The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp
Ages 12 and up
Bloomsbury, 2005, 1-58234-693-3
Alfred is a large, rather slow, young man. Since his mother died of cancer he has lived with his uncle Farrell and though his life cannot exactly be said to be happy - it isn't exactly miserable either. Then Uncle Farrell takes on a special job, a job that is risky, and which ends up costing Uncle Farrell his life. The job is, quite simply, for Uncle Farrell and Alfred to steal a sword. What Alfred finds out soon after that terrible night, is that the sword is none other than Excalibur, King Arthur's famous weapon, and that it is incredibly powerful.
Alfred discovers that an ancient order of knights exists, the members of which are sworn to protect Excalibur and save it from falling into the hands of those who would use its power for evil purposes. He learns that it is vital that the sword be retrieved from the man who hired Uncle Farrell to steal it; for the man is evil personified and with the sword in his hand he will be able to take over the world.
Now, Alfred has no dreams of saving the world but he soon finds himself embroiled in a battle to do just this. In the company of one of the knights Alfred speeds across the country in fast cars, dodging bullets and arrows and feeling like "some awkward, big-headed Angel of Death" for where ever he goes death seems to follow.
Bumbling along as best he can and trying to figure out who is and who is not to be trusted, Alfred is thrown into a deadly game, a game which may end up costing Alfred his life.
This gripping and action-packed novel leads its readers on a roller-coaster ride of exhilaration, anticipation, and wonder. Alfred ends up surprising not just himself but he also catches his enemies unawares. He may not look like much on the outside but there clearly is much more to Alfred than meets the eye and his enemies would be wise to treat him with respect.
Rick Yancy has created a delicately balanced novel that will intrigue all those readers who enjoy a fast paced thriller touched with a little old-world magic and legend.
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