Tag Archives: middle ages in literature

Keeper of the Grail (The Youngest Templar series), by Michael P. Spradlin, 2008, Book Review

Keeper_of_the_GrailIn Keeper of the Grail, Michigan native (yay!) Michael P. Spradlin offers the first installment of what promises to be a fabulous trilogy. I love epic stories, and the Middle Ages is one of my favorite periods of history. Throw in a little mystery, a hint of Robin Hood, a knight and a Crusade and you have the makings of a winner in my opinion.

Young Tristan grew up in a monastery with no idea of his background. When a regiment of Templar knights seeks lodging with the monks, he suddenly finds himself employed as the squire of Sir Thomas, second-in-command. His duties take him to the Holy Land, fighting in the Crusades under King Richard. But when the king’s forces are overrun, Tristan gains an even weightier duty. He must carry the Knights’ greatest secret–the Holy Grail–to safety. But Tristan has made a dangerous enemy. An enemy who seems to know something of Tristan’s past. An enemy who will stop at nothing to steal the Grail.

When I left Tristan, he had just been swept overboard. I can’t leave him there. The story continues in Trail of Fate and Orphan of Destiny. I’ve added both to my must-read list. While The Youngest Templar series isn’t stand out amazing, it’s clean and solidly written. I recommend it to middle readers and anyone else who loves fiction set in the Middle Ages.

Read my reviews of book two, Trail of Fate and book three, Orphan of Destiny.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi, Book Review

crispinCrispin’s mother just died, taking with her any knowledge of his past. In fact, the boy didn’t even learn his name until the priest told him–after the burial. He’d always just been “Asta’s son.” But the priest said his mother could read and write, that she hadn’t always lived as a serf bound to Lord Furnival’s manor. How could this be? And now that she was gone, why did the steward of the manor suddenly want Crispin dead?

Avi, a name that has become synonymous with excellence in children’s literature, has done it again. In Crispin: Cross of Lead, he’s supplied us with an imaginative story, one set in the Middle Ages, that teaches us fabulous lessons as we journey with his hero on a path toward maturity. It’s a story that rightfully captured the Newbery Medal in 2003. One I like better each time I read it.

Born to labor in Lord Furnival’s fields, Crispin has never ventured beyond the borders of the manor. Nor has he ever questioned the will of God. Fleeing for his life forces him to make decisions for the first time. But Crispin doesn’t last long on his own. The first man he comes across forces him into servitude. But one could have a much worse master than Bear, who has secrets of his own. Together, Crispin and Bear forge a friendship that withstands adversity, and Crispin discovers his past–and his soul.

An excellent choice for middle readers ten and up, Crispin has loads of historical context, plenty of “Ah-ha!” moments, and a wonderful ending. I easily give this one five stars.

Kindle edition available in title link.