Friday, July 22, 2011

The Trumpeter of Krakow

The Trumpeter of Krakow. Eric P. Kelly. 1928. 208 pages.

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.

There is never a dull moment in The Trumpeter of Krakow. For there are the neighbors above and below to keep things interesting. The most interesting, perhaps, being the alchemist, Kreutz, he is the distracted uncle of the grateful girl, Elzbietka. He has a student, Johann Tring, a young man that makes many--including Joseph and Elzbietka--nervous. The two--in varying degrees--are obsessed with finding out the secret of how to make gold, fascinated with the philosopher's stone. The niece feels that Tring is a bad, bad influence on her uncle, and that Tring is leading her Uncle into dangerous territory.

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.

The novel is exciting. It has action and adventure, and a bit of magic as well. I do believe this one is more plot-driven than character-driven, but that didn't bother me at all. For it was enough that I wanted to find out what happened next. And the writing, I felt, was pleasant.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Unknown said...

Great review Becky, this is one of those books I would have picked up if Id seen it.

scotlandprincess said...

When I was about eleven or so, I loved this book so much.

Charlotte said...

Hi Becky!

Is this one fantasy enough to count for my Sunday round-up?

Let me know if it is, and I'll stick it in!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I just can't get past the names!

I think I'd need a cast of characters. ;)