When I get tired of reading dense, scholarly tomes about fools, I turn to my collection of books that include jesters and fools in fiction. I’ve found some excellent jesters and fools in fiction, and I’ve found some bad. I tend to really enjoy the older books, but there’s one modern series that really captures what I’d like to do.
My First Forays Into Jesters and Fools in Fiction
I heard about a book called Troubadour by Richard Burns and bought it, then realized there was a first one to the series called Khalindaine, so I made the mistake of buying that one, too. No–I shouldn’t be so cruel. But honestly. Starts with an intriguing scene, then the whole first chapter is plodding through description after description of the river and the palace and the city…
The troubadour shows up at the end of the chapter and makes me laugh, but then the second chapter goes someplace else and proceeds to describe what it looks like. Hey! I want Streetpoet back! At least he gave us some action and funnies! I think I may just have to go through and read his parts only…the rest may put me to sleep. I think the problem is the high fantasy aspect of it. It’s never been my favorite genre. I seem to recall a few other books that my brothers had that were similar. So bogged down in recreating the place and the writer doesn’t focus on character and plot. I’m striving for something different, so those books got put back on the shelf fast.
My Favorite Novels That Include Jesters and Fools in Fiction
As far as fiction goes, the Alan Gordon Medieval Mysteries series is my absolute favorite. I bought them all. Even placed the most recent on pre-order with Amazon. He is amazingly good at portraying the scene they’ve set up as entertainers; the dialogue is fast and witty (just what you’d expect from jesters); the love story is sweet; and the mysteries themselves aren’t half bad either. They’re stretched a bit thin in places, but what mystery isn’t? I’m not reading it for critical analysis. But he really does a brilliant job.
I’m reading a few others as well–one of my favorites is The Fool Beloved by Jeffrey Farnol. Wow. So over the top I can’t even believe it. It’s like reading a bad Shakespeare play. But I love it. I don’t know why. Really hard to read the super flowery language, so it’s taking me a bit longer than I expected, but I just love seeing it on the end table by the couch. The book was published in 1949 and smells a bit musty–the pages are all uneven along the edges, not smooth like we’re used to–the cover is the 1949 equivalent to a bodice ripper, I’m thinking. All cowering bad guy and gasping maiden and the fool (Bimbo) advancing menacingly with his marotte. Did I mention how much I love it? The murder scene at the beginning is even done like a play. Off stage left we hear the cries and grunts of pain and running footsteps, and then our hero rushes in too late to rescue his friend. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and then the vow of vengeance. Most intriguing, wot?