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Mimus [Paperback]

Lilli Thal , John Brownjohn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2005
When Prince Florin and his father, King Philip, attend a banquet in the court of their former enemy, they expect peace at last for their war-torn kingdom. What greets them instead is a devastating betrayal. The king is humiliated and imprisoned while Florin is forced to live in a stable, at the mercy of Mimus, the wily court jester. He is close to despair until he uncovers a secret plot. There may be hope, but can he entrust his life to the whim of a manipulative fool? This is an intense medieval adventure story, highly acclaimed for its almost unbearable suspense.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (1 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741147026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741147025
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 15.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,502,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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an unusually well-realized adventure will have strong appeal for fantasy fans.'School Library Journal, USA, Dec, complex and very clever storytelling a sophisticated and engrossing historical tale by a writer who brings exceptional attention to detail, character development and theme.' Booklist, USA, starred review oct 2005' an amazing adventure sure to get your blood pumping!' Barbie MagazineJan 2006'A riveting and realistic medieval drama.' 45 Dec 2005

About the Author

Lilli Thal, historian and novelist, established herself on the German children's book market with her prize-winning series of humorous crime stories about Inspector Pillermeier. She lives in Southern Germany with her husband, two children and a dog.

John Brownjohn is one of Britain's foremost translators from French and German. His work has won numerous awards on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Society of Authors' Schlegel-Tieck Prize on three occasions. He has been much praised for his deft and elegant use of language: seamless and idiomatic, without a single clumsy construction, It's a remarkable achievement to sustain a breakneck pace and never once sound as if the book were written in anything other than English.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An all time favourite 3 Mar 2011
It took me ages to actually read this book when it was bought for me by a friend, but once I'd opened it I ended up reading it at every possible moment.

The plot is at first quite simple, bog - standard happy pampered prince goes with his Dad to make peace with a neighboring Kingdom that have long been deadly enemies. Of course it's all a big trick and the King and his men are imprisoned and Florin the price is sent to become a little jester under the eye of the quite repulsive seeming palace Jester Mimus. The book however becomes more interesting as the story unfolds and Florin learns that nobody is how they first appear, even his own father and the character of Mimus is fascinating. The ending doesn't seem totally well rounded but it's probably the only way it could have ended without becoming either too happy clappy or too miserable.

Despite quite a thick plot it's very easy to read, definitely easy for young teenagers but adults would certainly enjoy it too. I'm 18 so am at the peak of both sides and have read this book now around three times. If I'm bored I pick it up and skip to my favourite bits. It's that brilliant.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and exciting 13 April 2007
A fantastic book for adults and their older children alike.

It's actually written in the third person, but entirely from the point of view of Florin, a young prince who has fallen on the hardest of hard times: his world comes crashing down around his ears when his father's kingdom is treacherously overtaken by a neighbouring king.His subsequent humiliation by his worst enemy is tempered by the relationships he forms with the most unlikely of allies.

There is adventure and excitement aplenty, but this is much more than a simple ripping yarn. At its heart, it is a study of the nature of pride and honour, as Florin's disgrace becomes his strength, and his development from a two-dimensional figure from medieval fantasy into a complex adult who understands that no aspect of human behaviour is simple is beautifully and movingly handled by Thal.

At the centre of it all is the subtle enigma of Mimus, who embodies all the contradictions and compromises that every adult will recognise as a universal truth about the human condition. Mimus, the book and the character, will not easily be forgotten by readers.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Jest Or Not To Jest? 4 Feb 2006
By Tom
A great book written in first person. I would recommend for 9+ years of age. So many twists. The characters include a Prince turned Court Jester called Florin, a horrible old jester and an evil king with plans. Can Florin save his father, his kingdom and his dignity ? You find out in this fantastic read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and good 3 Sep 2005
By Diana C. Cook - Published on
This is a good read--similar to many novels of heroic fantasy. The hero is a 12 year old prince who is betrayed by his enemies and must survive to win back his kingdom. But a number of things make this novel unique. First of all, the book is quite good at showing the character of the young prince. He has to endure and survive.

In most heroic fantasies, the protagonist triumphs by power or success in evading the enemy and winning allies. We experience the forces and struggles of good vs. evil. The hero's success is always underscored by failure to submit and fighting back.

But in this book, the hero must survive imprisonment and learn to handle defeat. That is quite a challenge for a young prince who was trained to be number one and never to show weakness.

The title, "Mimus," is the name of the king's fool--a court jester who is universally despised. The book is quite good at showing the role of the jester in medieval court life. Jesters entertain by a variety of skills as well as "gross-outs" similar to those of the crudest vaudeville shows. If they fail to please, they may be whipped or starved or even killed. The young prince is apprenticed to such a jester and must learn to survive with all of his intelligence, courage, and physical fitness. But it is Florin's social skills and flexibility that enable him to prevail in his new position.

Throughout this novel we find that things are not always black and white. That is what I enjoyed most about this book. The ending is so much more complex than a simple restoration of the prince to his role as head of the kingdom and humiliation of his former captors. Florin has been transformed by his experiences which become part of his character as he matures--not just a bad misfortune to be forever left behind.

I enjoyed this novel and recommend it.

Diana Cook

Woodside, New York
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2005 'Gold' Medal Winner! 2 July 2006
By Chrissy K. McVay - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Congratulations to Lilli Thal on her first place 'Gold' win in the 2005 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards! Translated from Thal's native German by John Brownjohn, 'Mimus' is a prodigious tale of a young prince who is forced to become a Fool when tricked by his father's old enemy, King Theodo. The experience is humbling for the sheltered Prince Florin, who doesn't understand why King Theodo loathes his family so deeply. Revenge is taken upon the entire kingdom of Moltovia and Florin's father, King Phillip.
The story has a subtle message regarding the double-edged sword of revenge and the need for forgiveness, even if the crimes committed are horrid. There's also humor weaved skillfully on the pages. The banter between Mimus (King Theodo's Jester) and Prince Florin, who becomes the Jester's pupil, is very witty. The jokes and riddles lighten the horrors of torture and war. I'm hoping to find a sequel to Mimus, for I already miss the 'poetic jousting' between the Jester and Prince Florin.

Chrissy K. McVay
author of 'Souls of the North Wind', Silver winner in 2005 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprising and happy find 25 Jan 2007
By Kaila - Published on
I am victim to what many other reviewers have said about this book, I picked it up on a whim and didn't cherish high hopes for it. Within the first chapter though, I could tell I would enjoy reading it. Lilli Thal's writing style borders on romantic, entwining fantasy and poem seemlessly into her prose. Normally I hate books that do that, and I usually skip over the songs the authors put in as I can't be bothered to read them, but every tale and every silly song that she wrote enhances the story. Each line has a second meaning, and it's up to you, dear reader, and our young hero to decipher it. I personally can't wait until someone else I know reads it so I can discuss the book at length!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly amazing 14 Jan 2007
By molly - Published on
I bought this book on a whim, in a shipment of a lot of other books. It wasn't the one I was particularly looking forward to. It was amazing. Dazzling, spectacular, original. And amazingly well-written, even though it's a translation...good work, John Brownjohn! It's not black and white, but woven with multiple shades of gray, portraying the evil King Theodo as not-so-evil, Florin's own father as not-so-perfect, the haughty princess Alix as somehow kind as well, and the seemingly cold and heartless Mimus as a toughened but tragic individual. I particularly liked the scene where Florin is being held by dagger-point by Theodo's henchman, and Theodo's son by Florin's father's. They're at a stalemate, unmoving, until Mimus breaks in (greeting the guards) with, "We're playing an amusing game called, 'If you stab mine, I'll stab yours!' I'm acting as mediator." A few paragraphs later, when Florin's father king Philip asks what Mimus suggests, the jester replies, "Turn yourselves inside out and let the wind blow through your hearts. Turn the sky upside down and start afresh. Leave the dead to the dead and beg forgiveness of the living. And, since you won't manage to do any of that, sit before the fire and weave baskets!"

Well said.

Rating: Very Good
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend it to anyone who loves medieval tales 9 Jun 2009
By J. Maxon - Published on
This one started out a little thicker than I normally like. I don't mean thick by the story being almost 400 pages long, I mean thick by the amount of information that is thrown at you. Lots of character names and lots of back story.

That said; let me say that this book is more than worth sticking through the first few, difficult, chapters. It's interesting to note that German author, Lilli Thal, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in information management / multimedia technology, but after learning the joy of writing copy for the internet, she decided to go for a career in writing. Her studies in medieval history, art history, and Christian archaeology come shining through in the story of Mimus.

Translated by John Brownjohn, the writing is very clear and easy to read. At first I was a little confused-as if I was reading about a valid historical era-but the fact is this story was written with such plausibility that one could almost believe this fantastical setting really existed. In reality, it is just a fantastical world written with some real-world history, making the reader believe he/she is back in the medieval days.

Story overview:
Twelve-year-old Florin, Prince of Moltovia, is summoned by his father to the kingdom of Vinland. With the recent war between the two realms the promise of a truce sends feelings of joy and relief into the hearts of the people. Florin goes with high spirits to see his father, even if it might mean the union between him and the unknown princess, Alix, which would help to seal the peace.

On the way, a strange and seemingly crazy woman jumps into the path and warns Florin to turn back. The party was a little confused by the act, but didn't let it deter them from proceeding. Later, Florin comes to realize he should have listened to the woman, as what was awaiting him wasn't a treaty, but treachery. Rather than a banquet, his father and his father's men show up in chains, only to be mocked and ridiculed by a jester named Mimus.

Once Mimus turns his attacks on Florin, he finds himself in a battle of whit's. This gives King Theodo the idea to hand Florin over to the jester to train him to become a fool. Only thing, no one is allowed to know. Suffering from this humiliation, Florin does what he can in order to survive; sleeping on straw like an animal, being in a state of constant hunger, suffering from lashes of a whip, and learning to play a buffoon. He sticks with it all so that his father (locked in a dungeon) does not suffer further punishment on his behalf. All in hopes that help will come before his father's execution, one in which he is expected to provide the entertainment for.

My thoughts:
I absolutely loved this story. Highly recommend it to anyone who loves medieval tales, and even to those who don't. Quite an original idea that is executed very well. A page turner to the very end. Other than the slightly dizzying beginning, my only other complaint is that there weren't enough scenes with Florin and the princess, Alix. Here's hoping a sequel is written.

James D. Maxon
Author of Traphis: A Wizard's Tale
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