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18 January 2008 @ 01:32 pm
CRISPIN: AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Avi (4.5 stars)  
"Blessed Saint Giles, it's hard to be a man!"

CRISPIN: AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD follows sequel on the heels of its predecessor CRISPIN: THE CROSS OF LEAD, winner of the 2003 Newbery Award, New York Times bestseller, and Avi's 50th book. While certainly readable as a standalone novel, the sequel picks up right where the first one left off, without missing a beat.

Set near the death of King Edward and the 100 Years War with France, Crispin and Bear have just escaped the gates of Great Wexly, Britain, the city where they were almost killed. Bear, a red-bearded, hat-jangling juggler and Crispin's makeshift father, has for years served as a spy for John Ball's rebel brotherhood. That life, though, is no more. His cover is blown, his alliances shot to pieces, and he is on the run for his life. Crispin, too, has problems of his own. Formerly hunted as a Wolf's Head, he has discovered his illegitimate sonship to Lord Furnival, a knight of the realm, and relinquished his rights to that sonship just as quickly in hopes of saving Bear's life. Now, they fear their ransomed freedom won't last them long at all.

So they run.

Their flight leads them into the hands of unknowing rebels, the deep forest and strange religious worship, the frightful road to the South and freedom, the harrowing leftovers of war-ravaged cities, the dangers of the open sea, and whatever lies in wait at the edge of the world. Their flight crosses paths with an outcast girl named Troth, who was born with a disfigured face and the reputation that came with it. She has been called evil, cursed, and worse, and longs for the time she won't have to cover her face with her hair. She hopes that Bear's words hold truth, that "Perhaps men who've seen a bigger world have bigger hearts." Crispin's pursuit of manhood, Bear's search for absolution, and Troths want of acceptance lie firmly at the thematic center of this novel, with the three of them learning what love and family might mean, even in the strangest of circumstances.

CRISPIN: AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is an adventurous tale of flight and pursuit of spiritual forgiveness. The story is wholly entertaining, and Avi's wordcraft is again top-notch. With its cinematic and vivid English countryside, from the dark forests to the vast ocean and towering cliffs, this story leaves us hoping that we just might find Avi someday writing another sequel.

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