Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Recommended for: Ages 12 and up
Rating: PG (for violence)
Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote's fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers' imaginations for nearly four hundred years.
This is a great classic, which is amusing and interesting. I enjoyed reading this story very much.
The story was written in a way that was easy to follow and you got to know the characters. It was different from the way most classics are written. It gives you an idea of what the minor characters are thinking when they see Don Quixote. It is also good at describing what is going on. I think that it is a translation, so there are probably different versions.
The story is set in Spain many years after the Age of Chivalry has ended. It never says what year it is, but Don Quixote uses his grandfather's armor and there are muskets. There wasn't anything spectacular about the setting since the castles were really inns and the giants were really windmills or are they are "just enchanted" so that they look like that. It is mentioned that there are cork trees, which I know grow in that area.
The story is of Don Quixote trying to bring back the Age of Chivalry by becoming a knight-errant, by helping princesses and doing other heroic deeds. There were several minor characters that they came across that had cliche love stories, one of them being that a girl wasn't allowed to marry her lover because he was poor. Other than that, I liked the plot. Even though there wasn't really a villain (except the "enchanter" that's out to get him) and the characters wandered around, there was plenty of tension. It is a comedy about a man who seems sane except for when it comes to being a knight. It has a very conclusive and a sad ending. The ending was good, though.
The characters are unique and interesting. They all have their motives that drive them to do what they do. Don Quixote tries to be like the characters from his chivalry books. Once he even can't sleep because he is thinking of his lady love, the famous Dulcinea del Toboso, just like the heroes from his books. He takes knighthood very seriously and even has a squire, Sancho Panza. Sancho was promised an to be given an island to be governor of. He likes food, comfort, dislikes danger, and uses many proverbs, even if they have nothing to do with what anybody is saying. He is loyal and he loves his donkey. There are then Don Quixote's friends who try to get him back to his niece and housekeeper to try to cure him. There are minor characters that humor them and some that use them for amusement.
This is a good story and I do recommend it as a good classic, and an amusing story about trying to be a knight after the Age of Chivalry.