Reviewed by Lela Buchanan for Readers' Favorite
In a literary world rife with paranormal characters and situations, "The King's Ransom" offers a refreshing and realistic approach to pre-teen medieval reading material. The three young protagonists come from different levels of society: a prince, a blacksmith's apprentice, and an orphan. When their friend, "the Wild Man", is accused of murder and theft, they so strongly believe in his innocence that they join forces to clear him. Each one faces his own fears with determination in the quest to solve the mystery, a journey filled with danger and suspense, and, ultimately, a highly satisfying conclusion. The Knights of the Round Table, King Arthur and his famous sword, Excalibur, and even Sir Lancelot make brief but powerful appearances in this tale of coming of age.
Cheryl Carpinello has written a clean, tight read without using any of the props so prevalent in the young reader's genre. Although there is a "witch" and a "ghost" in the story, they are secondary and realistic characters playing supportive roles. The three young heroes: Gavin, the youngest prince who longs to be a knight; Bryan, the blacksmith's apprentice who also longs to become a knight; and the orphan Philip who has secret longings, all set aside the boundaries of class to work together. Carpinello writes, "On his quest to save the wild man, he [Gavin] had learned a man was only as good as his beliefs." I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely book and was genuinely surprised by some unsuspected revelations.