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Book Review: Acre’s Orphans

Acre’s Orphans. Wayne Turmel. Las Vegas, Nevada: Achis Press, January 21, 2019, Trade Paperback and E-book, 332 pages.

Reviewed by Andrew Reynolds.

In his previous book, Acre’s Bastard, Wayne Turmel introduced us to Lucca Le Pou. His ten-year-old protagonist is a street-smart scapegrace who knows the back alleys of his home city of Acre like the back of his hand. Lucca has already survived more than most adults, including the disastrous defeat of the Christian forces at the Battle of Hattin. But as much as he hopes to go back to his old life, that wish is not to be realized.

Acre’s Orphans opens in the aftermath of Hattin. Acre, now virtually defenseless, is awash with fear as it prepares to surrender to the Muslim armies of Sal ad-Din. A mysterious outsider is stirring up resentment for the defeat. Lucca and Brother Marco, his mentor who was a former knight and occasional spy, soon realize this unrest is part of an effort to discredit a powerful Christian nobleman. Brother Marco dispatches Lucca to Tyre, where the nobleman resides, to warn him of the threat. Lucca, who has only been beyond the walls of Acre once, must travel through leagues of war-torn countryside. His only companions on this trip are a slightly older Druze girl, a leprous nun hoping for refuge from the Muslims, and a Hospitaller knight of dubious reputation.

Acre's Bastard was an exploration of the seamy side of the Crusades, and this second installment of the series takes the reader into the shifting political and military landscapes of the Holy Lands in the 12th century. Lucca must navigate his way through the uncertainty around him while both doing his best to keep his companions safe and to accomplish the task given to him by Brother Marco. As he does this, the scared boy he was begins to melt away and the young man people will follow begins to emerge. 

I enjoyed reading Acre’s Orphans enough that I finished it in three days. I found Lucca Le Pou to be an engaging character, as are the supporting characters. Their interactions feel like those of real people, with none of the stilted set-piece scenes some stories fall into. The landscape they move through is believable enough that you feel you could almost trace their path. The plotting is good, and the pacing keeps you turning the page. In other words, it’s a good read and well worth your time.

In his closing notes to Acre’s Orphans, Wayne Turmel tells us Acre’s Bastardwas originally to be the only book about Lucca. That changed when his daughter indicated she wanted to read more of his character’s adventures. I am glad she changed his mind, because I too am looking forward to reading more of Lucca’s story. I suspect others will look forward to further installments as well.


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