Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence (The Red Queen’s War Trilogy, Book One)
“I’m a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery.” – Jalan Kendeth, Prince of Red March
The Red Queen is one of the most feared monarchs of the broken empire. More imposing than the armies at her command is her formidable will. She will do anything, pay any cost, to win the secret war that she has been waging behind the scenes for decades. The Dead King and his necromancers are her most recent opponents in this conflict and she knows, with the help of her sister and closest advisor, a half blind, mute witch known as the Silent Sister, that things will only be getting worse from here.
Her grandson, Jalan, tenth in line for the throne and completely content with his role as minor royalty, wants none of it. Jalan holds no greater aspirations in life then to spend as much of that life drinking, gambling and seducing women as is possible. His terrifying grandmother and her even more terrifying sister can keep their secrets and their wars so long as he can keep his comfy life and his rooms at the palace. Unfortunately for him, the Silent Sister and fate have other plans in mind.
Whether carefully orchestrated by powers greater than himself or by accident, Prince Jalan soon finds his life inexplicably intertwined (and magically linked) with a massive Viking man, Snorri Snagason – honest, kind, brave and, for some strange reason, fond of Jalan – and the two soon find that they have become very active pawns on the Red Queen’s chessboard.
A great fantasy book, with a well-built world that reveals itself a little bit at a time, but its true strength is its portrayal of the two main characters; polar opposites that somehow manage to form an effective and entertaining team. Snorri makes you want to be a better person. Jalan, who would be infuriating with his selfish cowardice if he weren’t so open about it (going so far as to advocate it as a way of life), makes you feel like you are a better person. Recommended for older high schoolers that enjoy fantasy with antiheroes and/or odd-couple pairings.
‒ Review submitted by Zach B.
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