Orphan of Destiny by Michael Spradlin YA fantasy book reviewsOrphan of Destiny by Michael Spradlin fantasy book reviewsOrphan of Destiny by Michael Spradlin

Believe it or not, I started reading this trilogy in 2010, and have only just managed to settle down with the final instalment. As such, my memories of the first two books, Keeper of the Grail and Trail of Fate, were a little fuzzy, though I did recall the general gist of the plot.

Tristan is a young Templar squire who has been charged by his master to find the Holy Grail and take it to a place of safety in Scotland. Having teamed up with Robard Hode (a young Englishman) and Maryam (an Arab assassin), he escapes the cliff-hanger of the previous book and finds himself back on English shores within the first few chapters.

From there the travellers must journey to Rosslyn Chapel, though not before Robard returns home to visit his family. As you might have guessed from their names, Robard and Maryam are variations of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, and a large chunk of Orphan of Destiny (2010) has nothing to do with the Holy Grail at all, but rather to lay the seeds of the Robin Hood legend — specifically his feud with the Sheriff of Nottingham. As such, don’t be surprised when Friar Tuck, Little John, Will Scarlet and Allan Dale show up.

But the story has plenty of other twists and turns, including (as the title would suggest) a long-simmering secret concerning Tristan’s paternity. Michael Spradlin pays careful attention to details when it comes to his 12th century setting, and Tristan makes for a likeable protagonist: earnest without being too naïve, and good-hearted without being too sanctimonious. Robard can be a little annoying as someone who constantly runs headfirst into danger without considering his own safety, but Maryam as an Eastern assassin is an interesting take on the traditional character.

Sir Hugh doesn’t make for a particular compelling villain, but on the whole THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR trilogy makes for a fun read: historical detail, Grail lore, a new perspective on Robin Hood, and plenty of chases, escapes, rescues and fights.

Published in 2010. Tristan and his companions have finally reached England with the Holy Grail. But his job of protecting the Grail is not over yet. For when they return, they find that much has changed for the worse in their country. Tristan’s abbey has been destroyed, and Sherwood Forest suffers under the terrible reign of the Sheriff of Nottingham. As Tristan and his friends journey through England to deliver their precious cargo to the Templars, they must band together to navigate obstacles and fight one final difficult battle – and in the process, Tristan will also learn the fate of his own life. A fate that many would kill to keep secret.


  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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