Michelle Isenhoff

Trail of Fate (the Youngest Templar, book two), by Michael P. Spradlin, 2009, Book Review

This is the second book in The Youngest Templar series. If you are unfamiliar with the first one, read my review.
Wow!  Michael P. Spradlin knows how to write a cliffhanger! I need to write this quickly and start the next book. It’s sitting here beside me.
Tristin, Maryam and Robard survive book one’s shipwreck, of course, and wash up on the shore of France. There, they become entangled in a conflict involving a local religious sect, the Cathars, and the Catholic Church, which culminates in a standoff high in the Pyrenees Mountains. Tristin also becomes entangled with a mysterious, enchanting young lady who captures his heart. However, his mission remains. He must get the Holy Grail to England. But just as he looks to succeed, the trio is captured. The book ends with unsettling hints about Tristan’s heritage, an unholy alliance between Sir Hugh and the Queen Mother, and the stroke that will kill Maryam. AAHHHGG!
So, the adventure is exciting. How’s the content? Pretty innocent. There are some battle scenes, including killings, led by the teens, and Spradlin goes right up to the edge while still avoiding profanity, but I would not discourage my own kids from this read. It’s high-action and loaded with medieval historical context.
There are a few details that stretch reality. Tristin was raised by monks, then after being a knight’s squire only a year and a half, he emerges this incredible leader that even more experienced men follow. And Angel, the little yellow mutt, is endearing but almost smart enough to be human. Both a bit unbelievable. And, a point I’d discuss with my own kids, Christ and Mohammad are put on equal plane and gifted by the same God to lead their religions (Maryam is Islamic). That doesn’t add up. But overall, Trail of Fate gets the okay. I’d say it’s best for age 10+.
And now, on to book three…

Trail of Fate (the Youngest Templar, book two), by Michael P. Spradlin, 2009, Book Review

11 thoughts on “Trail of Fate (the Youngest Templar, book two), by Michael P. Spradlin, 2009, Book Review

  1. Hi Michelle. A terrific and thoughtful review. Thanks for bringing this series to my attention.

  2. +JMJ+
    I’ve just clicked back from your review of Keeper of the Grail. This series reminds me of The Book of the Lion by Michael Cadnum, which is also about a boy who becomes a squire to a knight who follows King Richard I on the First Crusade. Have you read it, Michelle? =)
    Uncannily enough, it’s also the first book in a trilogy! But I’ve been trying to find the next two books for the past few years, without any luck. =(
    But now I’m a bit concerned that Christ and Mohammed are portrayed as equals. It such a huge anachronism for a story set in the Middle Ages. And even Tristam and Maryam’s “diversity” seems something out of our own time rather the eleventh century. =S One of my personal pet peeves is “wallpaper historicals” that put modern characters in period clothing, and I suspect that the The Youngest Templar trilogy would fit that description. (Incidentally, I avoided Pillars of the Earth, the novel some of your commenters have recommended, after a trusted friend confirmed that it fits the description as well.)

    1. Hi Enbrethiliel,
      No, I haven’t read The Book of the Lion. It sounds very similar. I have not read Pillars of the Earth either, so I can’t comment on that one, but yes, this one would fit the “wallpaper” bill in some respects. Definitely in the religion area it’s very pc. And Maryam is a kick-butt kind of girl reminiscent of an Angelina Jolie character that doesn’t really work with the era. And at times I just roll my eyes at the way this kid works his way around adults, especially those with authority. The armed confrontations work out ridiculously well for him as well.
      Such details do make it feel unrealistic. I wouldn’t call it a GREAT book or even serious historical fiction. Definitely not in the same category as, say, Avi’s MG book Crispin. The historical setting works more to lend it a legendary feel that actually teach anything. But it is fun and adventurous, and I think a lot of guys would enjoy the read. It’s entertaining.
      How are you managing that cool trick of making titles italicized on here???

      1. +JMJ+
        Thanks for your answer, Michelle. It’s very helpful. =)
        Now for your question . . . Italicise anything by writing it like this:
        [i]Title of Book[/i]
        but using “less than” and “greater than” signs rather than the brackets.

  3. I liked the first book you reviewed, and this one sounds equally good. Love it that the author goes out on a limb by putting the Christ and Mohammad on an equal plane and gifted by the same God. That would intrique me. Love books about the Holy Grail. This one sounds very action-packed.

    1. I find that very same issue offensive, but I won’t blow anyone up over it. 🙂 Honestly, if you compare the religions, that makes no sense at all. It was still a fun story though.

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