The Badger Knight

Written by Kathryn Erskine
Review by Alana White

Northern England, 1346. Twelve-year-old Adrian wants to follow the men of his village into battle against the Scots, who, it is feared, mean to pour over the border and terrorize the English. Though secretly a fine archer, Adrian is small for his age. He is also, the narrative suggests, albino. This marks him as a devil in the minds of some, and a target for the village bullies.

To prove he is neither “addlepated,” nor useless, Adrian slips off to beat back the enemy. On the way, Adrian learns to see the world in shaded terms of grey rather than in hard black and white. Few people are as bad as they seem—not even the pagan Scots. Adrian must face his own prejudices, too. A valuable message of tolerance is woven through the story once Adrian finally begins his quest. For me, though, it was a story that did not truly begin until about halfway through the book. And while we are often told Adrian is unusual looking (he describes himself as “puny, sickly, and pale as milk”), I felt a niggling disconnect and did not quite believe it. Adrian may have asthma and poor eyesight, but he seems quick on the mark often enough.