The author of Which Was Witch? and Friend Among Strangers turns to the time of the Fifth Crusade (1218) for background. Big John is twelve, an English serf, raised by Old Marm, the herb-curer. Their secret (John is the son of Sir Ranuff of Chester, disappeared since attack by hostile King John) carries the boy into the service of nobleman and on to the Holy Land. Old Marm dies, but John never stops looking for his father, often cures the sick, and always makes friends of enemies. By the time he is sixteen, he has become a skilled knight, apprentice to an apothecary, guest of a Moslem Sultan, and the travelling companion of Francis of Assisi, ""the little gray brother of the poor"", who had hoped to convert the Saracens to Christianity. John's search ends in Damietta, and we have learned much about ways of living in the thirteenth century. Authentic fact and lots of adventure, Christian tolerance, and- sentimentality. Also, a chance to appreciate other religions, other cultures, other lands and times.