Book review

Sebastian Darke, Prince of Fools by Philip Caveney (2007)

Actually he's not a prince, and nor is he much of a fool.

He's supposed to be a jester. He's got the stripey yellow and red tights and the hat with bells on. And he's got the fancy caravan with his name painted on the outside: Sebastian Darke, Prince of Fools. He has even got the jokes. So much was left to him by his father, who was a pretty good jester. But as we all know, it isn't really the jokes, it's the way you tell them that counts, and Sebastian doesn't seem to have the knack. Max the buffalope is his sharpest critic:

'I'll be your audience,' Max assured him. 'And I'll make allowances for the setting. Let's face it, you won't have many other opportunities to practise, will you? The next time you perform it will probably be for the king and his court.'
Sebastian swallowed. It was not a particularly encouraging prospect. 'All right then,' he said. 'I'll try... but please don't interrupt until I've finished. And try to laugh in the right places.'
Max rolled his eyes but refrained from commenting further.

Perhaps Sebastian should consider another career... Anyway, he has to make a living somehow so he's off to Keladon because he's heard that they need a court jester there. It's a long journey through bandit country. There isn't much supper and things are looking pretty bad until Cornelius crosses their path, Captain Cornelius Drummel, killer of Brigands. He's a lively travelling companion, he's a fantastic warrior and tough as old boots, even if he is only three feet tall.

Possibly they are the strangest trio that ever travelled to Keladon, but as we soon discover, they work pretty well together, under pressure:

They turned at bay, their swords raised to defend the curtained doorway, and found themselves confronted by a half-circle of scowling, armed-to-the-teeth warriors.
There was a long and terrible silence as the Brigands gathered themselves for the onslaught.
This is it, thought Sebastian. We can't fight them all. We're done for.

Aha! Perhaps Sebastian is more of an action man than a funny man, and even if he isn't actually a prince, he has definitely met his Princess:

'Are you all right in there, lad?' he heard Cornelius shout.
'Uh...yes, I'm fine. It's just some stupid girl who tried to brain me with a' - he looked around for a moment and found the culprit lying on the ground - 'a chamber pot.'

It's OK. Things are bound to get worse before they get better.

I think you'll enjoy meeting Sebastian. He's got a lot to prove, to match up to his father. Does he make it? See what you think.

What can I read next?

He's a bit of an adventurer, our Sebastian. Follow the action in the next book:

  • Sebastian Darke, Prince of Pirates

Like magic? Have a look at these spooky books by Katherine Langrish:

Or this rather gothic one by Jon Berkeley:

Or you might enjoy the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

Sebastian Darke, Prince of Fools features in these lists: