Crispin: At the Edge of the World

After narrowly escaping from the city of Great Wexly, Crispin and Bear are once again on the run. Things turn from bad to worse after Bear is wounded by a man who believes him to be a traitor. The ill-fated duo retreat to the woods, and a pagan hag along with a disfigured child come to the aid of the incapacitated Bear. Though the devoutly catholic Crispin distrusts the unusual benefactors, he accepts their hospitality, and in return, gains a life-long friend.

This is a good adventure story by a master author, but boy is it somber. There is no comic relief, and the protagonists face constant distress (angry mobs, war, pursuit, injuries, lack of food, coercion, and shipwreck). And, there are several deaths, including a key character’s. Crispin even kills to save himself. But, with all the sadness there is also weaved in a beautiful story of unconditional love and devotion. That was enough to redeem the book for me. Though the story of Crispin is a work of fiction, Avi bases the tale on historic 14th century England, a time of extreme Catholicism and political/social upheaval. If planning to read the book, I suggest a discussion of content while including a study of this historical time period. Crispin: At the edge of the world is the second book in a planned trilogy. See my review of the first book: 2003 Newbery winner Crispin, Cross of Lead.

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