Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.Squire by Sara Alfageeh, Nadia Shammas
Illustrated by Sara Alfageeh
Published by Quill Tree Books on March 8, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult Fiction
Format: eBook (336 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It's the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program.
It's not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the "greater good" that Bayt-Sajji's military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined.
Aiza will have to choose, once and for all: loyalty to her heart and heritage, or loyalty to the Empire.
Squire is a graphic novel about a young girl named Aiza, who dreams of becoming a knight. Her people are reviled in their country and her only way of becoming a citizen and improving her status is to be recruited as a squire. I loved how this was focused on Aiza as a person looking to better her situation rather than on her being a girl in the military. Women in battle is a totally normal, non-issue in this Middle Eastern inspired fantasy world. I enjoyed going on this journey with Aiza.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the art in Squire. It doesn’t look bad by any means, and I’m certainly no expert. The muted, earth-toned color palatte does suit the setting and the story, but wasn’t very visually interesting to me. I’m also just not a huge fan of this “sketch” style drawing, preferring more bold and rounded lines.
The story in Squire is pretty typical of someone idealizing something then coming to learn the truth and having to face that and figure out whether to comply or fight the system. It’s a good story, but felt pretty cliche. The ending is also extremely rushed. Aiza learns the truth and then it speeds through the big confrontation, then just ends. I really want to know what happens to Aiza and her companions next!