Graphic Novel Review: Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas
Posted on November 10, 2022 at 3:42 am by Gene Ambaum
Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas. Quill Tree Books, 2022. 9780062945853. 336pp.
Aiza is an Ornu girl who lives in a camp in a conquered territory with her family. When the Emir plans to expand the Bayt-Sajji military, she wants to join up. If she can become a Squire and eventually a Knight, she’ll be allowed to apply for citizenship and all its benefits. And she wants to be a hero. Her parents are unsupportive but eventually let her choose her own path, though they ask her to hide the fact that she’s Ornu.
Her adventure is, of course, not quite what she’d hope for. The days are long, the training grueling, and those who can’t make the cut are sent off to the front lines (where they likely don’t live long). Aiza’s determination makes her stand out from the other recruits, though there are some who think she doesn’t belong among them. After she fails a few tests she’s given one last chance, and finds help in the form of a former solder who helps her train at night, and who teaches her that her small size can be a strength. (Cue training montage sequence. And it’s pretty great.) But as she starts to find her footing and succeed, it also becomes clear that maybe she doesn’t want to be part of what a conquering military is up to, and that maybe all that violence isn’t quite as heroic as she’d believed.
Alfageeh’s art is just amazing, and I particularly loved the way she used panels in the book — it feels like she’s been influence by manga, European comics, and American comics, too, and combines the best of each. Her colors and illustrations themselves are epic, too.