1. The language is extremely approachable.
Translator Sarah Roche-Mahdi stays true to the original Old French, but that doesn’t mean her translation sounds stodgy. The text is often funny or informal, as characters suggest things like “Let’s hit the road.” If old books aren’t your thing, this romance will sound refreshingly modern.
2. The narrator is one of the funniest you’ll find in literature.
Narrators who spend a couple lines talking about the value of paying poets are reasonably common in medieval romances. Narrators who spend a couple hundred lines on a mass tirade against people who don’t probably appreciate and reimburse artists are rarer. This one will also point out that all the “good” nobility in the story were such generous folk, who knew when to welcome minstrels.
3. The story tackles what we might consider “modern” issues of sex, gender, and identity.
Silence is the story of a girl who is secretly raised as a boy because the king has decreed that women can no longer inherit, and her parents want her to have their estate after they die. Silence wrestles with her identity throughout the story, knowing she has the body of a woman but recognizing that she acts like a man and enjoys playing a male role in society. Nature and Nurture get into some heated arguments over what makes someone’s gender.
4. But there are still all the cool things you want in a romance.
Beautiful maidens, quests, traveling jongleurs, dragons. If you want it in a romance or a fantasy story, you’ll probably find it in Silence.
5. Even King Arthur lore shows up.
Merlin is a wild little trickster in this romance. He shows up only at the end, but King Arthur enthusiasts will find it worth the wait to get to his scenes.