It was in late July of the year 1461 that the sun rose one morning red and fiery as if ushering in midsummer's hottest day. His rays fell upon the old city of Krakow and the roads leading up to it, along which rolled and rocked a very caravan of peasants' wagons.
Don't judge a book by its cover. Or, at least don't judge this book by its cover! For appearances can be deceiving, The Trumpeter of Krakow is anything but boring! It's an exciting adventure story with elements that reminded me of some great fantasy novels! (It stars an alchemist and his "student" who is obsessed with finding the philosopher's stone.)
The Charnetski family has come to Krakow seeking protection. The father (Andrew Charnetski) has relatives in the city, and he's hoping to find sanctuary there until he can have an audience with the King (Kazimir Jagiello). But when he arrives, he learns that his relative has died--been murdered--and that the rest of the family has fled. Knowing that his family is in great danger--especially if the man seeking to prevent him from entering the city comes back to cause trouble--he returns to the market to think out his options. Joseph, the son, happens to rescue a young woman from an attacking dog, and in doing so wins the gratitude of her uncle. An invitation is extended to Joseph and his family, and lodgings are arranged. Around the same time, Andrew meets an important man in the city, Jan Kanty, who listens sympathetically and offers great advice. Sell your horses and your cart, change your name, and become the trumpeter in the tower of the Church of Our Lady St. Mary. Andrew is happy to follow this advice closely. He even teaches his son to play the trumpet hymn (Heynal) that is to played four times every hour. There is a story about this hymn, and a legend of sorts about a trumpeter. Readers learn of this at the very beginning, for it is set several centuries before this adventure even begins.
And of course, never for a minute forget that this family is being pursued. Why? Well, the family DOES have a secret, they have something in their possession that drives people mad, something that people are willing to kill to have.
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews