by Rafael Ábalos

Reviewer Rating:
4

Review

Running away from his abusive uncle's tavern with a known thief and con artist named Durlib, Grimpow now leads the life of a vagabond. They travel from place to place, but have taken shelter for the winter in a cabin in the mountains of France. The year is 1313.  Coming back from gathering firewood he comes across a dead body, frozen in the snow.  Frightened, he races to the cabin to get Durlib.  Durlib is curious and asks Grimpow to show him.  This is no ordinary man, he is dressed in a knight's finery and has several items including jewels, coins, and an unusual seal in a leather bag.  But a small stone Durlib tosses to Grimpow to keep as a talisman will prove to be most interesting. Grimpow can feel a warmth from the stone that seems to move through his entire body.  When they retrieve a sealed envelope from the Knight's grasp and open it, it reveals some type of code with foreign symbols.  Grimpow, who has never learned how to read or write, looks at the strange marks and immediately understands them.  Durlib convinces Grimpow to take what they can in order to cover burial costs and move the knight to the local abbey, but before they can, the body vanishes into thin air like he was never there at all.

They do travel to the abbey as they begin to make their way to the town mentioned in the letter to continue the knight's mission, but when the inquisitor appears, apparently tracking the dead knight, one has to hide, another must escape, and someone else ends up dead.  Grimpow will learn more than he ever thought possible and his life, will never be the same.

Rafael Abalos weaves legend, faith, and science into a miraculous story of survival and a quest for knowledge so profound that many are willing to die or even kill for it.  I believe it's an exceptional story, but it has all the things I'm fascinated with: Knight's Templar, a medieval setting, danger, myth, honor, and courage.  I couldn't really ask for a whole lot more, well, except maybe a dragon or two. 

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