HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Cover Illustrator: Kaytalin Platt
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing, 2012
Language level: 3 (barely but unfortunately)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 10-14
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Carpinello, Cheryl. Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom (published in 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing, 14878 James, Pierrefonds, Quebec H9H 1P5, Canada). What can three young boys do to solve a theft and a murder? Eleven-year-old Gavin, who is almost twelve, is the youngest son of King Wallace and Queen Katherine of Pembroke Castle in Wales. His two older brothers, Sean and Robert, are knights, and Gavin hopes to become one too but is afraid that he will not be brave enough. His best friends are fifteen or sixteen-year-old Bryan Balyard, who is apprenticed to James the blacksmith, and Philip, a thirteen-year-old orphan with secrets who has lost his parents and baby brother to fever and now lives with and works for the village friar. They are often seen practicing to be knights in the company of a mysterious stranger, known only as “The Wild Man,” who appeared in the vicinity suddenly and lives like a beggar in the surrounding woods.
One day, a castle servant named Aldred is found killed, and a precious gold medallion with emeralds, known as The Kings’ Ransom which Gavin’s father plans to give to King Arthur as a pledge of support, is missing. After a search of the area, a bloody knife is located in the possessions of The Wild Man, who is accused of the murder and theft although the medallion is not recovered. King Wallace determines that when King Arthur comes either the medallion or the head of The Wild Man will be presented to him. However, Gavin, Bryan, and Philip all believe that The Wild Man is innocent, and they take an oath on Bryan’s new sword to find out the real killer and thief. Gavin even follows a lead which takes him to the castle of King Edward of Manorbier, an enemy of his father’s. Will the young men be able to solve the crime in time to save their friend? Exactly who is The Wild Man anyway? And what other surprises await Gavin?
The Kings’ Ransom, a middle grade adventure novel which is the first in the series “Young Knights of the Round Table,” is an exciting tale of knights, castles, swords, and villains that will appeal not only to those who like to read things related to the Arthurian legends but also to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, action story. It gives a good picture of early medieval life in the British Isles for both royalty and peasants. In addition, there is good character development as Gavin, Bryan, and Philip all exhibit great courage as they face their fears, doubts, and other insecurities in order to help their friend. The phrase “he** to pay” is used once, and Queen Katherine should wash Gavin’s mouth out with soap because on one occasion he yells “bloody he**.” There are also some references to drinking mead and ale, but otherwise this is a fun book that should delight any tween boy, and girl too. Cheryl Carpinello is also the author of Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend.