January 08, 2014

A Fool's Errand

by Maureen Fergus
Razorbill
978-0-670-06765-7
528 pp.
Ages 12+
October, 2013 


(If you haven’t read the first book in this series, The Gypsy King, please do so before reading this review which contains a spoiler for the first book. A Fool’s Errand begins with the final revelation from The Gypsy King.)


With the final scene in The Gypsy King, a servant reveals that Persephone is the long-lost and older twin of the Erok king, King Finnius, and the true heir to the Erok throne. Fearful that this will threaten his claim as heir to the throne, the evil Regent Mordecai, who has been manipulating the king and the country to his will, has the servant killed. Likewise, the lives of Persephone and Azriel, as well as a Gypsy boy named Mateo, are at risk until Azriel claims to be the son of the former Gypsy King Balthazar and can locate the secret pool of healing.

Threatened with the death of her brother King Finnius, Persephone promises not to seek the throne, and shares one last wonderful day with her newly-discovered brother before heading off with Azriel on his quest to find the Pool of Genesing for the physically-deformed Regent Mordecai. Unbeknownst to them, Mordecai sends his henchman General Murdock and members of his New Men army to follow them, with strict orders to kill them if they find the Pool or if they are not diligently seeking it. But there is also a cloaked man with an unclear mission who follows all of them.

After a stop at the Gypsy camp where a momentous event passes, Azriel, Persephone, Rachel who is an Erok girl who looks like Persephone, and two Gypsies, Tiny and Fayla, head out on their quest, seeking the Khan Warriors first, then the Marinese and finally the Gorgishmen for any clues they may be able to provide about the Pool's location.

Though similar to the action-filled plot of The Gypsy King, A Fool’s Errand is based on a series of adventures that Persephone and Azriel undertake, hopeful that they are always one clue closer to finding the Pool. Pervasive in their quest is their romance which, while initially shaky due to Persephone’s lies, is catapulted to before the two can both acknowledge their deep caring for each other. Azriel’s honour and chivalry demonstrates his love for her far before Persephone even recognizes her’s for him. But readers can be reassured that, though their squabbling is endearing, Persephone and Azriel find their way to each other, eventually, and it is very sweet.

Perhaps some believe that the foolishness indicated in the title deals with Persephone and Azriel falling in love but there are many characters who could be seen as fools in A Fool’s Errand. There are those who believe in the Pool, those who believe they will find it, King Finnius who trusted Mordecai for years to rule the kingdom for him, Mordecai who continues to lust for Persephone and sees her actions as evidence that she cares for him, Mordecai who trusts the treacherous agreement he makes with Lord Bartok, General Murdock who is convinced he is always in charge of circumstances, and even those who believe the lies Mordecai speaks each time he opens his mouth. You'll need to judge for yourselves who are the fools but I'll follow Shakespeare's suggestions that, "A fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." (As You Like It, Act 5, Scene 1)

Sadly I may have to count myself as the fool, never expecting Maureen Fergus to end A Fool’s Errand on a cliffhanger, as she did with The Gypsy King. Of course, I was fortunate to have A Fool’s Errand at the ready to appease that longing for a happy ending. Now, while the reader may guess at Persephone’s "circumstances" at the conclusion of A Fool’s Errand, there is no way to see how Maureen Fergus will resolve the newest twist in her plotting. Waiting without anxiety until the third book is released seems a foolish endeavour right now. But, with an abundance of fools, I will at least be in good company.

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Relief! I've heard from Maureen Fergus who tweeted that Book 3 in the series is called Tomorrow's Kingdom and is scheduled for release in July of 2014.

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