Asta’s son has never known his true name or his father. When his mother dies, he finds himself with only the village priest for a friend and John Aylcliffe, steward of the local manor, as a mortal enemy. When the priest tries to help, he is murdered, but not before telling the boy his given name, Crispin. Puzzled as to why an insignificant child such as he could arouse such rancor in a man as powerful as Aylcliffe, Crispin flees for his life with nothing but his faith.
Frightened and unsure of himself, Crispin seeks helps from an imposing, yet big-hearted minstrel named Bear. Bear has a mysterious past that Crispin tries to piece together while their friendship grows. He teaches Crispin how to survive in the wild forests and rustic towns of 14th century England, how to hide from pursuers and how to discern the character of strangers. Through Bear’s guidance, Crispin changes from a young boy afraid of his own shadow to a youth who defends those weaker than himself.
Avi’s trilogy captures the mindset and culture of medieval England. Although the language reflects the style of the era, it is accessible to young readers and contributes to the charm of the story. Crispin’s adventures test his faith in God, in his fellow man and in himself. An unpredictable plot and an endearing protagonist make this series an engaging “must read”.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.