The Last Letter of
Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke
(e-reader edition) Knopf 2015
[Excerpts from Editor’s notes]…
This letter was discovered …in the basement of our family farm.
How it came to be there and its authenticity have been sources of much inconclusive debate. Our family does …lay claim to a direct lineage to the noble Hawkes of Cornwall and Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke was killed at the Battle of Slaughter Bridge in the winter of 1483. The letter …had been severely damaged [and] pieced together, adapted and reconstructed by me, Ethan Hawke …
Who hasn’t daydreamed about discovering some fabulous ancestor hanging out in your family tree?
Ethan Hawke has imagined the last days of a noble warrior; Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke. This man of integrity and honor did in fact exist; whether he is related to the author is doubtful.
The story begins with Sir Thomas at Cornwall facing almost certain death in battle the next day. In these final hours, he thinks of his children. They are young and unprepared for the future without him. He tells them that their Grandfather prepared a rubric for him when he was a young aspiring knight and that he feels compelled “to pass on to you Grandfather’s list of ‘Rules’.”
Sir Thomas begins his letter with a description of his own childhood. He describes a life out-of-control until one day he realizes, on his own at age 17, that he needs guidance. “I decided to seek out the wisest man I could find and ask him to tell me how to live…The first thing I was given was a small handwritten list entitled ‘Rules for a Knight’.”
The letter is broken up into these 20 rules; each followed by a parable from his own experience on that particular virtue.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. In a way it reminded me of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Aesop and Son fables. (That’s a 1960s cartoon show.)
I have little knowledge of medieval life so I can’t spot gaffes in the story. Our hero, Sir Thomas, can wear a Timex watch for all I care. But it was obvious to me that the author pulled his thoughts from a myriad of traditional self-help sources and other popular stories to create the medieval version of Chicken Soup for Knights.
This adorable little book is a family work; Ethan’s wife, Ryan did all the cute b&w illustrations. I believe the book would be best read to young children together with their parents.
In my perfect vision of quality family time, 20 star lit nights are spent reading and sharing chapters around a campfire with cocoa and marshmallows.