By most accounts, and especially by teen accounts, fifteen-year-old Alfred Kropp is a loser. Being over-sized and under-intelligent, kids at school call him “Frankenstein.” His mother was sufficiently concerned about his intelligence to have his IQ tested. All right, so he’s not technically an idiot. That doesn’t change the way his peers see him or even, really, the way he sees himself. It convinces his mother, though, that he’s a big boy destined for big things.
Unfortunately, his mother isn’t around long to support and encourage Alfred. She dies of cancer when he is twelve. He never knew his father and is shuffled through foster homes until his hapless Uncle Farrell steps forward to take him in.
Uncle Farrell tries to improve Alfred’s prospects by coercing him to put his size to use on the school football team. He tries to improve his own prospects, and Alfred’s into the bargain, by agreeing to retrieve a sword that was stolen from its rightful owner. It’s hidden in the office building where he works, but he needs Alfred’s help to do the job.
Alfred is a bumbling and reluctant hero. His honesty and humility are endearing, but his unintentional humor is what I like most.
Stealing the sword is one of the few things Alfred manages to do successfully. Unfortunately, instead of returning it to the rightful owner, he and his uncle have been duped into stealing it from the rightful owner. Worst of all, this is no ordinary sword. It is a sword of unimaginable power, the likes of which we haven’t seen since The Ring disappeared into the fires of Mt. Doom.
The sword is so important that it is protected by a secret order of knights descended from those who once joined King Arther ’round a round table. These knights have sworn to protect the sword with their lives, and that’s what they set out to do. Guilt-ridden for the horrible mess he’s caused, and alone because Uncle Farrell was killed after the theft, Alfred takes up with Bennacio, zipping across the globe in fast cars and helicopters, tangling with the most villainous of villains, to save the sword and mankind.
King Arthur meets The Lord of the Rings meets James Bond meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
I need to note, however, that I was sometimes taken aback by the violence. Heads literally fly. I’ll admit I have a low threshold for violence, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Your turn. What are you reading?