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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Trail of Fate: Book 2 of the Youngest Templar Series" by Michael P. Spradlin (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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Introduction: Last year introduced me to Tristan and the Youngest Templar series, a historical fantasy adventure story for YA/middle grade audiences. Youngest Templar: A Trail of Fate, came out in October of 2009 and is the second installment in what is to be a trilogy by Michael Spradlin.

Overview: A Trail of Fate, picks up right where Keeper of the Grail leaves off. Tristan has washed ashore in an unknown land. He is a bit disorientated and doesn't know if his fellow travel companions, Robard Hode and Maryam are still alive. Tristan does still keep hold of the sacred Holy Grail and is trying to make his way to England. With this in mind, Tristan heads out in what he hopes is the direction to reach England.

On his travels he runs into a heretical band of Cathars, lead by a young woman named Celia. After learning about the cause that the Cathars are fighting against, Tristan agrees to help them out.

Meanwhile, Sir Hugh is still on Tristan's trail. Hugh has his eyes on the Grail, and will stop at nothing to make sure that he gets what he wants.

Analysis: There are very few historical fantasy series out there that can combine the use of information and action so nicely that readers young and old barely know that what they are reading can actually be teaching them a little something. Michael P. Spradlin does just that in the Youngest Templar Trilogy, and a Trail of Fate continues this trilogy.

A Trail of Fate takes readers this time into France, and focuses on some of the issues that were going on there at the time. Unlike in A Keeper of the Grail, this second book stays in France. In the first book there was a lot of traveling around and the setting never really settled on one area. This time there is plenty of time to create a setting and set a foundation for what is happening in France.

Tristan, our main character and the one who's story is being told, really is growing right in front of the reader's eyes. This second book gives us a little glimpse into a slight crush/romance on Tristan's part. A great addition that really added to the Tristan character. Besides the development of this side of Tristan, readers are shown Tristan's courage and quick thinking in situations. All making him an easy to like main character that can become attached to readers.

On the action front there is plenty of sword fighting, arrow flying, and moments of suspense to add to the moments of character building. There isn't just moments of crash, bang, boom in the sword fighting. Instead real thought is put into the descriptions of the fighting.

The older readers will find this book a page turner, at 250 pages it's a very quick and satisfying read. For the younger readers it's got a great feel and enough to grab their attention.

If you read my first review of Keeper of the Grail (click here ), you'd know I wasn't a big fan of the major cliffhanger ending. Sadly, the same thing happens in A Trail of Fate. It just ends. I still stand by the belief that after this whole series is over these books will be wonderful back to back to back, but to have say a fight scene going on and the book just end, really is unexpected. So if this series has a downfall it's the way the books end.

Hopefully readers won't let that sway them. The Youngest Templar series is really picking up steam and there are plenty of hints throughout this second book as to a building plot, and what might happen in the third and final book. I eagerly await the third book and can't wait to see what is in store for Tristan and all his friends, where Michael Spradlin takes this series, and what new things I might learn in the third book.


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