Thank you so much to Orbit Books for the eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.
- Title: The Tower of Fools
- Series: The Hussite Trilogy, #1
- Author: Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French
- Publisher & Release: Orbit Books, 10/27/20 (original 2002)
- Length: 576 Pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes but apparently not for easily offended people
The synopsis from GoodReads:
Reinmar of Bielawa, sometimes known as Reynevan, is a doctor, a magician, and according to some, a charlatan. When a thoughtless indiscretion finds him caught in the crosshairs of powerful noble family, he is forced to flee his home.
Once he passes beyond the city borders, he finds that there are dangers ahead as well as behind. Strange mystical forces are gathering in the shadows. Pursued not only by the affronted Stercza brothers, bent on vengeance, but also by the Holy Inquisition, Reynevan finds himself in the Narrenturm, the Tower of Fools.
The Tower is an asylum for the mad, or for those who dare to think differently and challenge the prevailing order. Escaping the Tower, avoiding the conflict around him, and keeping his own sanity might prove a greater challenge than Reynevan ever imagined.
Oh Reynevan, part of me thinks that him and his entire lot needed a turn in the asylum. After bedding a knight’s wife and apparently falling madly in love (which she clearly didn’t return), Reynevan sets off on a series of misadventures when he should honestly be fleeing the country.
This is a very historically dense book, with many names and details that bogged the pace down quite a bit. That said, I don’t know a darn thing about the Hussite wars so I felt like I learned SO much, and it was interesting too to see why the wars started and how the church kind of just devolved into heretical “witch hunts” and went to the crusades. There is more history than fantasy but it felt so real that I had more than enough to keep my imagination going.
The atmosphere felt appropriate too, these religious groups hated each other. There is suspicion and people were encouraged to rat out their neighbors for clemency. Someone is killing merchants, the Knights are on their way out, and wallcreepers are turning into humans and making dark deals. I know a lot of people aren’t liking all the Latin left in the book but like the prayers weren’t spoken in English and do y’all really care what they say? Even the bits left in sentences make more or less sense if you know anything about word roots, and if not, I doubt much is being missed.
I did just love the characters too. Scharley had me literally CRYING I was laughing so hard during one totally fake exorcism scene. I didn’t realize that Sapkowski had a sense of humor but the banter and conversations and occasional one liners from side characters are amazing, and I think David French did a great job bringing the characters through the translation. Reynevan himself is a moron though, he got so much great advice and ended up ignoring all of it, captured, and imprisoned instead. Riding through the towns and hearing the different townspeople’s interpretations of happenings and politics was interesting too.
I think this series is really going to heat up in book two, with the wars starting and a lot of the setting and exposition out of the way. I will definitely be reading on when the next book comes out!
Thank you so much again to Orbit Books for the early copy!