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The Fool's Tale

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,483 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
A spellbinding voice in historical fiction makes her remarkable debut in a moving and beautifully rendered tale of love and politics, loyalty and duplicity -- and the extreme lengths to which such forces drive us
The year 1198. All of Wales is in turmoil.King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon, known to his people as Noble, is struggling to protect his small kingdom from treacherous Wel
Kindle Edition, 526 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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Mar 16, 2008 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
Rebecca Huston
Oct 03, 2013 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
Jul 11, 2007 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
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly lengthy read but entertaining! I've had this one for a while but have been putting off reading it because I'm a fan of shorter books, but I'm glad I finally got to it. After finishing it and looking back, there really wasn't a lot of action - not all that much happened- but it's a great character study of the three main characters (Noble, Isabel, and Gwirion). A solid historical fiction novel.

3.5-4 stars!
Mar 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jessica Adams
Jul 17, 2009 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.
Jul 29, 2008 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 10, 2008 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
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
Feb 02, 2011 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
Aug 19, 2012 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
Dec 06, 2009 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 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
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
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Really well done book. Galland is a writer who will grow on you. A somewhat historical novel, but more a novel in a historical setting. The story revolves around the intricate relationship of a king, his fool who also saved his life and a Queen, the pawn in a political marriage who fails at her one job of producing an heir.

The interaction of their lives and loves is the grist of this book. To say much more requires spoilers. Kings may have extreme powers but the heart can not be commanded again
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was recommended to me by a Facebook friend, and I am so glad! This is readable, interesting historical fiction, without jarring modern notes (nothing that felt too modern to my tastes, anyway). I got frustrated with Noble and Gwirion's insistence on turning *everything* into a game or a prank (although that was kind of the point), but the manipulations in those games (and outside the games too) kept things interesting. And there was a shocking twist at the end, which I did not see coming! I ...more
Nov 04, 2008 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.
May 04, 2009 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 13, 2015 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.
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book so much, I own two copies. My heart couldn't help but go out to all 3 characters!
Jun 11, 2013 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.
Jun 10, 2011 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!
Jul 13, 2009 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...
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-a-fan, unfinished, why, eh
2.5 Stars

Honestly, I couldn't even finish it and that's rare for me. The writing was mediocre, the plot was unoriginal, and the characters poorly developed. Mostly, it was the characters that really bothered me.

It reminded me of high school in one of those YA series or in those old 90's teen movies, just in 12th century Wales. "Noble" (that nickname bothered me for no reason other than it's obvious intent to relieve the use of Welsh names) was the popular jock with a hidden playful streak, Isabe
Brian Robison
[sigh] I tremendously enjoyed the first 3/5 of this book, at which point everything slowed to a crawl for me. To Galland's credit, she takes great care to trace the psychological trajectories of two of the main characters, so that a dramatic change in their relationship feels logical and realistic ... and the last 30 pages or so resume the plot's previous brisk clip, though with a change in tone that feels entirely appropriate (and realistic, given the medieval setting).

Kelly Tarr
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Why do “literary” writers torture their readers?

Because writing is therapy, and writers write to appease their rage. You, dear reader, are the sacrifice. Oddly enough, the writer persona is a psychopath to make Hitler proud. This is NOT to diagnose N.G! It is only to protest the character of the King.His character wobbles off center because it is not credible for stress to change his character. A psychopath is someone with a character disorder. I am quite upset about these ending.. It turns out
Taylor Rose
Lots of very slow, unsexy sex and fluff. Romance novel in denial? Something about it felt decidedly unfeminist and left me pretty uncomfortable, but my friend insisted it was worth finishing. I will say--while nothing really happens (all the actual plot is basically summarized into short paragraphs, with only the emotional/sex bits really described to any extent)--the ending is FANTASTIC. If you can read quickly and finish this on your off time at work one day like I did, push through. If you're ...more
Margaret Alexander
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
“The king was valuable and the king was dead. He didn’t want to be valuable.”

“Awkward or socially shy occasionally, high strung infrequently, but submissive never.”

“'He keeps me completely dependent on him for everything. I live in a state of permanent humiliation. Liberty? You have no idea what you’re talking about.'”

“To them one’s exclusion from the populace, not one’s adoration by it, defined rulership.”
Carla Terry
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a really good story and well written. I love historical fiction and this was really good! Plot twists and I didn’t see the ending coming. I’m really sick of Hollywood stories always having a happy ending. I hope if they make this story into a movie, they don’t change the ending,,,
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guilty pleasures! 1 24 Aug 07, 2008 10:27AM  
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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
More about Nicole Galland

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