Monday, June 05, 2006

Green Jasper

Green Jasper
by K.M. Grant, 2006

When I picked up The Blood Red Horse a year ago, I did not know what to expect. I found myself dropped into the world of The Crusades and cheering for three young people caught up in those turbulent times.

Green Jasper continues the story of Will and Gavin De Granville and the heiress, Ellie. Home from the Crusades, Gavin is uneasily settling in as the new lord of the manor. The loss of his arm is difficult to handle. His younger brother, Will, has been gifted a title and lands by King Richard. Although closer to Will from childhood, Ellie has agreed to marry Gavin as they have been betrothed since she was very young. In the middle of the marriage ceremony, she is kidnapped by the vile Constable deScabious. DeScabious is Prince John's man and John is making his move for the throne of England as King Richard has not returned from the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, in Palestine, the dying sultan, Saladin, orders young Kamil to take a message to King Richard. Against his will, he must travel to Europe to find Richard who is a captive in Austria. Richard charges Kamil with a new mission, to take the news that he is still living to the DeGranville brothers as their loyalty to the king is certain.

Loyalty and the bonds of brotherhood between kin and between cultures set the stage for the action that follows. The throne of England and their lives are at risk. As a stranger in Europe, where will Kamil's loyalties lie? Hosanna, the amazing horse trained by Will and briefly owned by Kamil will have a role to play.

Grant richly evokes the times but the history never overwhelms the story. I have truly enjoyed reading these books.

At TLA, I heard K.M. (Katie) Grant speak on a panel that included Garth Nix, Anthony Horowitz, Rick Riordan, Steven Layne and Sherry Shahan. She has a keen wit, explaining that she writes in a converted meat safe in the basement of her cold Victorian home in Glasgow. She had the original meat hooks removed because some days when things were not going well, "they were just too tempting."

She also recounted the amazing story of her Great-great-great-great-great-Uncle Frank's (Francis Townley) head with such flair that hundreds of librarians (this one included) were leaning forward in their seats with eyes wide, hanging on every word. Her Great-great-great-great-great-Uncle Frank was hung, drawn, quartered and beheaded for his role in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

She is turning that story into a novel, How The Hangman Lost His Heart. Grant also regularly writes commentary for The Scotsman and The Sunday Times.

DeGranville Trilogy website

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