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The Magician and the Fool

3.05  ·  Rating details ·  148 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
For hundreds of years, men have sought their hidden futures in the legendary images of the tarot—but what secrets of the past are harbored by the priestess, the magician, the hanged man…and the fool? The author of the explosive The Patron Saint of Plagues returns with a richly textured mystical mystery exploring the dark heart of one of our oldest traditions.

Years ago, fal
Published March 25th 2008 by Spectra (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Estefanía Cantoral
Tengo la costumbre de terminar los libros aunque no me gusten en su primera mitad, esperando en que mejore o por lo menos la curiosidad de saber cómo concluye, pero con éste libro... Ufff... sufri y estuve a punto de darle el premio a mi primer DNF.
Aburrido, confuso y su historia (ciencia ficción) del Tarot.. Buaa!
Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
The first half of this book was fantastic and engaging and mystical. I found myself almost feeling what the characters did. Fast on it's way to becoming one of my favorite books. Then all of a sudden it got really fast-passed and crappy and ruined the whole thing. It's like the author got tired of writing half way through and just wanted to tie up all the loose ends as quickly as possible and did it very badly. What could have been an epic Paulo Coelho type book of the soul and magical mystery t ...more
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so this is another review of a friend's book.

This book completely blew my mind. AMAZING. I loved it loved it loved it.

It's an alternate history of the tarot, but I know not a damn thing about the tarot, nor do I care, frankly. What it was for me was the story of real people struggling with powers in themselves and in the world they want to deny. It's about friendship and magic and misery and love.

And the ending is an amazing freeform mindblowing chapter in which I lost track of which chara
Dec 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, fantasy, fiction
Years ago, fallen scholar Jeremiah Rosemont left the bitter rivalries of academia behind and now lives a simple nomadic existence in Central America, far from the arguments that once defined his life. But he can't outrun his past... or the dangerous truth that lurks beneath his abandoned studies. Following an enigmatic summons to Rome, Rosemont finds himself at the center of a mystery that dates back to the fall of Troy, the pursuit of a mystical treasure that many are willing to sacrifice fortu ...more
Jason Brown (Toastx2)
The Magician and the Fool.

this book was all over the place. directly following Lamb, it was interesting to read something so off the wall. Half of the book is incoherent. You are reading two different perspectives on opposing sides of the world.

The first is of Jeremiah Rosemont. Rosemont is a art historian who has taken himself out of the world as we know it. he has been disgraced (though you never truly know why). the book opens with him in south America where he is bumming from town to town lo
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book - I would cheerfully give it 4 stars from my own perspective, but following it can be a bit tricky. And explanations would be useful - not lots, but some terms and phrases should be in a glossary or footnoted (I had a similar issue with all the Spanish in Patron Saint of Plagues, but tarot/magic knowledge is less widely known.) But then again, it's a book about a magician (of sorts) so go in expecting some tricks and sleight of hand.
Part of the confusion lies in that th
Clay Kallam
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Barth Anderson's ‘The Magician and the Fool’ (Bantam, $13, 288 pages) is a decidedly introspective book, though there’s plenty of action to disguise the fact that not much is really going on.

Two protagonists, Jeremiah Rosemont and Boy King, are both caught in a modern world with an occult subculture in which tarot cards have real power and ancient forces are calling the shots. Rosemont and the Boy King each must not only unravel the mystery of why they are chosen by these powers to play a part i
Scott James
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have a complaint.

This book is not long enough. I've read other works by this author, and enjoyed them immensely. But while The Patron Saint of Plagues and the The Book of Seven Hands: A Foreworld Sidequest are non-stop thrill rides, The Magician and the Fool is a slow build to dizzying finish.

I was honestly surprised to find I'd come to the end of the book, and backtracked a few chapters to make sure I hadn't missed anything, I hadn't, and it makes me all the more desirous for a continuation o
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers interested in the occult, magic, tarot, mysteries, and gay romance
I think I randomly picked this book up while browsing at the library. I'm not sure what caught my eye about it, but I decided to give it a shot. After a rocky start, the story quickly pulled me in and suddenly was one of those books that I just could not put down . . . until about halfway through. Then the mystery, instead of intriguing me and tantalizing me with little tidbits of revelation, just became confused, a knotted mess. While I loved the final revelation, I'm not sure that it provides ...more
Jun 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I finished this book more confused than I had been in a long time. I've pondered the plot line for quite some time, re-read parts over and over and still have no idea what the author was trying to say. It was easy enough to follow in the beginning...then the stuff about tyros and Etruscan disciplines started and by the time romulus and remus were thrown in there i was lost. I would love someone to explain it to me and if you understand it, more power to you.

One thing that really bothered me was
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Having just finished a different "secret history" book recently and been left largely unmoved, The Magician and the Fool delivers what I was missing: theme and stakes. An academic argument early in the book establishes the parameters of conflict, which are not good vs. evil nor even (as other secret histories) knowledge vs. occlusion, but dominance vs. iconoclasm -- in the metaphor of the book, Romulus vs. Remus.

Near the end, the protagonist Rosemont sees his involvement in the particular confli
Jun 11, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Important lesson: read the entire review. I normally don't because I find the synopses in most of them to be to spoilery. Oof. I got burned here.

This is not a good book, not a good story, not well-written. It's muddled, hard to follow and ultimately just boring. Which is pretty much what the reviewer wrote, which I saw when I went back full of fury to find out who had recommended this thing to me. Oh. No one.

There's a passive protagonist, an irritating ... something. Another mysterious main char
February Four
I am on page 98 and I think I'm done. This book was a Big Idea post on Scalzi's blog. It sounded so good--tarot history and magic!--but is a huge slog. >_< I'm trying to decide if I should continue the book or if I should abandon it for the three other library books I have remaining. The sin: telling too much, not enough showing. I'm not sure I want to finish this book. I might just return it to the library after reading this much, and just be done with it. It's not making me want to read, ...more
Mandi Kahles
Apr 14, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this sounded like a great book with an interesting theme: the history of tarot. THe book was very confusing to me, but I kept reading because I thought that at any minute I would make connections between the characters and it would all make sense. In the end, I did make connections between the characters, but it wasn't some amazing revelation, it was more like science fiction/multi-dimensional worlds based on mythology and tarot. It was a little bit"out there" for me personally.
Apr 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Misha by: Stephani
Shelves: fantasy, lgbt
Loved this book. Although there was a slow bit or two in the middle (and really, just a BIT), most of it kept me very interested. As I nearded the end, I thought I had it figured out. Then I was proven wrong. Then I was proven wrong again. Then I was proven wrong AGAIN!! Wonderful twists. Now I need to get Barth's first book and read that!
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
The author's writing is fragmented and disjointed, disorganized. It seems to me he was writing while under the influence of something, whether hallucinogen or psychosis. He didn't take the reader into consideration by crafting his work into something digestible, didn't lay it out for the reader in mind. It read like he was simply writing for his own pleasure.
Mary Wagner
Perhaps I just don't have the energy necessary right now to focus, but I found the book difficult to follow. I wasn't up for going back and re-reading portions to try to make sense of it. I thought the first part of the book was engaging, and was disappointed that it seemed to fall apart a bit on me.
Cathy Crea
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mysterious, mystical, magical. I never quite figured out all of this book's shifting landscapes, and if I had, I wouldn't have liked it as much.

Key quote: "I think we have a cultural memory of a time when logic did not prevail, when instinct and magic ruled and we routinely bumped up against chaos without it destroying our minds." (p. 259)
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: occult, fiction, mystery, tarot
I read this a few years ago, never stopped thinking about it. I need to read it again for a better review, but it was mystical, magical and mysterious and keeps haunting me. It's responsible for my interest in medieval tarot vs modern. I accidentally happened on this book in the bookstore, I bought it on a whim and I am glad that I did.
May 13, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Great Premise, interesting characters, but ultimately falls apart after a promising opening, veering wildly in the last third into a metaphysical labyrinth of the author's own creation, for which he sadly left no road map to follow.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird
I gave 4 stars to this book because of a weird structure and crazy way to tell the story which I liked more than story itself. I enjoyed the first part of a book more than the second but I found the writing of Barth Anderson haunting, I liked it.
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Just finished this and loved it, from beginning to end. Gorgeous prose, a ripping good story, delicious historical arcana about tarot, ancient Rome, and Etruscan mythology. A wonderful novel, just the right length to while away a couple of weekend nights.
Julie Rose
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the structure, and how nicely that made sense at the was a great "a ha" moment. Loved the surreality, and the pounding pace toward the end. I don't know if I necessarily understood everything Anderson was trying to do, but I certainly enjoyed the ride.
Gayle Ellison-Davis
... a wild surreal ride in the end. well done. interesting metaphors of the tarot cards The Magician and The Fool. Romulus and Remus, and possible split personality ... magic ... tarot ... intrigue with a nod toward David Lynch, I think.
Robert Melos
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is at times a fun read. Granted very confusing, but interesting. The relationship between the characters is fascinating. It bears a reread at another time. Perhaps then it'll make more sense.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
I liked this book, but to be honest I didn't understand vast swathes of it. Rekindled my interest in Tarot, however.
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Really confusing to read. I had noooo idea what was going on most of the time, it was as if I read the sequel to a book instead of the first.
Beth Dawkins
Aug 07, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got to the middle of the book... I think that this is a type of book that either you love or hate. The style is very imaginative, and different. At times hard to follow. It really wasn't for me.
mario de lima
Mar 28, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring, goes nowhere... waste of time...
Nov 26, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Got to chapter 7 before I gave up. Just too weird/mystical for me and too many Greek/Roman origin words I had to look up to get things to make some kind of sense.
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Barth Anderson's imaginative fiction has appeared in Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Alchemy, Polyphony, and a variety of other quality venues. He received the Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction in 2004. Regarding his first novel, The Patron Saint of Plagues, (Bantam Spectra; 2006), Salon said, "Anderson has some serious writing chops, and he delivers a page turner that is at once a medical thrille ...more
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