Rules for a Knight

Rules for a Knight

by Ethan Hawke

Narrated by Alessandro Nivola

Unabridged — 2 hours, 14 minutes

Rules for a Knight

Rules for a Knight

by Ethan Hawke

Narrated by Alessandro Nivola

Unabridged — 2 hours, 14 minutes

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It is 1483, and Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke, a Cornish knight, is about to ride into battle. On the eve of his departure, he composes a letter to his four young children, consisting of twenty virtues that provide instruction on how to live a noble life, and on all the lessons, large and small, that he might have imparted to them himself were he not expecting to die on the battlefield.

“Why am I alive? Where was I before I was born? What will happen to me when I die? Whatever well our lives are drawn from, it is deep, wild, mysterious, and unknowable....” Rules for a Knight is many things: a code of ethics; an intimate record of a lifelong quest; a careful recounting of a knight's hardest won lessons, deepest aspirations, and most richly instructive failures; and an artifact, a relic of a father's exquisite love.

Drawing on the ancient teachings of Eastern and Western philosophy and religion, on literature and poetry, and on the great spiritual and political writings of our time, Ethan Hawke has written a parable that-in the story of a young man's journey toward a life of authenticity and meaning-captures the instinctive movement of the heart toward truth and beauty. Rules for a Knight has the appeal of Arthurian legend; the economy of Aesop; and the vitality, intelligence, and risk-taking that could only emanate from Ethan Hawke.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Actor and author Hawke (Ash Wednesday) pens a heartwarming, medieval tale on ethics. Written in an epistolary form, Hawke writes from the perspective of his imagined ancestor Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke, a knight who knows he is about to die in war. Sir Thomas teaches his children the 20 rules of knighthood, using examples from his own life to prove their validity. Each chapter begins with a drawing by Hawke’s wife, Ryan, and a short aphorism. Sir Thomas states that “luck is the residue of design” to explain the importance of dedication. To explain courage, he asserts that “anything that gives light must endure burning.” In addition to the more obvious notions one might instill in a child, Hawke touches upon subjects less-often addressed, such as speech, solitude, and death—“in silence we can sense eternity sleeping inside us.” Hawke’s joust against injustice and fear is an easy and endearing read, perfect for young and old children alike. (Nov.)

From the Publisher

"A guide for living an upright and noble life."
  —The New Yorker

"Hawke (Ash Wednesday) pens a heartwarming, medieval tale on ethics . . . an easy and endearing read, perfect for young and old children alike."
  —Publishers Weekly

"Philosophy lovers will enjoy the Eastern and Western philosophical musings, but everyone will enjoy the touching storyline."

"Hawke's book of wisdom declaring life to be a gift should be pondered."

"Entertaining and insightful."
  —The Buffalo News

"A deliciously digestible read. . . . Read this book. You’ll be reminded of just how powerful simple gestures can be when they’re fueled by passion and purpose."
  —The Free Lance-Star

Library Journal

On a summer's evening in 1483, before the bloody battle that would end his life, Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke writes a letter to his four beloved children, offering guidelines to living an honorable life. This set of a knight's 20 rules were given to Sir Thomas by his grandfather while under his tutelage. Each principle is accompanied by random memories and musings from Sir Thomas to impart the lessons he learned to his family. Academy Award-nominated actor and author Hawke (The Hottest State; Ash Wednesday) wrote this little set of stories in part for his own children, and while the sentiment is sweet, the execution is poor. Numerous blatant historical inaccuracies are peppered throughout. Hawke shoehorns in various Western and Eastern philosophical concepts to try and make them fit, which frequently leads to a complete disconnect between the rule given and the supposedly supporting tale. VERDICT Hawke fans might be interested in obtaining, but this work is disappointing for readers of visionary or medieval tales. [See Prepub Alert, 6/1/15.]—Joy Gunn, Paseo Verde Lib., Henderson, NV

JANUARY 2016 - AudioFile

Here are 20 rules, aimed at a young knight or lady, for living a good and moral life. Alessandro Nivola’s soft, cultured voice delivers the rules, along with stories and examples that illuminate them. On the eve of battle in 1483, a knight writes a long letter of guidance and stories for his children. Listeners may be familiar with the morals and values, which are from Western and Eastern philosophy, but incorporating them into one’s life is more difficult than simply knowing about them. Nivola uses grandfatherly tones—melodious, deep, and enchanting—to draw listeners in. Using lyrical tones, he BECOMES the knight who writes his timeless advice for his sleeping heirs. The rules conclude with a sonorous recitation of “Ballad of the Forty-four Pointed Red Deer,” which is equally didactic. M.B.K. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

If you don't have a woeful countenance already, this knight's tale will slap one on you right quick. It's 1483, and down in Cornwall, a knight is writing a farewell to his children against the possibility that he may fall in battle in a war against the Thane of Cawdor. Not the one whose title King Macbeth usurped 400 years earlier, it would seem—though, given the anachronistic nature of this book, anything's possible. Take, for instance, a moment just a few pages in, when our seasoned and grown-up knight, settling into his yarn, recalls that the knight to whom he apprenticed as a young man began his tutelage with a nice cuppa. That's all very well and good, except that tea was unknown in the Middle Ages; a stickler will tell you that it first turns up a century and a half after the events actor/novelist Hawke (Ash Wednesday, 2002, etc.) recounts. That's either magical realism or sloppiness, both of which this latest effort abounds in. Take the nostrum that Good Sir Knight Senior imparts to Junior: "You are better than no one, and no one is better than you." All very nicely egalitarian, that, but a bit out of step with the elaborate hierarchy of medieval equerry and nobility. And more: "The simple joys are the great ones. Pleasure is not complicated." Tell it to Abelard and Heloise, oh Obi-Wan. Elsewhere Hawke merrily (and again anachronistically) stuffs in a well-known Buddhist tale, the punch line to which is, "I set that boy down hours ago, but I see you are still carrying him." Ah, well. By all appearances, Hawke aspires to write a modern Siddhartha, but what we wind up with is more along the lines of watered-down Mitch Albom—and that's a very weak cup of tea indeed. Just the thing for those who want their New Age nostrums wrapped in medieval kit.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940171327590
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 11/10/2015
Edition description: Unabridged
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