October 23, 2006

The Second Tale of Crispin

Avi's Crispin is back. In Crispin: The Cross of Lead, the 2003 award-winning beginning to his trilogy, 13-year-old Crispin, living the rough life of a nameless orphan in the 14th century, is reviled and hated. Unnamed, he is called 'Asta's son,' and his mother seems to both love and hate him. When she dies, he is required to give up his only ox as a death tax for his mother, leaving him both penniless and without means to work. When he is falsely accused of theft, he must run for his life, bearing only the lead cross the village priest has given him, with words inscribed in the soft metal back. Asta's son learns that he's not just a nameless orphan, but that he is the illegitimate son of a knight, but this knowledge does not save him from imprisonment. He's meets with a big man named Bear, a juggler who he is not sure is friend or foe, but, in return for his freedom, Crispin gives up his lineage so that they can both go free.

In Crispin: At the Edge of the World, Bear and Crispin are free and happy, though their happiness is short-lived. Bear is a wanted man, and when he is injured, Crispin seeks shelter for them both in the forest hovel of a crone and her cleft-palated apprentice, who is learning herbology. Crispin is horrified that they are pagans, but he fears for Bear's life, and would do anything to save it. He tries hard to be a man, and make a man's decisions, but he fears that each new choice is wrong. Despite war and religion, Crispin learns that he would do anything to save his family, as he confronts what he fears is the edge of the world.

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