by Arthur Crossley-Holland
New York : Scholastic, 2002.
The year is 1199. Thirteen-year-old Arthur de Caldicot longs to be a knight, but his father, Lord John, frustratingly will not tell Arthur his plans for his son's future. Arthur has carved out a little space for himself to write a bit each day as the year winds down towards the new century - a crossing-place, as Lord John's friend Merlin calls it. Merlin seems to take a special interest in Arthur, giving him an obsidian stone but not telling him what it is for. Arthur must discover its purpose for himself.
The small detail that 1301 rather than 1300 would really be the new century was a bit irritating for me, but I liked the theme of change, newness, and renewal that is made clear by the time frame. This is seen in Arthur himself, as well, reaching an age of endings and beginnings as he enters his teen years and discovers a lot about himself. There are definite parallels that those even a little familiar with Arthurian legend will put together much more quickly than our protagonist, but clearly divergent points as well. I'm intrigued enough to pursue the story to the next volume in the trilogy.