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Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Release Date: 9/18/2008
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About the Book: Tristan is an orphan who has been raised in the monastery that he was left at as a baby. When the Knights Templar stop for the night, Sir Thomas offers Tristan a position as his squire. Tristan joins the Knights as they first prepare for battle and then ship off to fight in the crusades. Sir Thomas entrusts Tristan with a delicate and holy artifact and it's up to Tristan to make sure it remains safe.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I'll admit, I first heard about this book several years ago when the author was at our local children's lit fest. I thought there was no way a book about the Knights Templar would work for young readers. Then Keeper of the Grail was nominated for the Truman award, which is our state book award for grades 6-8, so I knew I had to read it. And I was very surprised! Not only does a book about the Knights Templar actually work for this age group, it's a ton of fun!
The chapters are fairly sort and most, if not all, end on a cliffhanger which keeps the reader wanting more. I would suggest this one as a good classroom read aloud-I think it would really engage a classroom and has great historical tie-ins. Part of the story is about Tristan's training, part about the Crusades, and part about Tristan trying to make it back to England. What really made the book for me though was the supporting characters. The author adds a new twist on the story of Robin Hood and Maid Marion, which is very unique!
Although Tristan is around fifteen in the series, the book works well for a tween audience-I'd suggest fifth grade and up. But just because it's more of a middle grade book doesn't mean teens won't enjoy it! I think it has a good wide appeal. My only complaint is that the ending is a cliffhanger, and not even a very good one-the story just stops in the middle!! Readers will be eager to their hands on the next two volumes!
Book Pairings: The Ranger's Apprentice Series by John Flanagan, Hawksmaid by Kathryn Lasky for another unique take on Robin Hood and Maid Marion
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from copy checked out from public library