Crispin: The Cross of Lead
He is a 13-year-old boy living in 14th century England, a time when life was hard for most people. He's less than a serf, working the land for people who are his betters and totally dependent upon them. He's really a nothing. He doesn't know why, but he and his mother have always been outcasts in their little village, and everybody seems to hate them. In fact, he is so despised that he doesn't even have a name --- he's just "Asta's son."
The village he lives in is owned entirely by Lord Furnival, who is always gone fighting wars for the king. So his steward, John Aycliffe, manages all Furnival's property, which includes the lives of everybody in the village. And Aycliffe seems to hate Asta's son even more than the villagers do. When Asta dies, her son's life becomes more unbearable than ever. Aycliffe declares that Asta's son must give his only ox to Lord Furnival's manor as a death tax for his mother. This means that the boy can't work the land for his meager livelihood. Then Aycliffe accuses Asta's son of stealing and declares him a wolf's head. This means that anybody who meets the boy may kill him on sight, since a wolf's head is not considered a human being.
The boy's only friend is Father Quinel. He knows things about Asta's son that the boy, himself, doesn't know. For example, he knows about the boy's father, and he says that Asta's son was christened with the name Crispin, even though his mother had kept that a secret. Father Quinel gives Crispin the lead cross that belonged to Asta and promises that he will tell him all about his father. But when he tries to help Crispin escape from the village, things don't go quite as they planned.
Crispin barely escapes, running for his life, with nothing but the cross and the knowledge that he has a real name. The cross has something written on it by Asta but Crispin can't read, and he's astonished to learn that his mother could. Does the writing somehow explain why his mother seemed to both love him and hate him? As Crispin flees his mind is filled with many questions about why he's been falsely accused by Aycliffe, why the people want him dead, and why he and his mother were so despised.
Eventually Crispin meets a giant juggler and jester named Bear, who befriends him, but Crispin isn't really sure whether Bear is a friend or foe. He doesn't know if there's anyone that he can trust. Will Crispin ever become a free man? Read his exciting story and discover the secrets about the life of the boy named Crispin.
Reviewed by Tamara Penny on April 29, 2002
Crispin: The Cross of Lead
- Publication Date: April 29, 2002
- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
- ISBN-10: 0786808284
- ISBN-13: 9780786808281