From the book jacket: Alfred Kropp was just
trying to survive high school when his guardian uncle
gets him roped into a suspicious get-rich-quick scheme
that changes his life forever: stealing Excaliburthe
legendary sword of King Arthur. After Alfred unwittingly
delivers the sword into the hands of a man with
enormously evil intentions, he sets off on an unlikely
quest to try to right his wrong and save the world from
imminent destruction. This gripping, fast-paced,
hilarious novel is both a thrilling adventure story and
an engaging account of one boy's coming of age.
Comments: Unusually tall 15-year-old Alfred is going through life somewhat apathetically but nonetheless safely, until his dodgy uncle embroils him in a scheme to steal an ancient sword from somebody's office. That somebody happens to be a descendent of one of the Knights of the Round Table and the sword is, of course, Excalibur - and he who wields Excalibur is invincible, so lots of people are keen to get their hands on it.
Before Alfred's got time to think about his unfinished homework he finds himself caught up with yet more descendents of the Round Table - the dastardly Mogart and the honorable Bennacio in this light-hearted, somewhat violent (heads do roll) tale of quest and adventure, the first in a planned series.
Extrapolating from the old adage that one can judge a man by the company he keeps; a good way to decide whether one might like a particular author's style could be to find out what authors he admires! In Yancey's case he claims his favorite books to be Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, for the humor; The Hobbit, for the whimsy and the adventure; The Borrowers, A Wrinkle in Time, and above all others, Roald Dahl. If these are your sort of books, then there's a good chance Yancey will be your sort of author - or rather, he's an author that you might wish to introduce to any 'young adult' readers in your life.
While you're about it you might want to check out his 2004 memoir for yourself, which Amazon describe as follows: "Imagine if Brad Meltzer or John Grisham's first book had been a memoir about working for the Internal Revenue Service and you have an idea of just how thrilling Richard Yancey's Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man's Tour of Duty Inside the IRS really is!"
This review was originally published in November 2005, and has been updated for the January 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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