The Broken Road by B R Collins

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The Broken Road by B R Collins

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: An absorbing look at one of the children's crusades and an exploration of personal spirituality. Classy book from a classy writer and one for all fans of historical fiction.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: February 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408806495

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Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013

There's going to be a crusade. A boy came to the cathedral and preached. He's going to lead a crusade of children...

Rufus is about to begin his apprenticeship in his father's goldsmith workshop in Cologne. The prospect doesn't thrill him, but what choice is there? And then a boy comes to the city to preach. He wants to lead a crusade of children, believing that their innocence will part the seas and win Jerusalem back without the need for violence. It's a powerful message and Rufus, along with countless other Cologne children and apprentices, find themselves following the charismatic Nick on a doomed journey to the Holy Land.

Exactly 800 years ago, in 1212, two separate groups of children really did set off for the Holy Land on crusade. In The Broken Road, B R Collins has chosen to tell the story of the lesser known journey. She says it's a dream that failed not because of deliberate human evil, but because of the kind of world we live in, because it's hard to go on walking day after day, because the sea doesn't open up for anyone, because, in the end, we're human. This is about as good a summary of this novel and its themes as you're going to get. And it's a wonderful, absorbing read.

Rufus, the central character, has a complicated relationship with everyone, not least God. Desperate to get away from his rigid, disclipinarian father and an equally rigid, prescribed future, it's easy for him to fall under Nick's spell. Nick is enigmatic, otherworldly, and also vulnerable. And for Rufus, Nick is a kind of magnet, attracting his loneliness, his neediness and also his protectiveness. But, as the children's crusade goes on, this pivotal relationship becomes as complicated as all the others for Rufus. And I think, in the end, The Broken Road is more about an individual journey of faith than a communal one. Is God there? What is he for? Does he love us? How can we find him? Rufus comes to a reconciliation eventually, as must we all.

The Broken Road is beautifully-written, as you'd expect from this quality author - not in the least bit anachronistic but accessible to modern readers, and full of medieval flavour. It's a first-class novel and all fans of historical fiction should read it.

Gatty's Tale by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Crusade by Elizabeth Laird also explore the crusades from the points of view of the young. And both are also fantastic reads!

Buy The Broken Road by B R Collins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Broken Road by B R Collins at

Buy The Broken Road by B R Collins at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Broken Road by B R Collins at


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