cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 118-119

Keeper of the Grail (The Youngest Templar, #1)Keeper of the Grail by Michael P. Spradlin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another book hovering around the 2.5 mark. It wasn't bad in places but it wasn't that great. Tristan is a young man raised by monks after being left on the doorstep as a baby. One night a regimento of Templar Knights show up led by Sir Thomas the de facto leader, fair and brave and Sir Hugh, the actual leader who has issues with his temper and is a coward. Hugh takes an almost instant dislike of Tristan going so far to try to hurt him many times during the course of the book.

Tristan becomes Thomas's squire and eventually ends up in the Middle East on a Crusade with the Templars and King Richard the Lionhearted. At one point when the city is overrun by Saladin's soldiers, Thomas knowing the Templars will fail, sends Tristan out of the city with their precious cargo: the Holy Grail. He has to get it back to Rosslyn Church in Scotland (one of the many places that lay claim to the Grail). By himself.

This is one of those things that make you want to scream with YA fiction. No sane person sends a fifteen year old, barely trained, into the wilds of a country where he doesn't know the language with his only protection being 'travel at night.' Adults have to do such stupid things in YA's in order to make it so the teens have the bulk of the action.

Along the way back to England, he picks up Robard (i.e. Robin Hood) as the young man is mustering out of the army having done his time. They are nearly killed by one of Saladin's assassins, Maryam (yes, Maid Marion in one of the more original takes I've ever seen of her).

Here's another hard piece to deal with doing historicals. The stories tend to be heavy on men or women who aren't what they seem sometimes almost unrealistically so given how regimented and restricted females were back then. Without her, however, Tristan and Robard don't stand a chance.

On one hand the characters are likable enough. On the other hand, Tristan is naive to the point of being rather dumb. Half the trouble he gets into is because he makes stupid choices. Then again he's a teenager so...judgment isn't there.

Tristan is also 'special'. I'm assuming he's the bastard child of a royal or something but his past is whispered about a lot.

There are some major battles missing in this. I'm less bothered by them than some readers. It didn't seem to fit the narrative.

What did bother me is the ending. I LOATHE cliffhangers where not one plotline in book one is resolved. And this one has a major cliffhanger with a life in the balance (granted you figure it's a life that can't be lost so there tension isn't there). This sort of cliffhanger has the opposite affect on me. It doesn't make me wait with baited breath for the next book. It makes me not want to bother.

It's not a bad book but it's not great either.

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Princeless Volume 3: The Pirate PrincessPrinceless Volume 3: The Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yet another closer to 2.5 stars than 3. Part of the problem is I picked this up from the library and I could tell it wasn't book one. I probably should have gone looking for books 1 &2 but eh it was short so I dove in. I like what this is trying to do a lot. The idea of independent heroines is a great idea and this skews very young so it's nice they have something there for them. The art is brightly colored and very nice so it has that working for it.

However, there is rather flat about the characters and off putting about the dialogue. Raven, a pirate princess gets rescued by Adrienne and Bedelia and immediately joins up with them no questions asked. All Raven really wants is her inheritance back. Her two brothers have someone conned their father into imprisoning Raven and giving his pirate ships to them. Raven, as a marksman with a bow (they call her the black arrow) knows she can get these ships back.

But here is where I have problems. Twice they beat up scads of men without much effort. Yes okay I know they're heroines but unless they have some magic I don't know about two young teens against skilled pirates and other warriors is a bit much (I did not have a problem with Adrienne facing off with a lone knight. That's more than feasible).

I could live with the over the top action scene stuff. What really got under my skin was frankly Raven and Adrienne are mean to each other. They're like bitchy alpha girls, you know the type. The stereotypic head cheerleader type more interested in tearing someone down than helping and we get this bad behavior here over clothes (eye roll) or who's the better more pampered princess (vs a scuzzy pirate princess). It seems to defeat the whole idea of this comic.

And at the end I have to wonder about Bedelia and if she is genetically male (or like I said coming in late, it could be magic or something I missed entirely).

If the library got more I'd probably look at it. I think it's not a bad story for young girls, bullcrap about clothes, stealing stuff from one another and other bad behaviors aside. On the other hand I wouldn't be running out and adding it to my collection either which is a shame because I really like the idea of it.

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Tags: graphic novel, historical fiction, young adult

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