Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence is an easy romp through an ancient fantasy land full of magic, evil, sex and violence. It is not meant to be taken seriously. The unlikely hero, Prince Jalan Kendeth — “drinker, gambler, seducer of women” (from the jacket description) — is the grandson of The Red Queen, a queen who strikes terror into the hearts of all the kings of the Broken Empire. She has waged war in secret her whole life against “the powers that stand behind nations” and her greatest weapon is the Silent Sister, a blind-eyed crone invisible to all but a very few, always at the queen’s side.
Prince Jal is one of the few. Snorri ver Snagason, a brutish Norseman who becomes Jal’s unlikely companion through this first novel of a trilogy called The Red Queen’s War, is another who sees. After a rocky beginning full of misadventure, the pair set off to the north to try to rescue Snorri’s family from The Dead King. Prince Jal, a true coward who can’t keep his pants done up, is continually trying to escape this destiny, and yet somehow continues on.
Mark Lawrence is the author of the best-selling trilogy The Broken Empire, published in 2011. This is a second career for Lawrence, having been a research scientist for both the British and the Americans in the field of artificial intelligence, but he has been making up for lost time, having published 6 novels, 3 more in the works, more than a dozen short stories, and several poems available free on his website. The reader will require a healthy amount of “willing suspension of disbelief” and a sense of humour about the brutal violence inherent to the times. A plus: there is a map of the kingdom in the front of the novel. * * * 1/2
To read the opening paragraph and a teaser, visit this link!