My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Yet another fantastic audio experience from the great Tim Gerard Reynolds.
Here’s the thing about audiobooks: no matter the book, you’re almost entirely dependent upon your narrator. A good reader can make even an okay story a little better, and a terrible reader can make even the most heart-stopping, breathtaking tale put you right to sleep. Tim Gerard Reynolds — whom I frequently refer to by his initials, TGR — is one of those first kind. He can make even a story that, objectively, had I been reading it, would have been a 2.5-3 star book into a 4-star book (c.f. my review of Legend of the Galactic Heroes).
I picked up this book from Audible because of TGR, and ended up finding myself a really fun story. I had previously read Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns and, while I didn’t really enjoy it all that much, I found Prince of Fools far more enjoyable. Our protagonist, Jalan, is a self-described coward who loves both the drink and the ladies. And there’s something I can’t help but admire about that honesty; that Jalan never lies to the reader about his own failings. Sure, he may try to hide many things under bravado to other characters, but his “conversations” with the reader (his inner thoughts) show us how he really feels.
I have a bad habit of blanking unpleasantness from my mind—something I’ve done since I was a child. They often say the best liars half-believe their lies—which makes me the very best because if I repeat a lie often enough I can end up believing it entirely, no half measures involved!
Through a brief, but violent event instigated by the mysterious Silent Sister, Jalan finds himself magically bound to a great, hulking Viking named — I kid you not — Snorri. And this bond isn’t something that Jalan can just ignore; these two both undergo a physical sensation of wrongness whenever they are separated. Basically: they’re stuck with each other. The playboy, ne’er-do-well prince, and an honour-driven Viking on a rescue mission. They come together in order to try and find someone who can destroy their magical bond, and their bromance becomes one of my favourites I’ve read.
Especially as they have to deal with the forces of hell — or, I suppose it should be, Hel, since we’re dealing with Norse mythology here — and try to not kill each other in the process of trying to free themselves. I love relationships like this, especially as these two are the perfect foils for each other while, at the same time, bringing out the best in each other.
Also, best part for me: no romance. Not a single romantic subplot or any of that nonsense and thank goodness for that. First of all: it would not have fit within this story and including it probably would have killed the book for me. Second: it’s all the about the bromance and seeing people develop an alliance, albeit an uneasy one.
It’s a great ride, with imminently likable protagonists and enough mystery left that I’m itching for the next one.