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The Magician and the Fool Paperback – 25 Mar 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (25 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553383590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553383591
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.7 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,200,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Brilliantly drawn characters draw you into this magical mystery tour-de-force, and take you on a magic carpet ride into the strange and wondrous cult of the Tarot. Barth Anderson's grasp of the darkness and light of human nature will astound and astonish."--Ann Benson, author of The Plague Tales
"Compelling... a fevered dream universe."--"Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Barth Anderson lives in Minnesota with his wife and children. He has written short fiction in numerous publications and anthologies, and six of his stories have received honorable mentions in "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror." He was the winner of the Spectrum Award for best short fiction in 2004. The Magician and the Fool is his second novel.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as I have an interest in mystical things and thought it might be interesting! It is better than interesting, it is amazing! I quite enjoyed Dan Brown's books but this far surpasses it! I haven't been able to put it down since I started reading it, and am nearing the end. I can wait to find out the answer to all the twists and turns but at the same time I don't want to finish the book! If you like mysteries based on myths and possible truths that make you think: "what if?" then read this book. You won't be disappointed!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9995a480) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b5a90f0) out of 5 stars Surreal sliding through Minneapolis and Rome 10 Jun. 2008
By the_smoking_quill - Published on
Format: Paperback
Jeremiah Rosemont is a far-fallen academic star, an art historian with specialized knowledge of--and uncanny experience with--tarot decks. Having exiled himself from the United States, he finds his wanderings through Nicaragua interrupted one night by the mysterious delivery of a plane ticket to Rome. There, he stumbles into a maelstrom of occult forces and figures gathering around a deck of uncertain origin and powers. Another figure with links to the deck is the Boy King, a vagrant in Minneapolis with strange and formidable talents. The chapters alternate between Rome and Minneapolis, while the story meanders through time and space, until the lives of Rosemont and the Boy King finally dovetail with surprising consequences.

This is Mr. Anderson's second novel, and in it he displays prodigious gifts, seamlessly blending items such as transcripts of interviews, faxes, and redacted government letters with amazingly vivid descriptions of surreal events, such as this scene from a festival in Rome: "A crowd of men in gas masks were playing sanders, drills, and one man with a whining electric saw was pressing it against an iron slab, sending up rooster tails of sparks over the crowd, all of which turned upon multifold Moroccan rhythms and the singer's reverent, warbling voice." (p. 197) (The use of mirrors in Rosemont's first key romantic liaison and the conclusion is also noteworthy.) On the other hand, he refuses to spoon-feed the reader with "what's really happening" behind the viewpoint character's immediate thoughts and perceptions--leaving enigmas such as the identities of minor characters unresolved--and the result is a post-modern fever dream that feels longer than its 290 pages and should captivate a reader who lets him/herself succumb to it, but that is unlikely to enlighten or educate (with the exception of tarot lore, but even there, one struggles to separate fact from myth from fiction).

Overall, this should be a fascinating library loan for mature fans of modern or literary fantasy (but to this reviewer, it was much lighter and less rewarding than Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, for example). Its card is ... the Three of Stars.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d916a8) out of 5 stars exhilarating convoluted thriller 28 Mar. 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Paperback
Disgraced as an academia art historian Jeremiah Rosemont fled to remote areas to just get away from the treachery of his peers. He is currently hiking through Central America when a stranger informs him he has been summoned to Rome; the man gives him a plane ticket and leaves.

Rosemont flies to Rome and enters through a back door a hotel where he sees some sort of weird gala occurring; filled with people he once knew. At the same time that Rosemont is left bewildered, two killers in Minnesota pursue Boy King, a dumpster driving tarot card reader. They seek a legendary ancient pack that they believe Boy King owns; that same pack is why Rosemont has been brought out of self exile; disgraced or not he is expected to affirm its origin. If he is able to do so it will change recognition of this thought to be pseudo science into something valid and acceptable.

This is an exhilarating convoluted thriller that is not going to allow readers to remain in their comfort zone. Instead THE MAGICIAN AND THE FOOL is a well written complex tale that questions what is real in a singular and collective sense and is the singular real normal if it differs from the collective. Fans looking for something radically different and not easy to comprehend will relish Barth Anderson's atypical tale that will either turn someone off early or have them re-read immediately to gain additional nuances and perspectives.

Harriet Klausner
HASH(0x99a1db64) out of 5 stars Too much story gets in the way of the slim plot 6 May 2013
By Clay Kallam - Published on
Format: Paperback
Barth Anderson's `The Magician and the Fool' (Bantam, $13, 288 pages) is a decidedly introspective book, though there's plenty of action to disguise the fact that not much is really going on.

Two protagonists, Jeremiah Rosemont and Boy King, are both caught in a modern world with an occult subculture in which tarot cards have real power and ancient forces are calling the shots. Rosemont and the Boy King each must not only unravel the mystery of why they are chosen by these powers to play a part in some inexplicable game, they must also overcome people who want things that they have - or that the people after them think they have.

Anderson, like many authors, seeks to keep the pages turning by thrusting his heroes into tense situations that force them to react without having time to figure out what's going on. This ploy can work, but Anderson takes far too long to reveal enough to even minimally inform the reader - in part because the plot is very simple, behind the bells and whistles, and the narrative arc is better suited to support a short story or novella rather than a full-length novel.

In the end, `The Magician and the Fool' is unsatisfying for fantasy readers, as it is more reminiscent of Robertson Davies than fantasy and science fiction, and Anderson is nowhere close to Davies in style or substance. But he is young, so there is hope - but still, this is one to check out of the library rather than buy.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a043ca8) out of 5 stars literary catnip! 28 Mar. 2009
By A. Wicklund - Published on
Format: Paperback
it's not easy to find books this well-written, smart, and compelling. i found it addictive. i was so engrossed i wanted to call in sick, turn off the phone, and stay up all night. i didn't want to to do anything except keep reading. and then, when it was over and i emerged from my trance, i wished i had savored it and made it last longer.

the story is mysterious and multi-layered, fast-paced and exciting. it grabs you by the throat from the get-go and doesn't let go, well, ever. it sticks with you long after the last page. it's the kind of book that you *want* to read again right away. partly because it's hard to leave this world and these characters behind; but also because it's such a page-turner, you get swept up in the action and it can be hard to s-l-o-w down to process information or look for clues, even though you sense there are many more layers there to explore. but that's okay, because the second reading is even more rewarding than the first.

it's true that anderson doesn't spell it out for his readers, but all the pieces are there and it's fun to turn them over and fit them together. he does not insult your intelligence but instead weaves it all together in an elaborate tapestry that makes closer scrutiny enjoyable and rewarding.

if offers the sweetest kind of reading pleasure -- a world where you can happily lose yourself, a story that won't let you go, and mysteries that your mind keeps turning over and over like a toy. it's like catnip for your mind.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a043f9c) out of 5 stars A rushed out early work by Anderson? 2 Dec. 2008
By Venardhi - Published on
Format: Paperback
I couldn't help but feel while reading this book that it was an early work by Anderson that was rushed out by his publisher to take advantage of the well-deserved acclaim for Patron Saint of Plagues, which is a far superior piece of storytelling.

The plot is summed up in the other reviews, so basically all I'll say is halfway through the book I felt like the plot was just getting started, another quarter of the way through and it felt like nothing big had really happened yet, then he quickly rushes through to the end with a sloppy climax that ties together the two story threads in pretty much the most obvious deus-ex-machina-way possible. MAGIC DID IT!

A HUGE disappointment for a HUGE fan of his previous book. Hopefully this is indeed just an early work they picked up after the success of PSOP and his future books will be up to the standard of his first.
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