Title: Max and the MidKnights
Author: Lincoln Peirce
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Review Spoilers: High (A major plot twist is revealed – BEWARE!)
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If you have kids around then the name Lincoln Peirce is probably familiar. He’s the creator behind the Big Nate series which tends to have a similar appeal to the Diary of Wimpy Kid books. It’s a humorous, slice of life middle grade series. But this time Lincoln Peirce is branching out to tell a new story – that of Max and the MidKnights!
While the comic strip format and simple style remain similar to the Big Nate comics, that’s largely where the similarities end. Max and the MidKnights takes place in the Middle Ages and follows a young apprentice troubador named Max who dreams of becoming a knight. However, that’s pretty unlikely in the fictional kingdom that Max calls home. That is until Max takes things into her own hands and pulls together a ragtag band of misfits after running afoul of the evil King Gastley.
Yes, that’s right. I said ‘her own hands.’
I hate to spoil the big reveal but the main character, Max, turns out to be a girl! This revelation isn’t made until nearly fifty pages in. (Incidentally, it’s how I could tell I was way further ahead in the book than my twelve year old when we were both reading it at the same time.) This is huge in my opinion because a lot of the best selling comic/journal style books tend to feature male protagonists and this time around we’ve got a leading lady headlining. I was shocked that Max turned out to be a girl and for me it made the book even more interesting because who doesn’t want to cheer on a wannabe lady knight?
Over all, the story is a lot of fun. I have had limited experience with the Big Nate series and most of my knowledge comes second hand from my kids or my past library work. If they’re this fun and full of silly jokes, though, I’ll have to check them out.
Max and the MidKnights sees these kids go on a pretty general epic quest but along the way a lot of fantasy tro-xpes get turned on their heads. Friendly dragons, evil kings, and magic abound. At times the book bounces between attempting to throw in a handful of historical facts about the Middle Ages to running head long into a traditional fantasy novel which it eventually settles into which can be a bit odd. But the pacing is fast and fun. Unfortunately, that means it’s likely to be a quick read which will lead your kiddos desperately wanting more.
I had a lot of fun reading Max and the MidKnights and it was a fun experience reading it alongside one of my kiddos. If you’ve got a Middle Grade reader who is powering through the usual titles and needs something new to check out, Max and the MidKnights is a great book to give them!