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Keeper of the Grail: The Youngest Templar Book 1    by Michael P. Spradlin Amazon.com order for
Keeper of the Grail
by Michael P. Spradlin
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2009 (2009)
Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Books full of historical action/adventure are a wonderful way to teach history. Michael P. Spradlin does just that in his series, The Youngest Templar. In order to engage younger readers even more, in the first book of the series, Keeper of the Grail, Spradlin works in familiar legends namely, the Holy Grail and Robin Hood (although Spradlin puts a very different spin on these characters than what we are used to).

As an infant, Tristan was left on the steps of St. Alban's Abbey outside Dover, England. All that he was left with was a blanket and a note alluding to the fact that his existence might be harmful to some. Deaf/mute Brother Tuck found him and the brothers raised him, teaching him reading and math as he grew an education that was not easy to come by.

When Tristan is fifteen, a regiment of Knights Templar stops at the abbey. Tristan incurs the wrath of the Marshal, Sir Hugh, but quickly catches the eye of his second in command, Sir Thomas. The latter asks Tristan to be his squire. Knowing that he should have left the abbey already and that this is his one shot for adventure, Tristan agrees.

First the Knights head for Dover to train and meet with King Richard. Then they set sail for Outremer in The Holy Land. Once there, they are caught in the siege of Acre, and Sir Thomas helps Tristan escape with the Knights Templar's most guarded relic, the Holy Grail. On his way to Tyre, Tristan meets Robard Hode, an expert archer, and together, the two make the dangerous journey through a desert full of bandits and assassins.

There are many books about the Knights Templar, both fiction and non-fiction, but The Youngest Templar is the first series I have seen for younger readers. Spradlin writes a fast-paced, action-packed tale that will keep readers enthralled and completely caught up in the Crusades and Tristan's task. Spradlin also does an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of the time period, something that is not easy to do as most tales from this era come across as too modern.

Keeper of the Grail is a great start to what promises to be an exciting series. The basis in history and legend is an added bonus. Michael P. Spradlin knows how to capture the reader and educate while entertaining.

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