By Craig R Hipkins
Adalbert is an intelligent but restless young man who is determined to make his own way in the world and cast himself from the shadow of his famous father Astrolabe. His mother Asperia attempts to keep him and his twin sister isolated from the evils of the world, but events unfold that make this quite impossible.
Adalbert crosses paths with the villain of Astrolabe, Robert de Langton whose diabolical behavior seems to have been arrested. He now lives a solitary life of repentance and takes Adalbert under his wing, but he holds a long time secret that Adalbert attempts to extract from him.
The adventure culminates with a dramatic sea voyage into the icy waters of the northern Atlantic where Adalbert and his burly Viking friend Halfdan seek a long forgotten treasure. They battle with sea-pirates and encounter a giant sea monster that attempts to destroy their ship. They are also pursued by the villains Childeric, a schemer and plotter who seeks to undermine the voyage, and the menacing Marcoul the Bastard who has kidnapped Adalbert's love interest Matilda.
We are also introduced to the Ethiopian prince Wedem and his twelve year old charge Clement, who is the son of the voyages benefactor Count Hugo. The quick witted and obstinate young kitchen maid Dagena provides comic relief throughout the book as she strikes up a friendship with Clement.
“I seek adventure and where it takes me only the good Lord knows.”
A chest full of treasures and a stone as black as night.
A mountain that spews smoke and brimstone.
It is the stuff of legends. Only this is no legend. The treasure is real and Adalbert, son of Astrolabe, is determined to find it. But Adalbert is not the only one lured by the promise of riches.
Adalbert is in possession of the scroll that contains information as to where the exact location of the treasure is, and because of this, Adalbert and his associates become a target.
From the exuberant excitement of the beginning of an adventure to a frightening yet exhilarating sea voyage to a distant northern land, Adalbert by Craig R Hipkins is an example of fantastic escapism fiction.
With a sweep of his quill, Hipkins has penned a book that is rich and deliciously narrated, vastly entertaining and immensely readable. With a cast of colourful and unforgettable characters and a plot that is bold and successful, Adalbert is the kind of book that is next to impossible to put down.
The hero of this story is the youthful and impulsive, Adalbert. Initially, I found it hard to like this brash and rather impetuous young man who is living in his late father’s shadow. He does not want to hear the wise counsel of his grandmother, nor that of his priest, Adonorus. He is disrespectful, and is of course, young enough to know everything! Adalbert longs for adventure, regardless as to the worry that might cause his family. However, as this story progresses, Adalbert is forced to take on responsibility — one could say his eyes are opened to the ways of the world and the dangers and discrimination that until now he had not really come face to face with. Adalbert is forced to mature, and by doing so, he becomes steadier, more constant, and is indeed, a far more likeable protagonist. Adalbert still wants the adventure of finding some lost treasure, but there is more to his personality than a young man dreaming of glory and riches. I thought Hipkins depicted Adalbert’s character with a great deal of skill and diligence.
The paradox of Robert de Langton’s persona was not lost on me. Hipkins has made Robert somewhat of an anti-hero in this book — on the one hand he is this devote Knight’s Templer, but on the other, he also wears the habit of a Benedictine monk. He is pious, yet has a weakness for coffee, and is a pretty handy man to have by your side in battle. Robert is a very troubled soul. There are events in his past that he will not speak of, and throughout this novel, there is an air of mystery about him, which made him highly appealable. Robert does indeed hide a secret, which could lead to devastating consequences for young Adalbert. I thought Robert’s depiction was particularly well-drawn, and I enjoyed reading about him very much.
Hipkins had depicted the antagonist of this tale with a remarkable attention to detail and a novelist eye for human depravity and corruption. Marcoul de Bastard, is a rather interesting villain, he does not merely seek the treasure for the riches it could bring him, but because he wants to witness his adversaries defeat. The chase is what Marcoul enjoys. I thought this approach towards the antagonist worked remarkably well, and Marcoul was a character that really drove this story forward.
One other character I would like to mention is Clement, the twelve-year-old son of Count Hugo de la Haye. Unlike his father, who is a loud and confident knight, Clement is slightly more reserved. He is quick of wit and has a sharp intelligence, and it was fascinating to watch this young lad’s confidence grow throughout this book, and by the end of it, he is daring to believe in himself and takes charge of his destiny.
Hipkins has paid much attention to the historical detail in this book as well as the historical controversy. I thought his depiction of the persecution of the Cathari, who were so cruelly labelled as heretics, was particularly well-drawn.
If you are looking for your next great historical adventure read, then check out Adalbert by Craig R Hipkins.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
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Craig R Hipkins
Craig was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1968. He currently lives in Dallas, North Carolina.
He published his first book, Fireballs: A History of Meteors and other Atmospheric Phenomena, in 2009.