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Crispin Series by Avi- 3 stars!



Today's Tea Choice: Pure Leaf Unsweetened Ice Tea

(it's very hot here in SC!)


Trigger Warnings: gore, animal violence, war violence, cruelty, survivor's guilt.


Genre: Middle grade historical fiction

Pages: 262 (book 1)


Summary(goodreads.com):

"Asta's Son" is all he's ever been called. The lack of a name is appropriate, because he and his mother are but poor peasants in 14th century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less - no home, no family, or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name - Crispin - and his mother's cross of lead.





My Review


Over the last six months, Avi's books have truly captivated me, and I'm sure you will see more of his work on this blog, especially in the historical fiction section! Crispin is a great series that shows the truly brutal ways of Medieval England and how it was "everyone for themselves." With this series, there were parts that kept my attention, but the last two books were disappointing.


Positives:


Setting: As with all Avi books, this is another great example of master setting usage. The reader is instantly transported into this time period using sensory details, such as smells, along with sounds and great imagery. Any author just starting out should check out his work, especially in historical fiction. It still amazes me how people survived back in those times.



Characters: Readers instantly connect with Crispin and cheer him on throughout the series, especially as he breaks out of a servitude role as a vassal. In book 1, we learn about The Lord, ruler over that part of England, and he is a cruel man who cares about nothing except power and controlling his people. Because Crispin breaks this vassal role, he becomes a fugitive, which added a lot of good tension to the plot! As the plot progresses into the next book, Crispin's arc rises to one who wants to know more and educate himself about the world and other people. We see this with Aude, a child who was cast out of her village because of a cleft pallet and her pagan worship. Bear is an interesting character, and he was one of my favorites! I believe he represents the duel sides to life, just like his jester hat, and he even mentions his two sided personality. He was very loving and caring with Crispin and then other times he was cruel. Throughout the plot, he learns to become a paternal figure for the young boy and acts as the father figure neither one of them had.



Themes: The novels show how Christianity was such a big part of the villagers lives, but they were terrified of God and Lord Furnival. Even though Crispin never committed the crime in book 1 and the villagers know this, it shows how religion and power prevented them from thinking clearly. I was also intrigued when Crispin believes he is abandoned by God but never fully gives up his faith by praying to Saint Giles when needed.


While the first book was my favorite, the last two seemed misguided in plot.


Negatives


There is a major reveal in book one that could've changed the direction of Crispin's life. However, once this plot point is wrapped up, I was wondering about the focal point for the next two novels, since Crispin just wanders England in search of something better, only to come across worse situations. Also, keep in mind this book is about Medieval England, one of the most brutal time periods in our history, so if you're sensitive to gore or violence, I recommend avoiding this series. I found the last book to be pointless, and I hate to say this but I kept wondering about the plot's focal point again. While I won't reveal anything, the ending to this series was way too open, leaving the reader wanting a solid conclusion.



Authors can learn: the importance of quality setting detail, character arcs, and the importance of research with historical settings


Readers Will Love This: for historical accuracy, and tense plot! If you enjoyed Game of Thrones or other books about controlling kingdoms, you'll enjoy this.


I give this series 3 stars.



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