Presentisms rub my fur the wrong way. TV is especially guilty of this kind of artistic ‘licence,’ injecting the past with modern day morals. It irks me. It’s a subtle form of historical manipulation, a propagation of modern ideologies. It says, Look, centuries ago a few people believed the way we do now, we’ve simply moved it up the evolutionary scale a notch. Don’t get me going. I only mention this in reference to Avi’s TCL and At The Edge of the World because over the pages of those novels I caught a whiff of the stuff percolating up through the character of Bear, a ‘live and let live’, ever-insightful, ecumenical humanist. TCL is a story plunged in a medieval world, yet hints of new world sensibilities.
This novel is interesting from another point of view. Clearly, young Crispin is technically the protagonist, but after I have let the story steep for a while, my mind is continually drawn back to the character of Bear, who, I would argue, is the real protagonist in that within him is the message and character of the book. Bear is the conduit of the author’s sensibilities…
But having scratched my itch, a small irritation by the way, I will say how impressed I was how Avi otherwise created an authentic world, which underscored plenty of research. His authentic writing extends into creating a stylistic tone, especially in the dialogue, which the author constructed to feel old, employing period vocabulary, mediaeval sentiments and events spanning fourteenth and fifteenth centuries England, in addition to the treasure chest of mediaeval scenery and props.
This tale is character driven. You are drawn into well-articulated three-dimensional lives and the reader empathizes deeply with their quest.