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A Study Guide to

There Will Be Wolves

a novel by Karleen Bradford


Ursula is a teenage girl living with her father, an apothecary, in Europe in 1096. She is a strong-willed and outspoken girl who has been taught ‘healing’ methods by a local monk. The other women in the town believe Ursula is a witch and after accusing her she is put on trial and found guilty. She is scheduled to be burned for her crimes but instead is pardoned when her father promises the church he and his daughter will take part in the holy Crusade to free Jerusalem from the infidels. Ursula has a close friend named Bruno who is strongly against the Crusade because of the killing that will be involved. The ‘prophet’ Peter, who is the leader of the crusade, seems to be a raving lunatic more often than a man preaching god’s word. The rich Count’s of Europe also seem to take pleasure in seeing themselves at Peter’s side, leading the Crusade but are also shown to be power hungry men whose thirst for control will lead them to commit atrocious crimes. Ursula and her father are witnesses to the truth about the Crusade and the novel tells her story.


Ursula is different. With her book learning and outspoken manner, she doesn’t fit in, and her spirited ways get her into trouble. When a neighbour accuses her of being a witch, her only hope to save herself is to march in the People’s Crusade to the holy city of Jerusalem. It is the year 1096. Along with thousands of other pilgrims, Ursula and her friend Bruno soon find that there is more danger than glory on the Crusade. As the desperate Crusaders ravage the towns along their route, Ursula must summon all of her courage to survive.

Commentary and Review

This is an interesting novel that looks at issues including; power and oppression, human nature, the nature of war, religious conviction, suspicion and deception and survival.

It is a novel that would appeal to teenagers because the storyline revolves around the experiences and observations of a teenage girl. The author uses colloquial language throughout the novel but due to the historical aspects of the novel there are also many place names that some might find hard to pronounce.

It appeals to teenagers also because of the suggestion of a ‘love interest’ for the lead character, Ursula. There are suggestions throughout the novel that she is interested in Bruno and later in the novel the two are eventually married and ‘adopt’ a daughter named Verity who had lost her real mother in the violence of the Crusades. The persecution that Ursula is made to endure would also be something that teenagers would relate to due to the nature of peer pressure that teenagers often feel and the criticism they often encounter from adults in their lives.

The most memorable aspects of the novel are those which describe the horrific violence that occurs during the supposedly ‘holy quest’ made by the pilgrims. The Crusade is ‘sold’ to the pilgrims as something that must be done and that it is god’s will that is happen. The contradiction in what eventuates is that the quest is not completed and there is slaughter of drastic proportions of those who were carrying out this quest.

Ursula is a character that we can look up to and admire. At times she does appear to be a self-centered person who hates to have anyone challenge her and her beliefs, but she is also a very strong character who survives unbelievable adversity throughout the novel and is forced to grow up much more quickly than most teenagers have to due to these circumstances.

The Author

Karleen Bradford

Study Guide


1. What was the capital of the empire in the 4th century A.D.? 2. Who attacked the Byzantine Empire in the 1tth century? 3. What happened in April 1096 AD? 4. Why do you think we have been told all of this historical information?

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