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.
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.
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