The Faerie Queene, Book 1 by Edmund Spenser (1590)


You know, I wish I hadn’t been so scared of epic poetry. This was a delight to read, especially with Roy Maynard’s helpful and witty annotations. I also got to narrate this one stanza by stanza because we were reading it together on the AO forum, and the language was rather intimidating for some.

So anyway, Princess Una is looking for help from the Faerie Queene—there’s this awful dragon terrorizing her kingdom and she needs to bring a champion home with her who can defeat said dragon. She gets the Redcross knight, who isn’t super experienced… nor is he terribly wise… so…

Very quickly the evil wizard Archimago separates them via dirty tricks. Using illusion, he basically convinces Redcross that Una is a whore, and stupid Redcross believes it, and abandons her without a word. Poor Una is like, “Where’d my knight go? I need him to save my kingdom!” So she tries to find him, only gets kidnapped and maliciously ogled aplenty. Meanwhile Redcross crosses paths with the false witch Duessa, who seduces the heck out of him (stupid, stupid, stupid Redcross)…

Anyway, as you can tell by the picture on the cover, after countless shenanigans, Redcross and Una do eventually meet up again, Redcross repents, earns the name of St. George and becomes the patron saint of England, and then manages kill the dragon with the help of heaven.

I highly recommend this book, and am looking forward to… well, whenever I manage to read the second book.


P.S. As evidence to how much I love this story, I retold the epic battle scene between St. George and the dragon to my children, and now sometimes I’ll find them re-enacting it. Yesssss.


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