Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
KEEPER OF THE GRAIL is the beginning of a new series by Michael P. Spradlin. Readers might think that an adventure set in 1191 A.D. would be dry, historical reading, but in this case those readers would be totally wrong. Tristan's adventures are anything but dry. Though they may be historical at times, they are packed with one exciting event after another.
An orphan raised by a group of monks, Tristan never knew his parents or anything of his history. Now he is faced with taking his vows and remaining at the monastery forever or finding his true calling elsewhere. The decision is made for him one day with the arrival of a group of men on horseback.
A regiment of the Knights of the Templar come to the monastery seeking a place to rest themselves and their horses. Tristan is sent to the stables to tend to the horses and that task turns his life upside down. One of the knights, Sir Thomas, approaches Tristan with an offer. He has recently lost his personal squire and is in search of a replacement. Seeing how skillfully Tristan handles the horses, he invites the boy to join the regiment.
Although Tristan is reluctant to leave the monks and the only place he has ever called home, he recognizes this as the chance of a lifetime and accepts the position. Suddenly he finds himself headed off with some of the world's most famous knights to fight in the Crusades.
Imagine the excitement of a young boy actually meeting the king, King Richard the Lionheart, and learning that he is about to join him in battle. What follows takes Tristan from England to the Holy Land into a battle to save the city of Acre. There are bloody battles with plenty of flying arrows and clashing broadswords as the knights attempt to defend the King's lands. In the middle of all the fighting, Tristan is shocked to discover he is being given the responsibility of guarding the most valuable item imaginable - the Holy Grail.
THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR series is sure to grab the attention of middle grade and teen readers. They will speed through this first book and be anxiously awaiting the second, due out next fall.