The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is an historical fantasy set in central Europe circa 15th century where the magic and myth unfold against a backdrop of a Church struggling to suppress growing heresies. The majority of people and place names are transliterated from Polish, so they tend to have an over abundance of consonants that make it a little difficult for this native English speaker to read quickly. Hidden within this forest of letters are quite a few obscure [archaic] English words that I had never encountered before ... and which reading on the Kindle app made them fun little Easter Eggs that I could easily look them up. All of this reinforces the 'Twilight Zone' feeling that the world where all of this happens is in another time and place, vaguely familiar and at the same time weirdly different. The dialog was also held nuance and euphemisms to beat the band and the verbal sparring just as amusing as the rest. I don't think that I have had as much fun with the English language in quite sometime.
The MC is one Reinmar of Bielawa, a young physician caught in a rather indelicate position and force to flee for his life. Being a well educated man, he quickly comes to the attention of the wrong people (aka inquisition) as such are know to cavort with heretics and sorcerers (There are so few of them and they must stick together). Perhaps even he dabbles in the forbidden arts. As the cast of characters quickly expands, it becomes ever more difficult to figure out who the good guys are ... and Andrzej skillfully weaves in references to historical events that would make a punmeister blush (and had me laughing out loud) ... because Gutenberg's innovation would never be allowed to succeed and Luther is the name of 'cheeky cat' who likes to spread out on tables. Of course Reynevan is a young fool ... worthy of the Tower of Fools if not for his companions. It is precisely because of his brash naivete that gives the reader one misadventure after another, slowing introducing more of the hidden mystery of the world (where maybe there are not so few of them after all). Alas ... at the end we have not resolved much else out three main characters are still living and ready for part 2. I would have preferred some closure on something; but it was not to be.
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.