so many positive things about this book last year, I decided I really needed to read it. My nephew is really interested in graphic novels, so I’m always looking for new ones he might be interested in.
In its simplest terms, SQUIRE is the story of Aiza, who joins the army for an opportunity to train as a squire when she’s promised she’ll be granted full citizenship if she passes her training. She meets other recruits and an unlikely mentor and has to navigate through trials and betrayals.
I really liked Aiza and the small, close-knit group she forms at training. I loved the way the panels showed the characters’ expressions and the way the action sequences were laid out. The story pulled me in. I wanted to know what would happen to Aiza, so it was really easy to just keep reading all the way through this book.
The story addresses some racism and marginalization of Aiza and the Ornu people. She faces prejudice and betrayal. She feels caught in the middle as a soldier serving an empire that doesn’t acknowledge her people as equal members and who could be tasked with fighting against her own people. I thought those parts were well-incorporated into the fantasy setting and story.
On the whole, I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely be looking out for more work by these authors. Readers who enjoyed Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu, and Joamette Gil should check this one out.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Aiza is Ornu, a marginalized minority race in her country. There are characters with a variety of skin tones.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used infrequently.
Aiza and others sign up to join the army and train to be squires. Aiza experiences a battle in which one of her team members is injured. Characters make disparaging and racist comments about Aiza and her people.
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