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The Fool's Tale by Nicole Galland

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The Fool's Tale by Nicole Galland

Post by diamondlil » Mon February 9th, 2009, 8:24 am

A brief look at my archives will tell you a few things. One is that I love Historical Fiction. Doesn't really matter what the setting is, although British history is one of my favourites. Ever since reading Sharon Kay Penman's excellent Welsh trilogy, the idea of reading more about Welsh history has been very attractive to me. I also am partial to a good Historical romance, so this book should have worked for me on a number of levels.

Did you notice I said should? Unfortunately it didn't work for me at all. At over half way through I have given up, and have my first DNF for the year. Given that I have only had one book that I couldn't finish reading since I began blogging over 3 years ago, you would be right in thinking that this is something that I don't normally do, but I just couldn't go on!

The first thing that didn't work for me was the fact that this is supposedly Welsh history, but then a quick look at the author's note reveals that King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon really died the year before this book was set, Isabel Mortimer and her brother never existed, which means that all the dramatic points that I read (war councils and battles) cannot have happened. Oh, and that "Gwirion is not only fictional, but historically improbably, as the Welsh court had no known position corresponding to the concept of a European fool or jester." Yes, the laws and rituals described were based on historical fact, so it's not completely without basis but there's not much there.

The second thing that didn't work for me is the characters. Noble, who very much does not live up to his name, Gwirion and Isabel are all unlikeable.In the first half of the book, what we had is a King who had wed in a strategic alliance, but who continued to bed anyone that he wanted to, whenever he wanted to, with little consideration for his wife. Gwirion's pranks were not only not funny, they were downright dangerous, and when Noble pranks back it is almost to the point of killing the man who is supposed to be his best friend. Isabel is cool and distant, and when she does lose the heir that is so needed, it is in such a way that is just not likely to occur.

At the point where I have given up, Gwirion, who has hated Isabel vehemently since she has arrived, has just seen her with her hair down, and suddenly there is a strong attraction between them. Because I always take a peak at the end of the book, I have a fair idea of what happenes next and I know how it ends, and again, just don't see how it is likely that that could possibly happen when you have a king and queen involved. By the way, there are only a couple of times over the years where reading the ending of a book did really, really spoil for the reader, and this is one of those times.

The author is a screenwriter, and I don't know if part of the idea was to try and sex up historical fiction, and to make the plot as dramatic as possible, but it didn't work for me. I have in the past borrowed other books by this author and never managed to read them. I am still interested in reading The Fourth Crusade for example, but it will be a while before I will be ready to give her another go.

Rating: DNF
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Post by Misfit » Mon February 9th, 2009, 2:12 pm

Thanks DL. I read this several years ago when I was just getting into HF and recall enjoying it, but I doubt I'd do very well with it now. I tried another of hers, Revenge of the Rose, and I don't think I made it to page 100 before it hit the wall.

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Post by Ariadne » Mon February 9th, 2009, 3:37 pm

Marg, I read this book for review a few years ago and did finish it, but I had the same exact reaction that you did. I love medieval Welsh settings and was so looking forward to reading it, but I found it over-the-top and unrealistic, especially the ending.

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Post by LCW » Mon February 9th, 2009, 6:33 pm

I gave up on this one too at around page 150! The first time I read it I gave up at page 50 then tried again a few months later and just couldn't get into it. There's too many books and too little time to force myself to schleck through a novel I'm not enjoying!
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. --Arnold Lobel

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Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
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Post by Rowan » Mon May 6th, 2013, 5:28 pm

SO glad I came to see if there was anything reviewed here by this author. Went to Amazon and her books are featured front and centre for me. I wrote down this and another title - Crossed - because it's about the Fourth Crusade. I think I will remove both titles from my list.

We have similar tastes in historical fiction (though we diverge at historical romance) so I know I can trust your judgement. :)

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