From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–A glorious and uplifting conclusion to the trilogy. As before, Arthur de Caldicot tells his story, which this time finds the teen on an island off the coast of Venice waiting for a Crusade to begin. He is full of both wonder at his surroundings and the multinational band of men and anxiety over what is expected of him. Arthur is knighted and takes his oath to defend God seriously, but he is conflicted to learn that the Saracens are educated and devout people not unlike the Europeans. At the forefront of his thoughts is Merlin's admonition to keep asking questions. When money and politics wreak havoc with the plans for the Crusade, Arthur becomes disillusioned, and he faces a crisis of faith when the Venetians bring the Crusaders into an internal conflict to siege the city of Zara. Concurrently, Sir Stephen, Arthur's lord, is wounded and must be taken home to England, and because of duty, Arthur takes him and leaves the Crusade. Parallel to Arthur's own quest is that of legendary King Arthur and the Grail knights, whom Arthur watches in his seeing stone. He watches as Camelot is thrown into chaos, and he learns that not all battle ends in glory and that treachery exists even there. In a return home at Easter that is full of symbolism, Arthur finds answers to lifelong questions. Whether readers are familiar with the two previous Arthur sagas or not, they will be gratified by the majestic resolution to the parallel stories of Sir Arthur's coming of age and King Arthur's demise.–Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
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*Starred Review* Gr. 6-9. This third volume in the trilogy that began with The Seeing Stone
(2001) opens with Arthur, Lord Stephen, and thousands of other crusaders camped near Venice, awaiting the building of a fleet of ships and the arrival of money to pay for them. Eventually, their leaders agree to help Venice recapture the Christian city of Zara in exchange for the vessels that will take them to the Holy Land, and Arthur sees horrors that he is powerless to stop. All this is mirrored in the old story of King Arthur, which young Arthur watches unfold at intervals in his magical stone. Just as the promise of Camelot dissolves into treachery, chaos, and death, so the boy's world seems fatally flawed by greed, brutality, and human frailty. Arthur's response to his fellow crusaders' violence and the questions he raises about religion, morality, and war resonate not only in the two worlds of the novel but also in our own. The traditional Arthurian story comes to its inevitable end as Arthur the narrator returns home to England to take up his new life, fully cognizant of a world full of evil but also filled with promise. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved