From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—When a 14th-century peasant boy stumbles onto a mysterious corpse, his life is inexorably altered. From the hand of the dead knight, Grimpow extracts a talisman that turns out to be no less than the famed philosopher's stone over which kings and popes have tortured and killed in order to gain its possession and its powers. Hiding from the Inquisition in a local abbey, Grimpow discovers that the stone enables him to read and learn at a remarkable pace, but he is filled with the sense that he must fulfill a quest begun by the mysterious knight. Setting out as squire to a dashing young noble, Grimpow must not only solve riddles posed by the stone, but also survive brutal battles to keep it. This attempt at high fantasy leans heavily on the current fascination for tales of the Knights Templar, enigmatic quests, and young boys with special powers. However, a plodding story line that weaves in too many threads (the Inquisition, Copernican and Galilean theories of astronomy and alchemy, among others) without explanation will leave readers baffled and struggling to make sense of all the drama. Add an abrupt and unsatisfying ending and this becomes, at best, an additional purchase.—Sharon Grover, Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, WI
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Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2007: “
Ábalos blends the grand-scale storytelling prowess and epic quest element of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings with the cryptographic intrigue of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.”