St. Martin's, Jan 2004, 23.95, 304 pp.
In 1204 AD, Pope Innocent III declares the Fools' Guild as the most dangerous enemy that the Christian hierarchy faces, even more perilous than the Saracens, due to their subversive mockery of church hypocrisy. He sends an army to devastate the guild. Though they are Fools, these are not fools so they hide in the Black Forest (thankfully it is summer). The members heed the words of leader Father Gerald as he tells a morality tale from the annals of their history that explains why they must continue even though outlawed.
In Denmark, three men were in a power struggle to claim the throne. As civil war explodes, another claimant patiently waits to usurp the throne. The Fools' Guild dispatches Terence to observe one of the contenders Duke Orvendil. Upon Terrence's arrival, Orvendil's son renames him Yorick. Major double crosses and murders become the norm as Danish blood flows freely and no one trusts anyone else. Fools like Theophilos, alas he knew Yorick well, was a key player as they destroyed some of the more vile pretenders and their followers. Still he wonders if back in 1157, he and Yorick crossed the line as he has hid his role and his ungainly heritage even from his beloved Claudia.
AN ANTIC DISPOSITION uses a tale within a story to develop a deep morality tale as the prime story line though that is a flashback.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner