This novel about the Childrens Crusade of the middle ages is heart-wrenching, and exposes the futility of religious fanaticism.
Gabriel lives a meagre existence during the Middle Ages. His family is poor, and lives from hand to mouth. When Gabriel meets Stephan, with his blue eyes and christian fervour, Gabriel believes Stephan’s mission to get to the Holy Land in the name ‘Our Lord’, and to defeat the heathen Saracens.
As the boys travel, they gather more and more children to their cause; orphans, the poor, and the pious. But Stephan is not all that he seems and the success of the mission becomes increasing difficult as they journey across Europe in the depths of winter.
Wilkinson increases the tension and the feeling of impending doom as the story moves from Europe, through the Alps and into the African continent. It is well-written, and the depiction of the lives of these children desperate for hope in a harsh world is heart-breaking.