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Thirteenth Night (Fools' Guild #1)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  777 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
In the 13th-century Europe, a secret organization -- The Fool's Guild -- existed to influence events behind the scene, and one such manipulation was recorded by Shakespeare, in altered form, in his play, Twelfth Night. But now, many years later, the Duke of Orsino is murdered. Feste, a jester with The Fool's Guild, must return to once again match wits with his adversary Ma ...more
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published December 31st 1999 by St. Martin's Press (first published December 1st 1998)
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Lisa Jensen
Apr 13, 2012 Lisa Jensen rated it really liked it
In this delicious debut, Alan Gordon imagines a Fools' Guild operating across medieval Europe whose members—acrobats, jugglers, and spies—are inserted into the palaces and retinues of the wealthy and powerful in hopes of influencing world events in favor of peace, averting wars, solving hidden crimes, and dispensing justice.

In Thirteenth Night, we learn that the name "Feste" was merely an alias for the Fools' Guild veteran known privately as Theophilos. 15 years after the events of Shakespeare's
Caidyn (BW Book Reviews)
Again, another brilliant and hilarious book in the Fools' Guild series. Of course, this is technically the first book. Not as much humor to it since it was laying the ground, and more fiction than history in this historical fiction. I really enjoyed it, just as I have the others. Theo is a brilliant character, and I honestly can't wait until I get to the point where Helga and Claudia come into the story, since I think that they really make it in the later books.

This one took a basis, as I said,
Nov 16, 2009 Neil rated it really liked it
The premise of this series is that the fools have a secret guild which serves as a sort of superspy agency to maintain equilibrium in medieval Europe. Feste (that's how we know him here anyway), the jester from Twelfth Night is a dozen years older, and he's fallen into his cups a bit. When a message comes that Duke Orsino has died from a suspicious fall, Feste disguises himself as a merchant and returns to investigate, suspecting that Malvolio is back and after revenge on Orsino, Olivia, Viola, ...more
Sabrina Flynn
Aug 12, 2015 Sabrina Flynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Thirteenth Night takes Shakespeare's Twelfth Night a step further and weaves a really cool secret organization out of the Fool's Guild. I was not familiar with Twelfth Night at all, and while you don't have to be familiar with the play, I think at least reading a summary of Twelfth Night adds depth to the book.

Feste, the main character, remained a vague figure for me and I didn't really get into the story until over half way through. The writing is quick and witty and low on description, and I t
Oct 02, 2015 Princessjay rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
A medieval mystery in modern vernacular, and an imaginative sequel to Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT, with the Fool's Guild full of multi-talented jester-spys/assassins, maneuvering power behind the thrones.

(view spoiler)

An excellent, generally ligh
Sep 04, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: general, do-not-have
Years after the events of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night a man once known as Feste is told that he must return to Orsino, because although his work behind the scenes on behalf of the manipulative Fools Guild led to a happy ending for some... happy endings don't always last forever.

The Duke has been murdered, and it is up to an old fool to find out who did it. It's a light, well-written mystery with interesting characters and some interesting world-building.
I liked this but I didn't like the ending. It was very interesting from the history side. He writes well. It held my attention because of the red herrings and I didn't know until the end who was up to what. that's the bottom line in a mystery: not knowing who dunnit until the very end and having it make sense. so I gave it 4 stars.
Feb 24, 2015 Dale rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Thirteenth Night is written as a kind of sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night with the action taking place some 15 years later. All the characters are present: Viola and Sebastian, Olivia, the Duke, Toby, Andrew, Maria, and Feste who, this time, is the protagonist and narrator of the story. In this sequel and retelling, it is hinted that Feste engineered the original shipwreck for political reasons, on a mission from the Fool's Guild, a shadowy yet powerful network of court jesters with a missi ...more
Jul 15, 2010 Kathy rated it liked it
ss - nice love story of a werewolf who trains dogs, lost his love because he could not tell her his secret... the bad guys trap him, inject him with wolfsbane... his dogs, and some of the dogs he trained (including his girlfriends) come to his rescue... she follows... helps him - and now she knows and they are together... : )

An interesting premise… 1200's, jesters, ie fools, with a Fool’s Guild that are secret agents trying to influence good & prevent bad, patterned after the First Fool, Chr
Feb 20, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
“Thirteenth Night” is a surprisingly good book, and much better written than I expected it to be. I have no reason why I thought it would disappoint, but I did. And I was wrong.
First off, if you are not familiar with Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” I think parts of this novel will fall flat for you. The author, Alan Gordon, assumes a lot of familiarity with Shakespeare’s play on the reader’s part. The protagonist is a member of the Fool’s Guild named Theophilos, better known as the fool Feste from
I picked this book up because a) I love Shakespeare and Twelfth Night is one of my favs and b) I saw it mentioned on a list of favorite mystery series on goodreads. I'll admit straight off that I had high hopes. Another confession: I haven't exactly read Twelfth Night in almost a decade. I have a feeling my 3 star review is more my own fault than Alan Gordon's.

Thirteenth Night is well written, the characters are nicely fleshed out, and the events are interesting. Unfortunately, something about
THIRTEENTH NIGHT (Mystery-Feste-Orsino, Italy-1200) – VG
Gordon, Alan – 1st in series
St. Martin’s Press, 1999, US Hardcover – ISBN: 0312200358

First Sentence: We were gathered in the tavern to taste the new beer.

*** It’s December 1200 and Feste, the jester, is at a tavern near the Fools’ Guildhall when he receives a message at “Orsino is dead.” Although a play by Shakespeare, “The Twelfth Night,” relates the events somewhat differently, Feste had been in the town of Orsino 15 years earlier. Then,
Oct 05, 2007 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical mystery fans, Shakespeare fans
This book is a sort of sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Duke Orsino, who married Viola at the end of Shakespeare's play, has been murdered. Feste, who is not just a jester but a member of a (very improbable) international Fools' Guild
of entertainers who use their skills to work for the good of society, is sent to investigate. Some of what he finds is depressing -- Viola's brother Sebastian is now a drunk, for example, and Sebastian's wife Countess Olivia is ambitious and lecherous -- but so
Mar 16, 2012 Alethea rated it it was ok
Rating: 1.5..almost OK.
I got through this, I am afraid, only on the basis of the fact that it is built on my favorite of Shakespeare’s comedies. Historical mysteries are a somewhat problematic for me, and this was not a complete success either as a historical novel (a handful of rabid inconsistencies, and a distressing tendency to cram in mention of EVERYTHING and EVERYONE of any import in that area of the world), or as a mystery (I have a particular loathing for limited third person where the a
Aug 02, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
I enjoyed this book because
1. The author imagines events subsequent to those in Shakespeare's play. Since it is a mystery, I was caught up in the possibility of disguise, knowing how identity figures in Twelfth Night.
2. The narrator is a twelfth century "professional" fool. I have a new appreciation for that guy in motley.
3. An historical detective story works well foor me, sending me to the Internet to look up place names, historical events, a couple of saints (a clue) the names of the
Oct 31, 2011 Dawn rated it liked it
I am not a fan of Shakespeare and other than watching the occasional show based on his plays, I am unfamiliar with his work. But despite its basis in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, I decided that this looked to be an interesting book.
The premise of the series is that the fool’s guild is actually a secret society dedicated to the well-being of 13th century medieval Europe. This story follows the events of Twelfth Night by taking us back to Orsino when the spy/fool Feste hears of the death of the Du
May 25, 2010 Carl rated it liked it
I generally enjoy a mystery/thriller when it has something beyond the usual whodunnit. I was unaware of this series until my 92 year old father suggested it. Interestingly, I had just finished Ariana Franklin's newest historical mystery, which takes place in the same era, and even has some similar historical backdrops, e.g., the Roman Church v. one its many "heresies," the Cathars.
The main gimmick is the character of the crimesolver, the Fool from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, as outlined in the
Feb 28, 2009 Janet rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. It's a debut novel and the first in a series. I was looking for a new mystery series to get caught up in but I'm not so sure it's going to be this one. The story was okay but didn't really draw me in. Same with the characters. I didn't find that when I was away from the book I was just dying to know what was going to happen next to Feste/Octavius. I like to become invested in my characters. However, I'm not going to throw in the towel just ...more
Enjoyable first in a series (I've already acquired the next two for my TBR stacks). The Fool's Guild series is set in the late Middle Ages and also brings in the characters from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night., especially in this first outing. Feste is a fool or jester, whose profession makes him a perfect spy -- the Fool's Guild is a sort of multinational CIA or MI-5, with some connections to the Church, whose mission is to prevent bloodshed if possible and maintain a peaceful balance in the world ...more
Pamela Bronson
Mar 26, 2013 Pamela Bronson rated it it was amazing
A delightful mystery that paints a plausible historical background for Twelfth Night and goes way beyond. Who knew that Illyria was really Croatia? You may learn a lot of history, some of which is true, but that shouldn't diminish your enjoyment. I especially enjoyed the Feast of Fools as part of a medieval Christmas celebration. The romance took me by surprise.

One caveat: if you have only recently read or scene Twelfth Night for the first time and can't deal with the idea that Orsino is dead, w
Jul 30, 2009 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel, a sequel to William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, is the first in the Fools' Guild series, which posits that the fool from the aforementioned play, Feste (AKA Theopolis, and also Lear's fool), works for a Medieval European Guild that acts as both the power behind the throne and as entertainers. Author Gordon paints the world well, setting Feste/Theo in a world that combines the Bard's works with real history, and the book will work regardless of how well the reader knows the original ...more
Ginny Whitehouse
Jan 23, 2016 Ginny Whitehouse rated it it was amazing
I started reading the series when Laurie R. King (Beekeeper's Apprentice) recommended it on Facebook as an Epiphany mystery. It picks up where Shakespeare's Twelfth Night leaves off with a focus on the jester Feste. Alan Gordon develops a world where the Fools' Guild exists to promote peace and prevent injustice. The entire series is an intelligent historical mystery ... at least I believe it is now that I have finished the third book. However, I am snowed in and there are no ebook or audiobook ...more
Jul 19, 2010 Tripleguess rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this more than #7; the overall tone of the book is not nearly as debauched, though I had the same problem of the most important background characters being so nearly indistinguishable from each other that, well, I couldn't tell them apart. Viola and Olivia stood out, Andrew almost so, and "Bobo" of course. Perun too. The others were more like placeholders than characters. I guess I could have stopped and made a list but I didn't bother. It was still an entertaining read and did convinc ...more
Feb 10, 2008 Jenett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up at my local library, when the most recent book in the series had a blurb from Laurie R. King, one of my favorite authors.

It's a set of mysteries (I think there's six right now: this is the first) set in the 14th century, and centering around a fool's guild. The first one interlocks with the plot of Shakespeare's 12th Night.

The plot is reasonably tight and fast, there's some thought provoking bits, some amusing bits, and a lot of potential. I definitely intend to keep going in the
Sherelyn Ernst
Jan 12, 2010 Sherelyn Ernst rated it really liked it
This was clever and entertaining mystery. I gave it 5 stars for the genre and not because it was the greatest book in the world. It also fit nicely in my pocket so I could read it on the subway without carrying around a lot of extra weight. For those of you who liked Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, this continues the story, with the main character being the fool. This was almost as good as Gordon's An Antic Disposition which was based on Hamlet, again, as told by the fool. What a clever idea--and w ...more
Aug 05, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My second read in this series, and just as good (if not better) than Antic Disposition. I'm clearly reading these out of order, but I kind of like it that way, since it lets me figure out some of the characters' secrets before I realize they're secrets. Once again, the mystery is less important to me than the characterizations and historical/literary details. I've always liked Twelfth Night, and this was an excellent follow-up to the darker elements of the play. I will read more of this guy's wo ...more
Feb 12, 2014 Fservin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-thriller
A very entertaining book, but I read it more like fantasy than history thriller since the frame of mind and langage of the protagonists are very modern, and I did not at all feel like being in the Middle Ages, neither in Italy for that matter.

Un livre agréable à lire mais pas du tout un roman policier historique. Les personnages ont un langage et une vision du monde très actuels, et l'environnement est indéfini. A mon sens , cela se rapproche davantage d'un livre d' "heroic fantasy", sans toute
Danielle O
Mar 14, 2010 Danielle O rated it really liked it
This novel is a sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. If you have read that play, you NEED to read this! The book takes place fifteen years after the play ends, and it is told from Feste's point of view. Feste, who has been away from Illyria for a dozen years, gets a message that Orsino has been murdered. He returns to see whether Malvolio was the murderer... did he actually come back for the revenge he promised??

Well-written and very true to Shakespeare! Twelfth Night is my favorite Shakespea
Aug 01, 2011 Jacky rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.
It continues the story of 12th Night.
Feste is revealed as Theophilus, of the Fools' Guild, summoned to return to "Orsnon" (Illyria) after 15years, as Orsino has been murdered.
Again we get the cross-dressing, the people hiding behind masks & disguises, and looking at some of the characters with new depth.
Clever intertwining of literature & history, held together by the concept of Holy Fools.
Dayna Smith
The first book in A Fools' Guild Mystery series. This tale picks up where Shakespeare's Twelfth Night leaves off. The Duke of Orsino has been murdered and the fool Theophilus, disguised as Feste, returns to solve the mystery surrounding the Duke's death and prevent anyone else in the family from being killed. A wonderful tale of misdirection, political intrigue and double crosses. This series brings 11th century Europe to life. A Reader's Corner highly recommended series.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Alan Gordon is the author of the Fools' Guild mysteries. His short fiction and essays have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, The Drood Review of Mystery and the Medieval Academy Newslet
More about Alan Gordon...

Other Books in the Series

Fools' Guild (8 books)
  • Jester Leaps In (Fools' Guild, #2)
  • A Death in the Venetian Quarter (Fools' Guild, #3)
  • The Widow of Jerusalem (Fools' Guild, #4)
  • An Antic Disposition (Fools' Guild, #5)
  • The Lark's Lament (Fools' Guild, #6)
  • The Moneylender of Toulouse (Fools' Guild, #7)
  • The Parisian Prodigal (Fools' Guild, #8)

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