THE FOOLS' WAR by Lee Kisling


Age Range: 11 & up
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 A historical fantasy set in a fictitious European country in the mid-16th century, as the Ottoman Empire was reaching its greatest extent under Suleiman. ``Mulberia'' is menaced by Turks, but its king is so addlepated by unrequited love for the Lady Libby that he's heedless of the threat. The clergy have fled; only Clemmy--a peasant lad who learned Latin from a priest--can read the prayers in an ancient book owned by a mysterious blind hermit, who announces that he has come to save the king from his despondency. Powerful but imperfect, the prayers have unintended side effects- -Libby falls in love with Clemmy, not the king--but Mulberia is saved by the village idiot, whose sincere but clumsy prayer, offered in desperation, accidentally turns the invaders' warhorses into sheep and their swords into spoons. Presumably Clemmy and Libby live happily ever after; the king settles for her cousin. Real history rests ever so lightly on this offbeat tale and its quirky, appealing characters: Clemmy's kleptomaniac mother; the lame, lovesick king; the hermit, who dies when his lifetime's allotment of words is expended; a huge shepherd who reluctantly becomes Mulberia's only soldier; the sweet-natured idiot; and the loyal, unassuming Clemmy, unexpectedly brave as he tries to bluff Suleiman. Spiced with wry humor and with bits of untranslated Latin and some wonderfully high-flown prose. (Fiction. 11+)

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1992
ISBN: 0-06-020836-8
Page count: 166pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992