The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate by Michael P. Spradlin
|The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate by Michael P. Spradlin|
|Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley|
|Summary: Love, intrigue and violence in a well told tale.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: October 2009|
|Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group|
After his ship is lost in a storm as he is returning to England, Tristan is washed up on some foreign shore, completely lost and with no sign of his companions. When he wakes, he's surrounded by four men and two women, all pointing swords at him. As soon as they talk, he realises he's in France. He explains his situation to Celia, one of the young women, and though cautious of him at first – believing he might possibly be a spy, she ignores his pleas for directions to the nearest port and offers (almost insists) to take him with them.
That night they camp, and what seems like an attack turns out to be his companions, Robard and Maryam attempting to rescue him, not realising these are his new friends. It very nearly goes wrong, as Maryam has Celia with a knife at her throat and Robard has an arrow readied in his bow. When the fighting dies down and peace ensues, Tristan finds himself in conversation with Celia, he finds out she's a Cathar, a group at odds with the church and with King Philip of France.
Tristan second guesses himself about getting involved with the Cathars' struggle, but Robard and Maryam persuade him that it's no concern of his and only the protection of the grail should be concerning him. But soon after they break away from the Cathars, they run into a patrol of Hich Council soldiers on the hunt for Celia and her band. Tristan decides to return to England, but just after they begin their journey back, they come across one of Celia's men, badly wounded, he pleads with Tristran to save Celia. Tristan has to choose, but choosing Celia and the Cathars may well put the grail in jeopardy.
The first couple of chapters of this novel were a real turn off. A very confusing and almost superfluous prologue didn't do anything for me, and the first chapter was all flannel and rhubarb as Tristan found himself on the beach in an almost clichéd wake up scene. I had to force myself to continue through it, but, eventually, I was glad I did.
The novel gets going quite quickly after this as the story is developed and you start to get to grips on the lay of the land. The action in this book would seems like one of the main draws, but I found myself more interested with the growing and quirky relationship between Celia and Tristran; set against the ongoing conflict around them then, this book is drawing on plot themes that are as classic as its backdrop.
On the whole, the writing is solid, but does sometimes suffer from the odd bit of jibber-jabber which seems like little more than a lack of focus or concentration on behalf of the author. Still, it's a great story and a fairly engaging read, and I'm not sure I'd expect the writing to be as tight as I might like in this particular genre. The only other quibble is with the lack of development of sense of place. The choice of the author seems to be to leave as much as possible to the imagination of the reader, and that's fine – I usually prefer books that err on this side of the line. But I thought that even so, I'd have liked a few more in depth visuals to keep me going. These are minor niggles though. To be totally fair, I did really enjoy this book and it totally deserves its four star raiting.
If you like this book, I really would recommend you give Conn Iggulden's Lords of the Bow a try – though this may push this age range a little. Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver would also be a good read.
Thanks to the publishers for sending me this review copy.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Youngest Templar: Trail of Fate by Michael P. Spradlin at Amazon.com.
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