2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Leaden All The Way Through)

VERDICT: Trash

Laurinda’s Rating: 2/5

Set in medieval England, Crispin: The Cross of Lead is the story of a “peasant” boy discovering that he is so much more. The boy grew up without a name, simply referred to as Asta’s Son. When his mother dies, the local priest tells the kid he was christened Crispin but is killed before he can reveal Crispin’s father. Crispin is declared an outlaw and runs away. Bear, a juggler and revolutionary, finds him and takes him along as he travels to various cities. It is eventually revealed that Crispin is the illegitimate son of a noble, with a cross of lead to prove it. After various adventures, Crispin renounces his noble heritage to save a friend and the prime villain is thrown onto his own soldiers’ weapons and dies. Crispin goes from a nameless, servile ignoramus to a spirited, adventuresome adolescent.

This book was a chore to read. The narration was unevenly paced and pointless descriptions slowed down the whole story. Crispin is a ridiculously annoying character throughout. He’s too stupid to live. Although, intellectually, I can appreciate his growth and development, the process was downright painful.

To me, the more interesting story lines (Bear’s political activities, the gross injustice of traditional feudal society, etc.) are very underdeveloped, besides not actually matching more recent understandings of history in which labor shortage created by the Plague elevated the value and living conditions of commoners. I get that Crispin’s story is the main event, but a larger view of society might have distracted me a bit from his whining and made it easier to finish this sucker.

Kids with a strong interest in medieval history might enjoy this story. Maybe.

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