Jerry's Reviews > The Jester

The Jester by James Patterson
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Jul 23, 10

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Read in April, 2003

Unusual and violent medieval tale stretches belief...

Patterson and co-author Gross have certainly crafted an unexpected offering, set literally 1000 years before Alex Cross, Lindsay Boxer, and the gang come along. A French innkeeper, and our leading man, Hugh de Luc, leaves his wife Sophie and his hometown to seek ultimate freedom from his life of servitude. He joins the Crusades in 1096; then we wade through many chapters of violence and gore as men on both sides of the argument die brutal deaths. Using laughter to save his life, and precursoring his role as a Jester (hence the title) through much of the book, Hugh returns home (actually as a deserter) only to discover his wife was abducted by the evil duke. He sets out for revenge and eventually assimilates into the staff of the evil lord. He is helped along by a noblewoman named Emilie, itself an unlikely scenario, only to stir feelings in both akin to his love for his own wife. This lack of fidelity (although not consummated until after his wife's ultimate death) seemed incongruous with the undying love expressed throughout the first half of the book -- yet these feelings rapidly transfer right onto Emilie with little further provocation.

Before it's over, Hugh "the fool" leads a ragtag band of farmers and other common folk to overthrow not one but two fiefdoms, with such total success that he becomes the darling of the people and starts a movement toward the abandonment of the serf system.

What's tough to accept out of all this is the odds against which this lowly guy survives and flourishes, his role in finding a cherished religious relic, the love affair with the noblewoman, his success against organized armies (and other evils), etc. While Patterson's usual story-telling abilities are in full evidence, the early-on gore and the relatively unbelievable premises we are asked to swallow, one after another, make for a quick but only mildly entertaining read. While we applaud the author's departure from the norm, we need about half of the unbelievable wrinkles removed to give this book a facelift worthy of a more serious look.

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