J.V. Jones
Master and Fool (Volume 3 of The Book of Words)
Warner Aspect 1996

This is the third part of the Book of Words-trilogy. If you haven't read "A Man Betrayed", don't read any further.

Melli is now a widow, but also pregnant. And the child she is carrying is, if he is a boy, the true heir to the Duke of Bren. That fact is not appreciated by King Kylock and Baralis, the sorcerer who is the man behind the young military genius' throne. When she, together with her father, Lord Maybor, and her sworn protector, the ex-knight Tawl, and Tawl's young companion Nabber escapes the castle, a rumour is spread - that Tawl murdered the Duke, and that Melli and her father are part of a conspiracy. The rumour is enough for Jack to leave his not at all successful apprenticeship to a magician to come to Melli's rescue.

In this third and conclusive part of The Book of Words, J.V. Jones moves farther away from the fantasy stereotypes her series is steadily rooted in. When I read the first book, I was quite sure how everything would end - now the story has moved in unexpected directions. And not only the story. The characters have developed in unexpected ways, too. Lord Maybor has changed - from being a selfish fop, becoming an almost heroic fop. Kylock has turned out to be completely mad, and Tawl is slowly coming to terms with his personal history. None of it is inplausible, all considered, and it's a pleasure to read a series that suddenly moves beyond your expectations.

Still, I wouldn't rate this trilogy among the very best. The world is more or less a standard fantasy world, the Seers of Larn being one of the few really good inventions. The magic is also - more or less - standard fantasy magic, Larn being an exception here too. The story-telling is good but not enchanting. A little too colourful, a little too burlesque to completely suspend my disbelief when reading it, it doesn't force me to keep on reading day and night like the true master-pieces do. It's absolutely worth reading, though, like the works of Robert Jordan or Stephen Donaldson. And it's actually getting better all the time.

Karl Henriksson

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Books by the same author:
The Baker's Boy
A Man Betrayed

J.V. Jones' home page

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Henriksson & Henriksson 1997.