Crispin: Cross of Lead (Cripsin #1)
May 3, 2004
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He's spent his thirteen years known simply as Son or Asta's Son for his mother, Asta never called him anything other than 'Son' (remind you of that Dos Equis commerical with 'The Most Interesting Man in the World?). Now, though, with his mother having just died and his father dead his whole life, Asta's Son is an orphan.
After paying the required death tax, he truly has nothing to his name (or lack thereof) even before being falsely accused of a crime and being run out of town to avoid being killed by anyone who might see him. It's during this flight from the only home he's ever know when he is told that he does, in fact, have a real name, one he was given in secret: Crispin.
Declared a 'Wolf's Head' (meaning he's no longer human and can be killed on sight) for the crime he's been accused of, Crispin must avoid everyone he's ever known while on the run. With no real idea where he's going, his only plan is to find a city with lots of people where he won't stand out and find a way to create his new life.
Set in the 14th century, Crispin: Cross of Lead is the first of three books about Cripsin. This first one really introduces who he is and where he comes from (with some interesting and unexpected twists, for sure). There's a lot of history mixed in but not in a way that makes it boring or weighs the story down. The history was an integral part of the plot, from the social structure to the geography to just the way the society worked in the 14th century.
The mixture of characters was really great because they kept the story moving, stayed true to the era (while still being fun, different, and not at all boring), and developed Crispin from where he was at the start to who he was at the end.
It took me a little while to get into the story--to be really invested in it, but it got much more interesting and . . . attention-grabbing after about one third of the book. I am really interested in reading the second book (and the third) to see what happens in it because so much was established in this first book. (Things were also resolved well at the end of the book, though, so that you can read it as a stand-alone book, too.)
While it was an MG/Children's book, some of the word choice made it seem like it fit like it fit better at the top end of that.
(I do think of Jeaniene Frost's series and this series with the name Cripsin, though...)