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The Fool's Tale

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,263 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews

Wales, 1198. A time of treachery, passion, and uncertainty. King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon, known as Noble, struggles to protect his small kingdom from foes outside and inside his borders. Pressured into a marriage of political convenience, he takes as his bride the young, headstrong Isabel Mortimer, niece of his powerful English nemesis.

Through strength of character, Isabel w

Kindle Edition, 526 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Apr 13, 2008 Sammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-the-best
Okay, I seriously have a new favorite author! Nicole Galland has a fun, witty, elegant, descriptive, and flowing way of writing that grabs you at the first page and doesn't let you go until the final word on the last page. Something that was refreshing in my current favorite genre of historical fiction. I know there's a lot of us out there who have become addicted after those Philippa Gregory novels and we're constantly searching for another gem of an author, I've found her for you!

What really m
Jan 14, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read few books that make me think "wow, that would be a great movie!" I think I must read the wrong sort of books. Fool's Tale, however, would make a GREAT movie, and if the author hangs out on Goodreads, I hope she sees this and takes it to heart.

The story of a strange love triangle between a bride of political convenience, a Welsh king of good character, and his Fool--his best friend who lives in limbo, neither belonging nor an outsider to court, neither respected nor scorned, not wealthy n
Rebecca Huston
Oct 21, 2013 Rebecca Huston rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I am happy to admit that I am a history nerd. I love reading about it, seeing it, learning about it, and if I spot something that is set in Wales, I'll happily pounce on it. Especially if it is about the medieval (c. 500-1500 BCE) period of Welsh history.

The Fool's Tale is set in the late twelfth century, when Wales was still independent of English rule, but was divided into a collection of small realms. And all of them are squabbling with each other, ready to murder each other instead of trying
Jessica Adams
Jul 17, 2009 Jessica Adams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very slooow and drawn out; I was rooting for the characters, but they all made such poor, predictable decisions, obviously for the sake of a love triangle. This book had great potential, but the story didn't take advantage of the set-up the beginning of the book provided.

I wanted to love the book; it kept me reading all the way to the end (a testament to the writers ability), but the story and especially the ending, made me feel disappointed that I spent so much time with the book.
Nov 17, 2008 Carole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone desperate for something to read
Much as I love big, fat historical novels (hysterical novels?), I couldn't quite get into this one.

It's set in Wales at the end of the 16th century, and I got very distracted by the Welsh names. There's a pronunciation list of people and places in the front of the book, and I found myself spending too much time looking up correct pronunciations rather than focusing on the story.

This was during a period when kings and other rulers frequently kept a "fool" to keep them entertained. It was interest
Feb 03, 2011 Suzanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“The second arrow hit the king in the chest. He slumped in the saddle with a grunt, groped toward the shrieking children on the palfrey beside him; ignoring his son, he grabbed Gwirion from his precarious perch to haul him closer. They slid to the ground between the two mounts and landed in a heap on the hard dirt road as shouts and horses’ screams broke out around them. For one moment in the midst of panic and confusion, Gwirion thought he was being singled out to help the wounded monarch. Th ...more
Jan 09, 2011 Annika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love, I LOVE this story. I read it first in July 2008, so now it's over 2 years later and I just read it again. And I love it even more.

It's set oh, Robin Hoodish times. Late 1190s Wales. King Richard is on his Crusades and Prince John is on the English throne. He's only mentioned in this book, he doesn't actually have any speaking parts.

The novel centers around "Noble", the nickname of the King of a little Welsh "reeve" and his castle, Cymaron. Noble is everything you think you'd want your K
Aug 19, 2012 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were things I liked quite a bit about this book, and things I disliked quite a bit. Overall, it was an entertaining and often interesting read, with some sizable drawbacks. Set in late 12th century Wales, it mainly concerns the complex relationships between a minor king, his English bride, and his best friend, and the persoanl and political repercussions thereof.

It's on the lighter side of historical fiction, by which I mean that I strongly suspect Galland did not go far enough or
Adrienne Proctor
At the beginning, this book seems dense and intimidating. I was so tripped up about the pronunciation key on the first page that I almost didn't even read it.

But all that goes away fairly quickly. Truthfully, the hardest part to read was the Prologue. Getting through that was all it took for me to get sucked in.

I read this book in a week. No, read isn't the right word. I inhaled this book. It completely overtook me. I stayed up until 3 a.m. several nights in a row because I could NOT put it down
Dec 17, 2009 Suze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to really 'get into' this book (at least 1/3 of the way through!), but I stuck with it and am really glad I did. Towards the end, I couldn't put it down. My one complaint is that it was about 100 pages too long.

I loved the historical aspect (my favorite type of novel) but this book had a little bit of everything - mystery, romance, pathos *and* history. It's about a medieval Welsh queen's love affair with the king's best friend—his profane, hyperactive royal fool.Not a romance
Apr 21, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whoa. The rest of the book pales in comparison to the not-totally-unexpected but shocking ending. I can't get it out of my mind. Having read Sarah Woodbury's time traveler series which takes place during this same era, some of the historical figures were familiar, even though the author admits that this is just a story set during the 12th century and not a historical novel. Some of the situations were so outlandish that my interest flagged at times, but even though I normally do not read books w ...more
Ana T.
"Wales, 1198: a time of treachery, passion and uncertainty. King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon, familiarly known as Noble, struggles to protect his small kingdom from foes both outside and inside his borders. Pressured into a marriage of political convenience, he takes as his bride the young, headstrong Isabel Mortimer, niece of his powerful English nemesis.

Through strength of character, Isabel wins her husband's grudging respect, but finds the Welsh court backward and barbaric -- especially Noble's old
Apr 22, 2015 Mimi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
If I were feeling charitable, I'd give this one and a half stars, but I was so tired of the unrelenting and unnecessary cruelty and sloppy history, I stopped at one. If I wasn't stuck on an airplane with this book, I would have given up.
This is the first book I recommend to anyone looking for historical fiction. Set in 12th century Wales, a mercurial king is wed to a young English woman. Then their already rocky marriage is threatened by the king's bosom friend and "fool" Gwirion. The queen, Isabel, must decide whether her loyalties lie in her increasingly unstable husband and his kingdom, or to Gwirion and her own heart. This sounds more romance-y than it really is, and it's chock-full of interesting history, violence, and cha ...more
Don Maker
This book was called “historical fiction” in the jacket blurb, and for the first part I was confused because it read like S&S fantasy. Okay, I was confused throughout the novel, but by the time I read the author’s note at the end, I understood it was “alternate history”: a few of the characters had actually lived in approximately the time and place of the setting, but any resemblance to their actual lives was purely coincidental. So, if you are looking for sincere HF, give this a wide berth. ...more
Nov 09, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This was an enjoyable read. It sometimes bordered too much on romance for my taste, but it managed to save itself with the intriguing relationship between the three main characters. Not that I don't enjoy a romance now and then, but I detest romance novels masquerading as historical fiction. The ending is really what bumped it up from three to four stars for me, I was worried it was all going to be tied up into a nice little bow and was pleasantly surprised.
Sarah Beth
Feb 11, 2015 Sarah Beth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Isabel, an English lady, is being married to King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon, known as Noble, a minor Welsh king, in an attempt to shore up an alliance between her English family and his Welsh one. Except Isabel learns early on that she will always be second place to Gwirion, Noble's court fool and best friend. What starts as a bitter rivalry between Isabel and Gwirion (predictably) turns into a love triangle that threatens their very lives.

This novel started off well enough. In fact, early on it re
May 11, 2014 Mieke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I debated between rating the book a 3 or a 4 and landed on 4 simply because it did hold my interest and I found it a good read. The characters were engaging and it opened up an area of history I haven't spent much time in (excepting Penman's Welsh novels).

The reason I was debating a 3 is that it felt very long and, particularly for a historical novel that is less rooted in the historical as novel, it didn't need to be; it wasn't covering historical events that took years to march through but rat
May 04, 2009 Ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
I didn't care for this book. I had been wondering whether it was because the author had accurately portrayed the attitudes of the time and I was simply uncomfortable with them because I'm a modern kind of person... but after reading a couple reviews here that specifically mention its historical inaccuracy, I think I just didn't like it. Yay! I feel better about that.
Apr 22, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Fool's Tale is not your usual medieval fiction. It's utterly compelling, with three main characters who are each lovable and hateful in equal measure (I love me some fallible characters). It makes for an excellent history lesson in terms of the relationship between Wales and England during the reign of Richard the Lionhearted (something I knew nothing about, previously). It's also an excellent story of human nature, obligation and power.

There's romance, but it's also not your typical setup.
Feb 25, 2014 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting story, historical fiction by its setting, but more a psychological study of people in particular and extraordinary circumstances (of course only possible in that period). The author delves into motivations and relationships of many kinds but with just enough distance to keep it intriguing and surprising. I'm still analyzing much of the action, and while as I say it was often surprising and sometimes extreme, after consideration I found none of it implausible.
The author's distance
Apr 01, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1198 Wales. The goings-on at the court of King Maelgwn, who became king when his father the then-king was murdered and Maelgwn was saved by his boyhood friend and court fool when their party is attacked by a rival. The fool's job is to dream up and execute outrageous pranks at court to amuse the king and take his mind off the stresses of maintaining his kingdom. A strategic marriage brings in a woman foreign to the court and a rival of the fool for the king's attention. While the period details ...more
Oct 09, 2012 Brenna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wall-banged
I don't often say this about books, but oh my goodness this is a bad one! Absolutely horrible. If you are looking for historical fiction that is actually based on fact, this is not it!
Jun 13, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was so sad this book had to end. Galland had me captivated to the very end and what a great ending it was. I will definitely be reading more of her books.
Apr 03, 2010 Annie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After 4 years of trying to finish the book, I finally did! I don't know where to beging...
Dec 16, 2014 Kyra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I was in for a standard historical novel - a bit of action, a bit of sex, a bit of a yawn, and a bit of popularized history. I didn't realize I would be glued to the edge of my chair (although I actually read in bed), half-laughing - this is a very witty book - and half-dreading the inevitable unmasking of the loving couple.
I highly recommend this book if you love historical novels, if you love lovers, and especially if you love clever language. Yes, it is all a bit anachronistic, but

I picked this up hoping for some strong historical fiction about medieval Wales, and the description on the back sounded promising. Alas, it was not to be.

The basic plot is that Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon ("Noble"), the king of Maelienydd in Wales, marries Isabel Mortimer, who is not only English but also the niece of his archenemy. Noble also has a best friend, a foundling named Gwirion who was raised with Noble and has become the court's fool of sorts. Isabel hates Wales, Noble hates Isabel, Is
Feb 07, 2010 Neil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would probably give this one 3.5 stars if that was an option. I enjoyed it, but I feel a bit guilty about enjoying it.

It's the story of the small Welsh kingdom. As the book opens, its King is murdered by the treacherous English baron Roger Mortimer. His son, the prince, is saved only because his friend Gwirion refuses to reveal his hiding place. Gwirion suffers torture as a result, and this act of loyalty cements the friendship forever. When Prince Maelgwyn, now called Noble, becomes king, th
Jan 13, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a historical romance, it's not the sort of tale I usually read. I picked it up on the recommendation of Neal Stephenson, an author I'm devoted to. It's gripping, though flawed. Lots and lots of sex (without being overly graphic) and the author expertly sucks you into the emotional world of the characters. Unfortunately, everything but their emotions is ... haphazard. Little background is provided, and the author never steps back to analyze or even offer clues about much of their personality. ...more
Jenny GB
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guilty pleasures! 1 22 Aug 07, 2008 10:27AM  
  • The Exiled (War of the Roses, #2)
  • Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor
  • The Sixth Surrender
  • Harlot Queen
  • The First Princess of Wales
  • The Book of Eleanor: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • Nectar from a Stone: A Novel
  • The Canterbury Papers  (Alais Capet, #1)
  • The Mercy Seller (Illuminator, #2)
  • A Rose for the Crown
  • The Perfect Royal Mistress
  • The Reckoning  (Welsh Princes, #3)
  • The Falcons Of Montabard
  • Within the Fetterlock
  • To the Tower Born: A Novel of the Lost Princes
  • The Huntress (The Dark Queen Saga, #4)
  • Lady of the Roses: A Novel of the Wars of the Roses
  • The Brothers of Gwynedd (Brothers of Gwynedd #1-4)
Nicole Galland's newest offering, STEPDOG, is her first contemporary story, after five historical novels (all published by HarperCollins or its imprints): The Fool's Tale; I, Iago; Revenge of the Rose; Godiva; and Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. With a collective of six other authors (including Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear) she co-authored the Mongoliad Trilogy (published by 47N). With act ...more
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