The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate
Michael P. Spradlin
Putnam Juvenile (2009)
ISBN 9780399247644
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 11) for Reader Views (9/09)

 

“The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate” by Michael P. Spradlin is the story of Tristan, a kind and hard-working orphan raised by monks, who is offered the opportunity to begin a new life when a group of Templar knights bound for the Crusades stops at the abbey for the night.  As the squire to Sir Thomas, the leader of the band, Tristan finds himself in the midst of battle.  When Acre falls, and Sir Thomas with it, Tristan is entrusted with the Holy Grail and his mission is to bring it safely back to England.  Lucky for Tristan, he has his friends Robard Hode, a king’s archer, and Maryam, a Saracen assassin.  As the brave adventurers travel through rough terrain with danger hot on their heels, this is a very exciting book.  Can the trio meet the challenges and make it to safety?  Or will they be caught by the despicable Sir Hugh who just wants the Grail for his own selfish reasons?

This book, the second in the series, opens when Tristan and his friends are shipwrecked and separated off the coast of France, things are not looking up.  Thankfully, they are reunited when they are rescued by a band of Cathars (a religious group at odds with the Church).  After learning of the High Counsel and his hatred of the Cathars, Tristan must enter a race against time to warn the Cathars of a pending attack on their mountain citadel.  Can Tristan warn them in time?  When it is time for Tristan to leave the Cathars, he is sad but his attention will soon be focused on new challenges.

Sir Thomas made a good choice choosing Tristan for his squire because he is smart, resourceful, determined, loyal, and has the makings of a wise Templar.  Not just anyone would be able to get the Grail to its destination.  In his quest to bring the Grail to safety, Tristan, as its keeper, must dodge many dangers such as the vile Sir Hugh who repeatedly tries to steal the Grail.  His loyalty to his friends is absolute and he is rewarded with equal loyalty back from his friends.  When attacked by king’s guards, Tristan tries to warn his friends, but is prevented from doing so by a hand over his mouth.  His only chance of warning his friends comes out as a groan.  Will his friends understand?  Will the guard kill Tristan?

This book was set in the time of the Third Crusades in the year 1191.  The knights Templar really existed as did most of the places and people such as the Cathars and Saracens.  I have seen some other reviews by people that know a lot more than I do about history, and they also said that this book was a great source of historical information.

I highly recommend “The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate” to people who like action, adventure and historical fiction.  Totally full of action and adventure, this was a real page turner that I am not going to forget.  It sweeps you in from the very first page and you won’t want to put it down until you finish it.  There were many battles and semi-bloody scenes, but there was nothing that most parents would object to.  This is the second book in a series but you could just pick it up and read it without having read the first.  The book left off at a cliff hanger and I can’t wait for the next one!

 

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