At the Crossing Places: The Arthur Trilogy, Book Two

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
October 2002
9 hours 5 minutes
The second thrilling novel in Kevin Crossley-Holland's bestselling Arthur trilogy

Arthur de Caldicot has achieved his dream: He now serves as squire to Lord Stephen of Holt Castle. But this new world opens up fresh visions as well as old concerns. Arthur longs to escape the shadow of his unfeeling father and meet his birth mother. To marry the beautiful Winnie, but maintain his ties with his friend Gatty. And to become a Crusader, with all the questions of might and right involved. 

Just as he so brilliantly did in THE SEEING STONE, Kevin Crossley-Holland weaves Arthurian legend with everyday medieval life in the unforgettable story of one hero's coming of age.
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This was a good sequel, although it definitely dragged on more than the first. There are quite a few interesting conversations and such that happen, the historical setting and context is expanded upon, and the themes of religion and crossing-places continue to drive this series in a positive manner, but not much happens with the actual plot. We kind of put everything on pause and focus on the small things. This isn’t a bad choice, but it definitely isn’t the most engaging one. I don’t think it detracts from the story, though. Speaking of the nature of this book, it’s aptly named, and not just because it’s the middle book in the trilogy. For nearly the entirety of this novel, Arthur is on the cusp of going to take the cross, an event which he believes will be the turning point of his life. He is essentially in a crossing-place between crossing-places, and that’s the point. And even after he does take the cross, he finds out that he isn’t even going to Jerusalem. The journey isn’t the goal, it’s the anticipation, the moment before the storm, where tensions and emotions are most high. The theme of religion is still as strong as ever in this book. Arthur learns about the Jewish faith, and Lord Stephen tells him about how Jesus was a Jew and explains why some christians dislike them, but they should respect their faith nonetheless. In fact, Lord Stephen believes that every faith should be respected (or, at least every faith prominent in that area at that time). Arthur expands on this later in the book when he finally meets a seracen who is a wholly good person. Furthermore, there’s a pervading sense of mercy throughout the book, and how one must be merciful if they’re a christian. Alan, therefore, is not a true christian or a good person in this world because he murdered someone. On the surface it seems like a commentary on christianity and how to be a good christian, but I think Crossley-Holland’s aim is to comment on morality more broadly, and he’s using christianity as a leaping point since that would be the perspective of the historical and geographical world of the time. Before I get into my main gripe with this book, I want to mention Crossley-Holland’s portrayal of women. It’s odd. Perceval just casually assaults a woman and then justifies it by saying his mother told him that it was normal to kiss kind women, or something. It’s bizarre, it comes out of nowhere, and it’s the first and only time he appears in this book. Besides that, it just feels like he doesn’t quite know what to do with the female characters. They all have a character trait, but no real development. I’m interested to see what he does with Gatty in her book, but I’m also more than a little wary now. I could do without the perspective and stories of the various knights of the Round Table. Seeing Arthur-in-the-Stone was fantastic in the first book, and still is in this one, when we ever get to. Instead we’re subjected to random stories about random knights. I understand that Arthur is supposed to learn a lesson from each one of the stories, but we don’t need all these disconnected stories to do that. Crossley-Holland could have spent much more time developing and really honing in on the stories of King Arthur, Guinevere, Morgan le Fay, and perhaps one specific knight like Gawain or Lancelot. That would have been more interesting to me. And I get that these are tales from the medieval legends that we have, I just don’t care. I don’t think that justifies having all the stories that were included here, especially when the whole point of the seeing stone is for Arthur to see his own life mirrored and to learn from the mistakes of his namesake in the stone. And the broad story in the seeing stone isn’t engaging or consistent. The climax is all about the holy grail, but the holy grail was barely mentioned before that. It’s like Crossley-Holland is trying to capitalize on the popularity and collective knowledge that he imagines the audience has about these myths so he doesn’t have to do much heavy lifting. Overall, it was a good and welcome addition to the series, and a good middle book. I am hoping that the third novel fixes some of the issues and overall focuses more heavily on the plot, though. As long as it does those things, I think it will have made this one all the more worth it.

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Kim F

***** 5 STARS This was a amazing book. The app is also amazing. The author had to be be very creative to make this book.5 STARS

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