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Keeper of the Grail: Book 1

Overview

Read Michael Spradlin's posts on the Penguin Blog.

1191 A.D. The orphan Tristan has joined the Knights Templar as a squire, journeying with Richard the Lionheart on his crusade to free the Holy Land from the Saracens. As defeat looms near, Tristan is entrusted with the most sacred of Christian relics, the Holy Grail. He must return it safely to Britain, but he must also keep it secret, because the Grail’s power will drive men to madness, and ...

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2008 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 248 p. Contains: Illustrations. Youngest Templar (Hardback), 1. ... Audience: Children/juvenile. Read more Show Less

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New York, NY 2008 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 248 p. Contains: Frontispiece. Youngest Templar (Hardback), 1. Audience: ... Children/juvenile. Read more Show Less

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New York, NY 2008 Hardcover Edition Unstated New Condition in New jacket Never opened, never used. In excellent condition. Small tear at the top front of the dust jacket. Size: ... 24 cm. 248 pp. Quantity Available: 1. Shipped Weight: Under 1 kilo. Category: Fiction; Knights and knighthood Fiction; ISBN: 0399247637. ISBN/EAN: 9780399247637. Dewey Code: [Fic] 22. Inventory No: 1561006477. Read more Show Less

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New York, NY 2008 Hardcover Edition Unstated New Condition in New jacket Never opened, never used. In excellent condition. Size: 24 cm. 248 pp. Multiple copies available this ... title. Quantity Available: 3. Shipped Weight: Under 1 kilo. Category: Fiction; Knights and knighthood Fiction; ISBN: 0399247637. ISBN/EAN: 9780399247637. Dewey Code: [Fic] 22. Inventory No: 1561006473. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Read Michael Spradlin's posts on the Penguin Blog.

1191 A.D. The orphan Tristan has joined the Knights Templar as a squire, journeying with Richard the Lionheart on his crusade to free the Holy Land from the Saracens. As defeat looms near, Tristan is entrusted with the most sacred of Christian relics, the Holy Grail. He must return it safely to Britain, but he must also keep it secret, because the Grail’s power will drive men to madness, and even his fellow Knights Templar will kill for it.

Tristan teams up with the fiery Robard Hode— returning to his home in Sherwood after serving with the King’s Archers—and Maryam, an equally fierce girl and a member of the dreaded Hashshashin. Together they must escape the Holy Land, dodging bandits, the forces of the Saladin, and unscrupulous knights who will stop at nothing to possess the Grail.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399247637
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/18/2008
  • Series: Youngest Templar Series , #1
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 10.86 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael P. Spradlin is the author of more than a dozen books for children. He grew up in a small town in Michigan not far from the Indiana border. Surrounded by books in his formative years, he grew up loving to read and imagining himself the hero of numerous epic battles. When not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, spending time with his family and worrying over the fact that he really should be writing instead of doing other stuff. He lives in Michigan with his wife Kelly, son Michael, daughter Rachel and two dogs Willow and Apollo.

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Read an Excerpt

1

Though I am called Tristan, I have no true name of my own. It was Brother Tuck who found me on St. Tristan’s Day, nearly fifteen years ago. He is a kind and gentle man, but a deaf—mute, and unable to even write down for me how I came to be here. The abbot, a much sterner sort, tells me that I was found that August night on the steps of the abbey. A few days old at best, hungry and crying, wrapped in a soiled woolen blanket.

I’m told the sound of horses could be heard riding away through the night, but since Brother Tuck was the first to find me, we know not if he saw or even glimpsed the riders. The abbot said that two of the brothers followed the tracks into the woods but soon lost the trail.

He also thinks I must be of noble blood. No peasant could afford to own such horses, and it is unlikely a poor farmer would abandon an infant that might one day grow strong enough to help him work the farm. Nor would any illiterate peasant likely be able to write the note that was neatly tucked into the folds of my blanket. On a simple scrap of rolled parchment, wrapped with red ribbon, it read, “Brothers: We bestow onto you this innocent child. His life threatens many. Remind him that he was loved, but safer away from those who would wish him harm. We will be watching over him until it is time.”

So whoever left the note must consider me safe now that I am nearly fifteen. For as near as anyone at the abbey can tell, no one has ever come here and asked about or “watched over” me in any way. Perhaps my parents, whoever they are, were unable to fulfill that promise.

The monks were always kind to me, but they were Cistercians and believed that one was never too young to work. I earned my keep there. However, I bore them no ill will, for the monks worked just as hard as I did. I lived at St. Alban’s for all of my life, and my earliest memories were not of the names and faces of the monks, but of chores. We were a poor abbey but grew enough crops and raised enough sheep and goats to get by. Our needs were few. There was wood in the surrounding forest to see us through each winter. The gardens provided us with plentiful vegetables, and the fields gave us wheat, which we turned into bread. If there was ever anything else we needed, the brothers traded for it in Dover or one of the nearby villages.

It was a quiet and calm existence, but the work was endless. The garden was my main contribution to the abbey. Brother Tuck and I tended it from planting in the spring to harvest in the fall. Working the hoe through the soil was quiet work, and gave me much time to think. The garden sat in a sunny spot behind the abbey, and once the rainy spring was over, the weather was usually fine and fair.

Our abbey was on the travelers’ road a day’s ride northwest of Dover. There were thirty monks in service there. Built many years ago it rose up out of the surrounding forest like a small wooden castle. It was simple in its design, because Cistercians are not frivolous, believing man is here to serve God, not adorn his buildings in finery.

Still, it was a comfortable place, inviting and welcoming to the few travelers who passed our way. The main hall where the brothers gathered to dine and pray was well lighted by the windows that rose high in the peaks. The surrounding grounds were neat and well tended, for the brothers believed that keeping things orderly kept one’s mind free to focus on God.

Except for the forest around the abbey grounds, and a trip to Dover three years before, I had seen no more of the world—though that was not all I knew of it. The monks offered shelter to travelers along the road to Dover, and from them I heard things. Exciting things happening in far-off places that made me wish for a chance to leave and see them for myself. Some told tales of wonder and adventure, of magnificent battles and exotic places. Recently, most all of the talk was of the Crusade. King Richard, who some called the Lionheart, carried out his war in the Holy Land, and it wasn’t going well. King Richard had been on the throne for almost two years, and had spent most of his time away from England fighting in the Crusades. He was called the Lionheart because he was said to be a ferocious warrior, brave and gallant, and determined to drive the Saladin and his Saracens from the Holy Land.

The Saladin was the leader of the Muslim forces opposing King Richard. He was said to be as courageous and fierce a warrior as the Lionheart, consumed with ridding the Holy Land of Christians. Even those who said that God was on our side conceded that defeating the Saladin would not be easy.

For the monks, the news from the east was of particular interest. To them, the rise of the Saladin was a signal that the end of days was near. Perhaps the Savior would soon come again.

These were my thoughts, on a clear and sunny day, as I worked beside Brother Tuck in the garden. Brother Tuck was a large man, strong and sturdy, with a generous heart. Though he couldn’t speak, he made a soft humming noise while pushing his hoe through the soil, moving to some rhythm only he felt. He could not hear the riders approach, or the sound of horses’ hooves pounding across the hard ground, or the clang of chain mail and sword as the knights reined up at the abbey gate.

Knights wearing the brilliant white tunics with red crosses emblazoned across their chests. The Warrior Monks. The famous Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. Known to all as the Knights Templar.

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty Good

    This book was full of action and keep me wanting to read more and more. I did find it lacking in character description and felt as if you didn't get to know the characters as i would have liked. I would highly suggest this book to others it is a great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2008

    THIS BOOK IS ROCKS!

    I just finished reading it and it was awesome.I highly encourage you to read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read

    I am a teacher and just finished reading this with my 13 year-old son. In fact, my son is re-reading the story because he was too excited during the action-packed story to slow down and absorb everything.

    I like the fact that Spradlin has been vague about several aspects of a normal story. Triston's background is very sketchy, the villians are slow to reveal themselves, there's a lot of ambiguity as to whom is more interested in the young female assasin, Triston or Robard, and the ending leaves you literally on the edge of your seat with questions.

    I think this novel would be a wonderful title to use in teaching reading strategies, especially inference and predicting. And, I would use it to establish a base knowledge of various composition techniques.

    Beyond using the book in the classroom, I would definately recommend students (6th+) to read the book for the sheer enjoyment of reading a great story. Plus, Triston is a boy who believes in hard work, honesty, and loyalty which are character traits that we should encourage all young teens to develop.

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  • Posted March 19, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Exciting series!

    Tristan doesn' know much about his past. He's been living with monks when a group of the Knights Templar request accommodations. He's asked to become a squire for Sir Thomas, a highly respected knight. However, he's also made a powerful enemy in Sir Hugh. After much decision, Tristan agrees to accompany the knights to Dover and from there to the Holy Lands where they will take part in the Crusade with king Richard the Lionhearted.

    Tristan learns how to defend himself as well as some tactical lessons. He's also learned not to say alone often as trouble follows him. He doesn't mind the hard work preparing for the trip. When they arrive in the Holy Land, things change and the battles begin. He learns that practicing and battles are entirely two completely opposite in terms of emotion, danger, and fear.

    In a defensive move, when their fort is almost defeated, Sir Thomas hands Tristan the most powerful object in the world and makes him swear to take it back to England at all costs and above all to trust no one. Everyone wants the Holy Grail. Can Tristan get safety back or will trouble follow him still?

    A great start to a new series that's half historical fiction and half adventure. A fabulous read! The end left me a huge cliff hanger and now I'm anxious to find out what happened! Plus, I love knights and the Holy Grail.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2008

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    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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 20, 2009

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    Posted December 9, 2008

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