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Spradlin, Michael P. Keeper of the Grail.

SPRADLIN, Michael P. Keeper of the Grail. (The Youngest Templar, Book One.) Penguin, Putnam. 249p. c2008. 978-0-399-24763-7. $1799. JS*

This is a winner! The Holy Grail, the Knights Templar, even Rosslyn might remind readers of The Da Vinci Code, of course, and Spradlin might be having some fun playing on that familiarity. The setting is 1191. Richard the Lionheart and a young archer from Sherwood Forest named Robard share the story line with the hero and narrator, Tristam. They are in the Holy Land, fighting the Saracens, but also struggling to survive the evil machinations of Sir Hugh, an English knight. Tristam is an orphan, eager to know the details of his heritage. Cistercian monks have lovingly raised him, and as the story begins, Tristam at 15 is invited to accompany Sir Thomas, a Knight Templar, to the Crusades. Sir Thomas and others appear to recognize Tristam, but his true identity is not revealed in this first in the series. What happens, and what is so appealing about the story, is endless action--attacks, escapes, suspense and camaraderie. There's wit throughout, and readers are fully committed to liking Tristam and being excited about his life and his world, so different from our own. The whole Christian-Arab conflict is tamped down, by the way--with the true villains fellow Christians in Tristan's experience, and the introduction of Maryam, an Arab, who by the end of the book has become a sympathetic character, leaving with Tristam (entrusted with the Holy Grail--no, not Mary Magdalene's child) and Robard to sail back to England and safety. We'll see. Terrific adventure, which even younger YAs can follow as they learn something about a totally different world. Claire Rosser, KLIATT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.

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Author:Rosser, Claire
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2008
Words:310
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