Friday, September 4, 2009

Keeper of the Grail-Michael Spradlin

Keeper of the Grail
Michael Spradlin
Penguin, Sep 17 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780142414613

Cistercian monks have raised the orphan Tristan with love, but in 1191 at almost fifteen years old, he is given the choice of accompanying Knight Templar Sir Thomas as he joins the Third Crusade. Tristan agrees to go with the knight to Outreamer in God’s name. Once in the Holy Land, Richard the Lionhearted and Templar Knight Sir Hugh act hostile towards the teen.

In the Holy Land, Tristan participates in the Battle of Acre. However, even at rest he finds Saracens seem to single him out for assassination though Tristan has no idea why they and bandits seek out a nonentity like him. He is fortunate that Robard Hode of Sherwood saves his life from a Saracen assassin Maryam the Maid even as he becomes the bearer of the holiest of relics, which makes him even more of a target from all sides of the dispute.

The first Youngest Templar middle school medieval thriller with hints of fantasy especially the climax is an exciting action-packed tale starring an intriguing young teen protagonist who does not receive a hero’s welcome in the Holy Land from either side of the conflict. The story line is fast-paced while also having obvious ties to the modern day Middle East scenario as well as to Robin Hood and the title artifact. Tweeners will root for Tristan (no commentary as to his name) as he struggles with survival while protecting the relic with his life but also wondering why his alleged allies as much as his adversaries want him dead.

Harriet Klausner

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