Orphan of Destiny
Book 3 of the Youngest Templar series
Tristan and his companions—the fiery archer Robard Hode and the assassin maid Maryam—have escaped to England. But tragedy has occurred to Tristan’s beloved abbey while they were on the Third Crusade, and Robard’s home in Sherwood Forest suffers under the rule of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Many obstacles still prevent them from delivering the Holy Grail into safe hands. Tristan must defeat the evil Sir Hugh in one final battle. And he must learn the secret of his birth, a secret Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine are willing to kill to protect!
Orphan of Destiny is the final book in the trilogy. I received a great deal of give and take from readers concerning the cliff hanger endings of the first two books. The percentage of complaints were pretty small compared to the number of supporters and about 90% of the people who complained immediately followed with “When is the next book out?”
I also got a kick out of a reader on Amazon.com who said the book was very well written except for the ending, which was ‘totally a money making gimmick’. You know what, dude? Guilty. Writers want to make a living, sell books and keep readers coming back. Imagine!
So, now that all three books are here will you take the plunge? See what all the fuss is about? I hope so.
A Reading Guide for Orphan of Destiny
This 4-page download is a great resource! An interview with Mike, some info about him and the book, a discussion guide, and a list of projects that span the curriculum, and a list of projects that span the curriculum in addition to Reading: Writing, Art, and History.
The Guide for The Youngest Templar: Orphan of Destiny was created by was created by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a reading specialist and children’s author.
Keeper Of The Grail 2010-2011 MASL Readers Award Nominee Video
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Michael P. Spradlin’s critically acclaimed The Youngest Templar series arrives to a dramatic close with the action-packed Orphan of Destiny, where the intrigue and danger continue as Spradlin brings the Crusader era to life in Tristan’s final, nail-biting adventure!
- John Dorian, International Business Times
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Enjoy an Excerpt
A well-traveled road led directly from the castle into Calais.
“Where to, squire?” Robard asked. His voice was strong and deep over the rushing wind and clatter of hooves. In the moonlight, Maryam clutched him tightly around the waist, her face buried in his shoulder. His relief at having her back and unhurt was evident in his tone and manner.
“Head for the docks. We need to acquire a ship or boat and cross the channel as quickly as we can,” I answered.
“Acquire?” Maryam queried, a teasing tone in her voice.
“I do not welcome another sea voyage, but we cannot walk to England. My trick with the Captain’s sword will not stay the castle door for long.” I dug my heels into the horse’s flank and pulled ahead of my friends. Angel ran before us, leading the way.
Robard and Maryam loved to make sport of my plans. It was their own fault, since they left all the thinking to me. Still, it was hard to blame them for being concerned. I had managed to get us into a number of dangerous situations. Yet, here we were, free again, at least temporarily.
Sir Hugh wasted little time. As the castle receded behind us, the sound of a loud horn cut through the darkness. We reined up and saw men atop the battlements waving torches back and forth. From the town below us, a bell sounded a few moments later and the shouts of men carried on the wind.
“What’s happening?” Maryam asked.
“I don’t know. Sir Hugh has sounded the alarm. The castle must have a way of alerting the village. If there are soldiers or Templars quartered there, we must be doubly careful!” We galloped away, and I feared our pursuers were close at hand. Had they managed to raise the gate?
Within minutes we reached the outskirts of Calais. There were few villagers about at this hour, and only the faintest trace of starlight guided our way.
“Which way?” Robard asked.
“Robard,” I said, exasperated, “we need a boat. I believe boats are kept at or near the ocean.”
“Don’t get testy with me, squire,” Robard muttered. I felt bad momentarily but I was trying to think. Something was telling me to avoid the village.
“Hold,” I said, pulling the reins as my horse skidded to a stop. We had entered on a deserted street, lined by a few simple huts. A pathway between the structures led farther into the heart of the town.
“What’s wrong?” Maryam asked.
“I did not count on Sir Hugh being able to sound a warning. No one here will know exactly what to look for, but they know the castle has raised an alarm. I’m wondering if—” My words were cut off by a whizzing sound, and I cried out as a crossbow bolt thunked into the pommel of my saddle. My horse jumped and bolted forward, and I nearly lost my grip.
“Go!” Robard yelled. He slapped reins and we darted forward, our horses churning up ground as the small huts flew by. Off to our right I could hear shouts of “after them!” and “this way!” I had no idea yet if our pursuers were mounted or on foot, but they were most definitely armed. I understood Robard’s disdain of the crossbow. The distinctive twang of a bowstring and the flight of an arrow from a longbow made noise as it traveled through the air. At least it gave one a fighting chance to dodge or drop to the ground to avoid it. You never heard a crossbow bolt until it appeared, as if by magic, in the center of your chest.
“Stay low,” Robard shouted, bending forward, hugging his mount’s neck. I did the same and could swear I felt the air move as another bolt hummed by where my head had been moments before.
The hard ground turned to cobblestone as we entered Calais proper, and the clatter of hoofbeats thundered through the darkness. Soon, buildings lined both sides of the street and the noise of our escape echoed off the walls. Up ahead, I thought I saw movement and warned Robard to turn.
“LEFT, Robard! LEFT!” I shouted. He steered as I commanded down a side street.We were not getting closer to the docks by this route, and finding a boat seemed unlikely. Our abrupt turn gained us some distance on those following us, but it sounded as if several squads of men were moving through the town in an effort to surround us. I believed we were riding south, which would put us parallel to the coast, but I couldn’t be sure. The streets were narrow and dark, and it was easy to get turned around.
We had nearly reached the southern edge of Calais, and through a break in the buildings I could see the ocean, and regained my bearings.
“Tristan?” Robard said.
“This way!” I gave rein and pulled ahead of him. Angel was barking madly in the dark, and the village dogs took up the chorus. We were making more noise than a regimento of Templars in full-scale battle. I turned my horse toward the ocean. Somewhere ahead, there must be a boat for us.
We darted and weaved through the streets and alleys. I could hear more horses and knew the longer we waited, the better the chances that Sir Hugh would arrive from the castle with even more men. I cursed my stupidity for heading straight to the village. We should have ridden north or south and found a boat along the coast somewhere. My eagerness to get away from him had clouded my judgment.
The moon peeked over the horizon to the northwest. It was late in the year, so it would stay low in the sky, but the extra light was a blessing and a curse.
“Hold,” I said, and we pulled our horses to a stop.
“Why are we stopping?” Maryam asked.
“We need to get off these streets,” I said. “With the moon rising we’ll be seen, so we need to be quiet.” I nudged my horse forward at a walk. “We need to head for the countryside. Find a place where we—”
“No,” Robard said quietly.
“What?” I replied.
“I said no. We’re getting a boat and getting out of this bloody country,” he declared.
“Robard, that is not a good idea,” I explained. “The alarm has been raised; they will be waiting at the docks—”
“Then I’ll shoot them,” he interrupted, shaking his bow at me.
“Robard, maybe Tristan is right—” Maryam said.
“Not tonight.” Robard pointed over his shoulder toward the ocean. “England lies across that water. Home is so close I can almost smell it. I’ll not wait another night. Not another minute. I will kill every King’s Guard with my bare hands if I have to. But we sail tonight.”
The moonlight played across Robard’s face. It had turned to stone, and I could see it would be useless to argue.
My shoulders sagged as exhaustion hit me. I was so tired. My head still ached from being knocked unconscious when we had first been captured. I couldn’t think. Angel growled from a few paces away, her nose working the air, and her head turned to look off toward the way we had come.
“Someone is coming,” Maryam said.
“All right. Let’s skirt the town; avoid the cobblestone streets where possible. We’ll make less noise. We’ll circle around to the docks. Perhaps they are not guarded yet,” I said. But my words held little enthusiasm.
“Excellent,” Robard said.
A few minutes of careful riding later, we rode back into the town, with the channel to our left. We stopped, momentarily, listening. It was strangely quiet. Perhaps we had temporarily eluded those chasing us. Could we have been lucky enough for them to lose our trail? Did they assume we had ridden away to the countryside?
“I don’t hear anything. Do you?” Robard asked.
“Yes. I hear a voice. Telling me over and over that this is a very bad idea.”
Robard snorted in reply. His mind was made up.
We walked the horses a few hundred yards farther into town, and up ahead I could see a single wooden wharf extending out into the harbor, with several small boats tied to it. Farther out, larger vessels bobbed gently at anchor. The waterfront was lined by a row of shops, inns and other buildings. They all were dark this time of night and their emptiness felt wrong. It was too quiet.
“Let’s go the rest of the way on foot,” I suggested. “We can tie the horses here, and if it’s a trap, we may be able to recover them.”
Robard did not disagree. We tied both of them to a nearby post and made our way toward freedom, keeping to the shadows as much as possible.
“Angel, lead,” I said. As always, the little golden dog appeared to know exactly what I needed. She trotted about twenty paces ahead of us, cocking her head left and right, pausing occasionally and sniffing at the ground.
Robard held his bow at the ready, Maryam had drawn her daggers and my short sword rested comfortably in my hand. I could barely breathe as we crept forward, my eyes scanning every nook and cranny, any spot where a man with a crossbow might conceal himself.
I saw nothing.
We waited, keeping the dock in sight, hoping anyone hiding there might grow careless and reveal their presence.
“All clear,” said Robard.
He stepped out of the shadows and crossed the street, the dock only a few paces away. Maryam followed closely, and then it was my turn.
As I ventured into the street, I felt something punch me in my right side. Worse than a punch—a punch would not hurt as much. I looked down at my right hip and was shocked to see a crossbow bolt protruding from it. The pain was instantaneous and immense.
“Beauseant!” I shouted, not knowing why I chose to utter the Templar battle cry. I tried to step forward, to warn Robard and Maryam, but my leg was not working correctly. Angel barked and I heard Maryam’s ululating war cry and Robard’s curse. His bow twanged and someone screamed. Then another cry and the sound of running feet. My vision swirled and I thought for a moment I was back in Acre, with Sir Thomas beside me.
“Sir Thomas commands…” I could not finish, for it hurt even to breathe. I saw Maryam’s flashing daggers and heard a groan of anguish, and I believe someone died right in front of me.
Then I heard a familiar soft humming sound, coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once. I felt warm and strangely comforted by it. Nearby came the sounds of running feet and shouts of angry men. And as the ground rushed up to meet me, my last thought was, Please don’t let me die in France.