The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail
Michael P. Spradlin
Tristan has only known life in the monastery where he was found as an infant. Although he was raised by monks, he has never had the desire to become one, so when a group of Knights Templar stops there on their way to fight in the Third Crusade, he accepts the offer to become a squire to one of the leaders, Sir Thomas. Unfortunately he also makes an enemy of the other leader, Sir Hugh.
When they reach the Holy Land, Tristan soon discovers that fighting and killing are not much fun, and unfortunately there is plenty of both. When Acre is attacked and it is apparent that it will fall to the enemy, Sir Thomas entrusts Tristan with the greatest treasure of Christendom – the Holy Grail and tells him to take it to a church in Scotland. Tristan must make his way through the Saracens, past Sir Hugh and hope to get safely out of the Holy Land. He’ll find a couple of companions along the way, and encounter more trouble than he ever bargained for.
I didn’t find Keeper of the Grail to be great historical fiction, but it was fun to read and I think it will be popular to many of my boys. It reads like many of the Dan Brown like adult adventure novels, but without so much explanation about every facet of the story. While I was glad about this last part, I do wish there were a little more explanation about the Crusades, because I fear that many of the students who are going to attempt this novel will know nothing about them. I’m a big fan of authors’ notes either at the beginning or ending of a novel, explaining the historical setting of the novel.
I found the characters of Tristan, Robard, and Maryam to be likable but I thought Sir Thomas and Sir Hugh were fairly one-dimensional characters. This is the first book in a series, and the second book is already out.