CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 12. . . .November 22, 2013
Maureen Fergus opens her young adult novel, A Fool’s Errand, with the above scene which directly connects to The Gypsy King, the first novel of the trilogy. Persephone and Azriel are trapped and seem to face certain death until Azriel makes the brilliant move of first insulting and then bargaining with the Regent Mordecai. Azriel convinces their captor that, if released, he and Persephone will find the mystical Pool of Genezing which is fabled for his healing waters. They will bring some water back to Mordecai and help him become whole once again. Of course, Persephone and Azriel have no intention of keeping their part of the bargain, and Mordecai not only sends spies to watch the two as they travel but also intends to kill them as soon as the pool is located. Readers are immediately drawn into the world of treachery and intrigue of the evil Mordecai and the valiant efforts of Persephone and Azriel to thwart him and keep the newly crowned King Finnius on his throne.
Fergus maintains the same cast of characters whom readers met in the first novel of the trilogy. Persephone is independent and capable and is determined to help her twin brother maintain his rightful place as King of Glyndoria. Azriel is her quick-witted and brave counterpart and supports Persephone wholeheartedly. They are an adventurous and daring team who face danger without flinching, as well as a couple with a romantic bond which seems to grow steadily stronger and deeper.
Secondary characters include the evil Regent, Mordecai, and his henchman, General Murdock. There is an ongoing secondary plot which concerns Mordecai’s continued efforts to undermine Finnius and, thereby, obtain the throne for himself. He masterminds a plot which concerns not only the king but also Lord Bartok and his daughter, Lady Aurelia. Mordecai is ruthless, and those who stand in his way are either tortured or, if they are lucky, killed. He allows Persephone and Azriel the freedom to search for the healing pool but under the condition that they return within 100 days or those closest to them will suffer. The heroes not only have a daunting quest in finding a pool which may be only a myth, they also are under the pressure of a severe time limit.
Fergus leads her readers through many parts of the kingdom of Glyndoria, and her graphic descriptions make the fairy tale world come alive. Persephone and Azriel visit the mountains inhabited by the Khans and face not only the dislike of the local people but avalanches and deep mountain crevasses. Their quest then leads them to the Island of Ru after a hair-raising trip through the Great Forest. Stormy weather means they must stay on the island longer than expected, using up many of their precious days yet gaining more tidbits of information regarding the magic pool. Eventually, Persephone and Azriel return to the mainland and the Gorgish people who, apparently, have the vital map which will lead to the pool. Imagine Persephone’s anguish when they learn that the pool is within the Mines of Torodania, the one place Persephone fears above all others in the kingdom!
At over 500 pages, A Fool’s Errand is a long novel, and yet it flows quickly. The personalities of Persephone and Azriel, their friends and their enemies, keep readers engaged and cheering the pair as they pursue their quest. A plot which takes the heroes to different territories, each with its own terrors, keeps readers on the edge of their seats as the action and adventure continue. There are moments of terror woven together with moments of light-hearted comedy. There is ongoing adventure woven together with tenderness and romance. In other words, this interesting and well-paced novel has something for everyone. The cover would suggest that the intended audience is young adult female readers, but undoubtedly males would enjoy the action as well. And certainly anyone who reads A Fool’s Errand will be impatient to know the denouement of the entire story which will be revealed in the trilogy’s final volume.
Ann Ketcheson is a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French who lives in Ottawa, ON.
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