Crispin: The Cross of Lead

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Crispin: The Cross of Lead
Avi Crispin.jpg
First edition cover
Author Avi (or Edward Irving Wortis)
Country England
Series Crispin
Genre Young adult novel, Historical novel
Publisher Hyperion Books
Publication date
June 2002
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 297 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-7868-0828-4 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 48559447
LC Class PZ7.A953 Cr 2002
Followed by (Crispin: At the Edge of the World)

Crispin: The Cross of Lead is a 2002 children's novel written by Avi. It was the winner of the 2003 Newbery Medal.[1] Its sequel, Crispin: At the Edge of the World, was released in 2006. The final book that completes the trilogy, Crispin: The End of Time was released in 2010.

Plot summary[edit]

In 1377 A.D. England, a 13-year-old boy, known only as Asta's Son, lives as a peasant in the small village of Stromford. His village is part of the territory of the feudal Lord Furnival in whose absence is under the control of the steward, John Aycliffe. When his mother dies, Asta's Son is left alone as he has no other known relatives. Shortly afterwards, John Aycliffe falsely accuses him of theft, and declares him a Wolf's Head (one who may be killed on sight). Asta's Son turns to the village priest, his only friend, who gives to him a lead cross that belonged to his mother, and reveals that his true name is Crispin. The priest promises to reveal to Crispin the truth of who his father was, but before he can, Aycliffe's men murder him, forcing Crispin to flee the village by himself, pursued by the steward. Crispin has no knowledge of the world, and no useful skills. When he enters an abandoned village, he goes into the church and meets Bear, a travelling jester. Bear claims Crispin as his own and becomes Crispin's master. After a few weeks, Bear learns of Crispin's lead cross and notices the writing on the cross. While Bear does not tell Crispin what the words say, Crispin realizes that the cross and its words are important. Bear is rough with Crispin, but during their travels together, a true bond of friendship develops between them. Bear eventually asks if Crispin will become his apprentice, to which Crispin happily agrees. Posing as father and son, the two travel towards the city of Great Wexly. It is the capital city of Lord Furnival's lands, Bear insists that he has important business to complete there. When they arrive they find troubles waiting for them. Lord Furnival has died and John Aycliffe has arrived. They stay at The Green Man tavern. In the room, there is a false-wall, which Bear tells Crispin will be his hiding place if things go badly. Bear meets with John Ball. Soldiers come and destroy The Green Man looking for Crispin, who has hidden in the "hiding place". Widow Daventry of The Green Man tavern tells Crispin that he is Lord Furnival's illegitimate son and that his mother was the daughter of Lord Douglas. Bear is taken hostage by Aycliffe as a means to draw Crispin out of hiding. Crispin tries to get the help of "The Brotherhood", an organization Bear is a member of and headed by John Ball. When they will not aid Crispin in trying to find Bear, Crispin takes it upon himself to break into Furnival Palace and find Bear himself. He finds a dagger in one of the hallways and keeps it under his cloak. He goes into a great room and sees a picture of Lord Furnival, who looks a lot like himself. While in that room, Aycliffe walks in. Crispin tells Aycliffe that the cross of lead states that he (Crispin) is "the Son of Furnival". After a brief argument, Crispin attacks Aycliffe. But instead of killing him, makes him vow and take an oath that he (Crispin) and Bear will be able to leave Great Wexly unharmed (never to return) in exchange for Crispin's cross of lead. Crispin is led to Bear, who is being kept in the palace's cellar. Bear has been tortured and is weak, but manages to walk out of the palace on his own. Aycliffe and a band of soldiers escort them to the city gates. At the city gates, Aycliffe reneges on his oath and is intent on killing Crispin. A fight ensues between Aycliffe and Bear. Crispin gives Bear the dagger he found in the palace. The soldiers have their swords drawn and encircle Aycliffe and Bear. Aycliffe gets the upper hand on Bear and knocks his dagger out of his hand. Crispin picks up the dagger and Aycliffe turns to kill Crispin with his sword. Bear strangles Aycliffe, causing him to lose his sword and dagger. Bear then hurls Aycliffe into the air and he lands on the soldiers' swords and dies. Crispin and Bear leave Great Wexly through the city gate, but not before Crispin keeps his promise and leaves the cross of lead on Aycliffe's dead chest. Outside the gate, Bear and Crispin play music and sing. Crispin, for the first time, feels like "Crispin" instead of "Asta's Son".


  • Crispin -Serf, or a Peasant boy, age 13, living in a rural English village called Stomford in 1377. The book is written from his point of view. Son of "Asta" and "Lord Furnival"
  • Asta - Crispin's mother, youngest daughter of Lord Douglas;Made a serf when Crispin was born by Lord Furnival because Crispin was born out of wedlock, died shortly before Crispin is proclaimed a wolf's head
  • Lord Douglas - Asta's father
  • Lord Furnival - Lord of Stromford; first home is in Great Wexley; Crispin's father, died of a sickness while Crispin was on his way to Great Wexly
  • Lady Furnival - The wife of Lord Furnival
  • Bear - Traveling jester and entertainer who has connections to John Ball's secret brotherhood that at the end of the book allows Crispin into. Found Crispin and became his Master, later on bonded with Crispin and made Crispin his apprentice rather than Bear being his master.
  • Father Quinel - Friend to Crispin and his mother and a priest, killed by John Aycliffe to hide that Crispin's father is Lord Furnival
  • Goodwife Peregrine - Elderly woman in the village, Appears to be a very wise and mysterious person
  • Widow Daventry - Barmaid at the Green Man Tavern and friend of Bear, had many children and a husband, but they died from the plague or "The Black Death"
  • John Aycliffe - Steward of Stromford and kin of Lady Furnival, attempts to kill Crispin to make sure he keeps his power.
  • Cerdic - A boy that tricks Crispin into a trap, nothing else is really known about him.


 2. Avi, Crispin: The Cross of Lead 2002 New York Disney-Hyperion
Preceded by
A Single Shard
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
The Tale of Despereaux