Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince of FoolsIt’s a two-extra-curricular-book month because my ereader ran out of juice at a most inconvenient moment: I’ve just finished Mark Lawrence’s excellent Prince of Fools, the first book in his new series (and inexplicably Number One in Amazon’s Norse/Vikings section – just because it’s got a Viking character? When it’s High Fantasy (well, this being Mark, low High Fantasy!) or Heroic Fantasy (or Unheroic Fantasy), depending on where you want to position it) . . . still, the important thing is that Mark Lawrence gets better with every book, and he started with the bar set very high indeed. Instead of a psychotic 13-year-old, we have Prince Jalan Kendeth, third son of the Red Queen’s third son, a cowardly princeling interested only in wine, women and gambling – until he becomes trapped in an enchantment with Viking hero Snorri ver Snagason which is going to entail them travelling to the frozen north to face their enemies at the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice . . . Prince of Fools is published by Voyager.

That’s the upstairs book. The downstairs book was published three years ago by Quercus, but I’d only just started JFB and so it passed me by . . . until last week when, casting around forsomething (having read the wine label, the ketchup bottle label and the local freesheet – again) I spotted The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan on the charity pile and got completely caught up the academic controversy about whether birds were originally dinosaurs – or if they are instead a completely different and unrelated species . . . Oh, and then it turns into a murder mystery. Charlotte Barslund has done an excellent job of translating from the Danish and I’m looking forward to discovering if the irascible young single mother Anna Bella Nor (named after the apple) is going to beat The World’s Most Irritating Detective in the race to discover who killed her supervisor, Professor Helland . . .

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