Thirteenth Night: A Medieval Mystery Hardcover – Dec 28 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
"I prefer to leap to conclusions without evidence. It saves time," says Feste, a professional fool. Around this note of obfuscation, Gordon's first novel weaves an amusing sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that, through clever misdirection and deceit, keeps readers guessing. In the first year of the 13th century, the Fool's Guild?a training center and headquarters for jesters and clowns who secretly influence the direction of political events?receives word of the death of Duke Orsino of Illyria. Feste, who nurtured Orsino's affections for Viola years before, suspects foul play, so he goes to investigate, disguised as a merchant. The guild also sends along Bobo, in fool's garb, to act as a decoy. Feste fears that Malvolio, former steward to a wealthy family who became the butt of his songs and pranks, may have murdered the duke in the first step of a long-promised revenge. But after 14 years' absence, Feste is no longer certain of Malvolio's appearance, and every man in town becomes a suspect. The plot becomes further entangled with the murder of Fabian, the new steward to the family that Malvolio once served. Gordon's invention of the guild's code and its many tricks is delightful; his dialogue is pitch perfect. What the first half of the narrative lacks in excitement, the second provides in abundance, as political intrigues?and the characters involved in them?sparkle, delighting readers all the way to the conclusion.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
If Gordon's title expands on Shakespeare's play, so does his plot. Narrator Feste, a 13th-century member of the Fool's Guild (jugglers, jesters, and secret agents), owns up to contriving the main events concerning the Duke of Orsino as subsequently recounted in Twelfth Night. Now, years later, the duke has been murdered, and Feste, traveling incognito as a German tradesman, braves an ocean voyage to investigate his death and perhaps stymie a vengeful Malvolio. Witty wordplay, comical characters, and exaggerated circumstances mark this fanciful and entertaining historical by a lawyer who has previously published nine mystery stories.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The narrator Theophilus does not let us in on all his reasoning, and knowledge until the very end, when he lets the characters in on it as well. Without this knowledge, no reader could solve the mystery before Theophilus does. I find the withholding of information annoying, but it is a typical and traditional technique of the mystery genre (Conan Doyle does it). Still, this is not the book for readers who like to match their wits against those of fictional detectives.
I still recommend the book for an interesting and entertaining read.
That would be pleasure enough, but the plot contrivance on which the book is based is truly brilliant. Gordon posits that the jesters in Shakespeare's plays are all the same person--who is not merely a jester but an agent working for a secret, international guild of fools whose purpose is to keep the barbarity of various rulers and armies to a minimum. The interweaving of the central mystery, plot strands from Shakespeare, and guild intrigue is irresistible. Note: The connection to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is presented so well that it won't interfere a jot if you haven't read or don't remember the play.
The Guild leadership agrees to send Feste back to Illyria to learn the truth and, if necessary, stop any plot led by one of their greatest enemies, Malvolio. Feste disguises himself as a merchant. Another Guild member accompanies him as a jester to throw the spotlight away from Feste. Soon Feste realizes several unnerving facts. People age rapidly in a decade and a half, thereby changing their appearance. He cannot find his foe, who searches for him to complete his act of vengeance while plotting to complete his failed earlier mission.
Either Alan Gordon wears white jackets with special buckles or he is a certifiable genius. No one except perhaps Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead) would rewrite even an iota of the Bard, but Mr. Gordon does so fabulously. Taking up fifteen years after Twelfth Night ended, the writer provides a riveting historical mystery. The story line starts a bit slow like a roller coaster creaking up the first ramp, in this case to establish roles and motivations. However, once cleared, like the rest of the roller coaster ride, the novel is non-stop. The insight into the machinations of the Fool's Guild and the overall era brings to life Medieval England in a manner that would make Shakespeare proud because the Elizabethan influence is not a factor.
Most recent customer reviews
"Thirteenth Night" truly is a five star book. Alan Gordon has done a splendid job of building a new story around the characters of Shakespeare's "Twelfth... Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2001
I thought this book was OK. This is the author's first book, and that is the way it read. I think he did a good job on his first book but I am expecting better on his next.Published on May 7 2000 by Jay Cisneros Jr.
The tale told in this intriguing little book takes place over the 12...er..13 days of Christmas and will be appreciated by those who love the English language and enjoy a little... Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2000 by Dianne Foster
This mystery's jester-narrator is a great character, combining intelligence and a (sometimes wicked) sense of humor. Read morePublished on Dec 30 1999
Gordon's clever working of the characters from the Twelft Night produces a very entertaining mystery. Students who study Shakespear as part of their courses will enjoy this book.Published on May 6 1999 by email@example.com