St. Martin's, March 2003, 23.95, 288 pp.
The Fool's Guild turns out jesters and troubadours and sends them out in the world to entertain the various classes. They are also brilliant intelligence gathers who work behind the scenes to try and maintain the peace and when that is impossible influence the nobles into situations that will settle hostilities. Theophilus, a very good Fool, is sent by the Guild to Acre in the year 1191 to help his colleague Scarlet the Dwarf end the Third Crusade and bring peace to the region.
The two Fools divert supplies meant for Richard the Lionhearted sending them to the city of Tyre whose leaders are allowing the refugees displaced by the war to live in a tent city outside the walls. The Queen of Jerusalem Isabelle and her husband Conrad, the Marquis of Montferrat supply them with food whenever they can. Scarlet who is devoted to his queen urges her to marry Champagne when her husband is murdered. When the crusaders return home Theophilus goes with them but he has to return years later and to finally figure who was behind the conspiracy that led to Conrad's death.
Readers will be amazed by what the Fools can accomplish as spies working behind the scene to maneuver political events. Theophilus is a fascinating character who operates on different levels with different people. His skills as an entertainer enable him to spy on the nobles when they are plotting something because they underestimate the intelligence of a Fool.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner