Book Review: “At the Crossing Places” by Kevin Crossley-Holland

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At the Crossing Places
by Kevin Crossley-Holland

This second book of the putative Arthur Trilogy recounts the next year in Arthur’s life, as the 14-year-old boy becomes the squire to Lord Stephen de Holt, chooses his warhorse, has his first suit of armor made, courts his master’s niece, and prepares to follow Lord Stephen on the Fourth Crusade. The story also involves a murder mystery, a case of blackmail and clergy sex abuse, more complications in young Arthur’s romantic and family life (particularly as he tries to search for his birth-mother), as well as wonderful stories, medieval traditions, developing character tensions, and other adventures.

Meanwhile, in the seeing stone, Arthur continues to watch the story of the King by the same name, as he marries and gathers the Knights of the Round Table around him, and they go out on quests and have their share of triumphs and failures. As Arthur’s Knights are on the cusp of the Quest for the Holy Grail, Arthur de Caldicot finds himself finally on his way to the crusades…and knighthood!

Once again, the second book has some nice maps, poems and songs, cleverly retold Arthurian legends, and the sort of observations about life that a very intelligent, 13th-century adolescent boy of Arthur’s upbringing might make. He’s a character to love and cheer for, in a world more richly colored than most children’s novels can offer (particularly in the area of deftly concealed sexuality). Arthur, innocent that he is, is always the last person to figure out what’s going on when hanky panky is afoot, and he is really getting a hard time from the girl he wants to marry–particularly because the girl he previously wanted to marry hasn’t forgiven him for turning out to be her half-brother!

Now the only question is, when is the third book coming out?