Read Keeper of the Grail Online

Authors: Michael P. Spradlin

Tags: #Medieval, #Action & Adventure, #Juvenile Fiction, #Orphans & Foster Homes, #Fiction, #Knights and Knighthood, #Royalty, #Family, #Historical, #Grail, #General, #Middle Ages

Keeper of the Grail

BOOK: Keeper of the Grail
3.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




Michael P. Spradlin



A division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Published by The Penguin Group.


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Copyright © 2008 by Michael Spradlin.

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Spradlin, Michael P.

Keeper of the Grail / by Michael P. Spradlin.

p. cm.—(The youngest Templar; bk.1) Summary: In 1191, fifteen-year-old Tristan, a youth of unknown origins raised in an English abbey, becomes a Templar Knight’s squire during the Third Crusade and soon finds himself on a mission to bring the Holy Grail to safety.

[1. Knights and Knighthood—Fiction.   2. Grail—Fiction.   3. Middle Ages—Fiction.

4. Crusades—Third, 1189–1192—Fiction.]   1. Title.

PZ7.S7645Kee   2008   [Fic]—dc22   2007036143

ISBN: 978-1-1011-5864-7

This book is for my son Michael Patrick Spradlin, Jr. You have made me a rich man in sons.

P. S

Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop

Spy Goddess: To Hawaii with Love

Spy Goddess: The Chase for the Chalice





Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5


Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11


Chapter 12


Chapter 13


Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17


Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25


Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30


Chapter 31


It takes a village to raise a book, and this one would not have been possible without the help, support and dedicated efforts of numerous individuals.

First I thank Timothy Travaglini, my editor, for his patience and friendship, and for believing in the story from the beginning. I also thank my agent, Steven Chudney, for his guidance and advice. To my writer friends Christopher Moore, T. Jefferson Parker, Mary Casanova and Meg Cabot, thanks for the advice, wisdom and encouragement. And for letting me bounce ideas off all of you when you’d probably rather be writing your own books instead of listening to me yammer on.

I’d also like to thank Naomi Williamson and the staff and volunteers who coordinate the fantastic Children’s Literature Festival at the University of Central Missouri each year. They do very important work: bringing authors and children together in a celebration of books and writing. They’ve given me a marvelous opportunity to reach and encourage hundreds of young readers, and I’m humbled and honored to be a part of the event each year.

My family is the world’s greatest support system. My mom has encouraged me my whole life, no matter what I’ve chosen to do, with a smile and a “That’s wonderful, dear!” Thanks, Mom. My sisters Connie and Regina have likely alienated everyone they know by regaling friends, coworkers and strangers on the street with stories of their little brother’s writing exploits. To my knowledge no restraining orders have been filed yet. To the two best kids any dad could ask for, I say thanks to Mick and Rachel. And to my wife, Kelly, the greatest wife in the whole history of wives, with all the love and gratitude I can muster for sticking by this big, dumb Irishman for the last twenty-six years. I love you all.


This time in which we live will one day be called the Dark Ages. What a fitting name. I have done all I can to stand against the darkness, though I still feel it pressing in around me. I had hoped I would find safety here, but that has turned out to be a foolish dream. I have come so far. Not much farther now. Can I bring an end to this?

I am alone now. Sir Thomas sent me from Acre with a few coins, and I’ve kept his sword and ring. I have enough, if I am careful, to see me through this duty, but there may come a day when I must sell the sword and ring.

I miss Sir Thomas. He was kind, and there was always food. The work was hard and full of danger, for what is a Crusade but another word for war? He trained me well and was not overly pious like so many of his fellows.

Now I must decide what path to take. I have traveled far and endured much to fulfill a promise to a doomed knight. Should I continue on to face those who would see me dead for what I possess? In the last few months I have learned much about fate. For Sir Thomas was no ordinary knight. My master and liege, Sir Thomas Leux, served his God as a member of the Knights Templar. And in the simple leather satchel that never leaves my shoulder, I, a mere orphan, an unworthy soul, am now the protector of the Holy Grail, the most sacred relic in all of Christendom.

For centuries legend has said that this simple bowl-shaped chalice caught the blood of Christ as he died upon the cross. And because it once held the blood of the Savior, some believe it to have magical properties. To find it has been the life’s goal of countless men.

I heard some of the Templars say that whoever possesses the Grail will be invincible; their armies cannot be defeated in battle. This is why the knights were so fanatical about keeping it hidden, lest it fall into the hands of the Saladin. Truth be known, I do not think much of these stories. If the Grail really makes one’s army invincible, then why didn’t the Templars carry it into battle and drive the Saladin and his warriors from the field? Perhaps the Saracens have their own sacred relic that cancels out the power of the Grail?

Whatever its legend, even the idea of the Grail is a powerful thing. Though it may or may not be the true cup of Christ, it is a symbol. And in my short life, if I have learned anything, I have learned the power of symbols, from the bright red crosses on the Templars’ tunics, to the crucifix that hangs in the chapel of the abbey. Symbols can make human beings behave in less than honorable ways.

No matter the cost, I must now carry this valuable thing to safety. Sir Thomas considered it my duty.

I consider it my curse.



hough I am called Tristan, I have no true name of my own. It was Brother Tuck who found me on St. Tristan’s Day, nearly fifteen years ago. He is a kind and gentle man, but a deaf-mute, and unable to even write down for me how I came to be here. The abbot, a much sterner sort, tells me that I was found that August night on the steps of the abbey. A few days old at best, hungry and crying, wrapped in a soiled woolen blanket.

I’m told the sound of horses could be heard riding away through the night, but since Brother Tuck was the first to find me, we know not if he saw or even glimpsed the riders. The abbot said that two of the brothers followed the tracks into the woods but soon lost the trail.

He also thinks I must be of noble blood. No peasant could afford to own such horses, and it is unlikely a poor farmer would abandon an infant that might one day grow strong enough to help him work the farm. Nor would any illiterate peasant likely be able to write the note that was neatly tucked into the folds of my blanket. On a simple scrap of rolled parchment, wrapped with red ribbon, it read, “Brothers: We bestow onto you this innocent child. His life threatens many. Remind him that he was loved, but safer away from those who would wish him harm. We will be watching over him until it is time.”

So whoever left the note must consider me safe now that I am nearly fifteen. For as near as anyone at the abbey can tell, no one has ever come here and asked about or “watched over” me in any way. Perhaps my parents, whoever they are, were unable to fulfill that promise.

The monks were always kind to me, but they were Cistercians and believed that one was never too young to work. I earned my keep there. However, I bore them no ill will, for the monks worked just as hard as I did. I lived at St. Alban’s for all of my life, and my earliest memories were not of the names and faces of the monks, but of chores. We were a poor abbey but grew enough crops and raised enough sheep and goats to get by. Our needs were few. There was wood in the surrounding forest to see us through each winter. The gardens provided us with plentiful vegetables, and the fields gave us wheat, which we turned into bread. If there was ever anything else we needed, the brothers traded for it in Dover or one of the nearby villages.

BOOK: Keeper of the Grail
3.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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