4.8 8
by Lilli Thal, John Brownjohn

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Mimus is as luminous and entertaining as Cornelia Funke's Thief Lord or Inkheart, yet Lilli Thal has created a dramatic and spellbinding universe all her own. The dark Middle Ages jump to life in blazing color in this world of adventure and imagination.

Two mighty kingdoms are engaged in endless, merciless war, but change appears imminent.


Mimus is as luminous and entertaining as Cornelia Funke's Thief Lord or Inkheart, yet Lilli Thal has created a dramatic and spellbinding universe all her own. The dark Middle Ages jump to life in blazing color in this world of adventure and imagination.

Two mighty kingdoms are engaged in endless, merciless war, but change appears imminent. King Philip is meeting his archenemy, King Theodo, to sign a peace treaty. But King Philip and his men are tricked and consigned to the squalid dungeons of King Theodo's castle. Soon, his son, 12-year-old Prince Florin, is lured to the castle, where the same horror awaits him.

On a whim, King Theodo decides to make the captive crown prince his second Fool, trained by Mimus, an enigmatic, occasionally spiteful, and unpredictable court jester. To add to Florin's misery, he and Mimus are fed a daily portion of gruel, forced to live in a dark, damp tower, and required to entertain the court on demand. But events ultimately turn for Florin and the other captives. They escape and it is Mimus's intervention that helps make it possible.

Mimus is a stunning novel that will take readers in its grip and hold them until the last page is turned. Through the brilliant rhymes, jokes, and wordplay of Mimus, the unceasing action and compelling events are sprinkled with lightness and humor.

Editorial Reviews

Selected as one of the Best Books for Young Adults, 2006 by the Young Adults Library Services Association.
The Guardian Special Book Week Supplement
Sinister and ambiguous story... No rollicking fantasy, the ideas here are as disturbing as the story is enthralling.
— Jan Mark
Almost unbearable suspense.
Canadian Materials
Teens will enjoy this story of an adolescent's courage under times of unbearable cruelty. Highly Recommended.
— Libby McKeever
London The Times
[TIMES UK Round Up of Christmas Books for Children 2006 selection] Mimus by Lilli Thal is a fireworks display. A wonderful, highly intelligent entertainment! ...a stirring medieval adventure story ... The book is superbly written, and John Brownjohn's masterly translation from German somehow does justice to it. I hope he wins the Marsh prize.
The Guardian Special Book Week Supplement - Jan Mark
[Chosen as one of the "Best Books for Tween to Young Teenage"]: In this sinister and ambiguous story, heroics are the prerogative of those who are free to be heroes... No rollicking fantasy, the ideas here are as disturbing as the story is enthralling.
Booklist - Holly Koelling
[Starred review:] This outstanding translation from the German brings an author with rich, complex, and very clever storytelling skills to American teens. They will be both fascinated and horrified by the barbarity and grit of the times... this is a sophisticated and engrossing historical tale by a writer who brings exceptional attention to detail, character development, and theme.
I love this book and wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. This medieval fairytale was as charming as it was captivating.... This is a tale of a boy who is taken from his home and placed into the most humiliating servitude. The relationship that builds between him and the cantankerous Jester is borne of necessity, pity and loneliness. The ending shows that, although they were forced together, the result was a solid friendship that demanded unquestioning loyalty and self-sacrifice. I loved it -- and I want to see the sequel (read it and you will see what I mean).
Canadian Materials - Libby McKeever
I thoroughly enjoyed this complex tale of betrayal, treachery and survival. Thal has wonderfully captured the strength of human spirit that can endure when someone is driven to exist at such a base level where hope is almost lost. Her characters are compelling and resilient, and teens will enjoy this story of an adolescent's courage under times of unbearable cruelty. Highly Recommended.
After years of devastating war, Vinland's King Theodo offers peace to Moltovia. At the celebratory feast, treacherous Theodo enslaves Moltovia's noblemen and makes Prince Florin an apprentice to Mimus, the court jester. Florin must endure endless humiliations and trials, and each misstep costs his imprisoned father dearly. But Florin finds an unlikely ally in Mimus, who shows him surprising kindness and offers hope of escape. Older teens might be unable to relate to young thirteen-year-old Florin, but the blend of humor-at times crude, off-color, or cynical-and dark drama has teen appeal. Sometimes the translation from the German is awkward, and the pace is initially slow. Nevertheless Mimus is a richly rewarding tale of complex characters. By the end, readers will sympathize not only with Florin, but also with Mimus and even King Theodo. This alternate history is recommended for libraries serving dedicated fantasy lovers. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Firefly, 398p., Trade pb. Ages 11 to 15.
—Tracy Piombo
Children's Literature
Will peace come to Moltovia after years of battling with neighboring kingdom Vinland? The Moltovians are eager to believe so, and when the mistrusted Count Tillo brings a sealed message from the King, asking for Prince Florin to join him at Vinland's court for the signing of the Peace Treaty, even the suspicious Councillor agrees. Betrayal by Vinland forces Florin into the jester's hands, where he becomes just another performing "monkey" kept in the king's stable. Or does he? And is the jester just a trickster, or is he a trickster with a heart? Young Prince Florin learns to navigate a court riddled with betrayal and deception. He makes friends in odd places—including the scullery and the torture chamber—and discovers what true honor and friendship, as well as evil, are. This exciting epic, set in a mediaeval world rich in complexity, is both hilarious and touching. A great read for a rainy day or the quiet hour before sleep. 2005, Annick Press, Ages 9 to 14.
—Elisabeth Greenberg
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-As this complex novel opens, Prince Florin is awaiting word of his father's negotiations to end the protracted war between Moltovia and Vinland. When the boy is summoned to Vinland for the celebration of the war's end, he finds treason and trickery, as King Philip and other Moltovian leaders are now prisoners, and he is apprenticed to Mimus, King Theodo's jester. Florin's former life of luxury is over as he lives in the same tower as the king's menagerie, faces near-starvation, and is not permitted to leave the castle. His harsh training as a jester gives him new skills, but he also has to learn self-control to survive. Plots against King Theodo and help from the enigmatic Mimus give Florin hope and lead to a dramatic conclusion. Thal has created a realistic world, both through her descriptions of its scenery and the varied characters she places within it. Florin's suffering never becomes pathetic, and he matures realistically as a result of his experiences. Mimus, King Theodo, and dozens of minor characters have roles to play and are given convincing motivations and behaviors. This is an unusually well-realized adventure, set in an alternate Middle Ages. It will have strong appeal for fantasy fans.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)
900L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the first chapter:


"But the sorceress avenged herself on the prince by imprisoning him in a stone tower without a roof. Deprived of shelter he was scorched by the sun and soaked by the rain and snow. And the sorceress commanded a raven to fly over the tower once a day and let fall a thimbleful of water and a morsel of food as black and bitter as wormwood..."

Tanko fell silent. The other boys sitting beside him on the tree trunk stared at him expectantly. Florin could feel the prince's parching thirst, the taste of wormwood on his tongue.

"What then?" Senna insisted. "What happened to the prince after that?"

Lost in thought, Tanko bent and picked up a round piece of moss from the forest floor. Stroking it as if it were a furry little animal, he went on:

"The prince groaned aloud in his distress, but all that answered him was the silence of the sky and the howling of the wind. And the sorceress, having considered how to increase his sufferings, commanded an eagle to -- "

The boys gave a jump, startled by a loud snapping of twigs in the undergrowth.

"What an impressive sight," said a familiar voice. The four youngsters sprang to their feet at the sound of it. "There they sit like a row of ringdoves, the future masters of Moltovia, shuddering at some old wives' tale. Why trouble to go to the exercise yard? Let old Count Ursio teach his straw dummies to fence!"

The bushes parted and a gray-haired man stepped into the clearing. Short and wiry, he was nimble and vigorous in his movements and had a face like tanned leather. Although Count Ursio was very old -- or so he seemed to his pupils -- he still wore the leather tunic and iron shin armor of a swordsman. He proceeded to examine the four youngsters like an officer inspecting his troops. Having looked daggers at each of them in turn, he came to a halt in front of Tanko.

"Why not finish your story?" he demanded, rocking belligerently on his heels.

Tanko stared at the tips of his toes in sheepish silence.

Count Ursio drew a deep breath. "Teller of fairy tales!" He spat out the words like the coarsest of insults. "You're nothing but a dreamer!" he barked like a furious mastiff. "Go take your tales and sit with the washerwomen! It's no wonder any farmer's lad can unhorse you! You aim to be one of the king's knights? A fairground huckster -- that's all you're fit for! I'll give you a handbell, then you can join the clowns and fire-eaters and entertain the rabble in the streets!"

Radbod, who was standing beside Tanko, tittered despite himself. He would have done better not to, because Count Ursio promptly rounded on him.

"And what of you, my boy?" He pressed Radbod's head back with two fingers under his chin to force the youth to look him in the eye. "What will your noble father say if I send you home to your fine castle? What if I advise him to tie you to your nursemaid's apron strings for another few years before he sends you back to the royal school of knighthood?"

Although nearly thirteen, Radbod was -- much to his sorrow -- short for his age and slender. He swallowed this insult with his lips pressed tightly together.

"But here's the biggest buffoon of all!" The old count left Radbod and drew himself up in front of Senna, who was almost a head taller. "You think you're the best of this wretched bunch? You hope to succeed Sturmius as the prince's bodyguard?" The louder his voice became, the more Senna seemed to shrink. "Tell me something: What would you have done if a horde of vile Vinlanders had burst in on Tanko's fairy tale? Uttered a spell and turned them into toads?"

Senna tried to speak. "But Count Ursio, there aren't any Vinlanders so close to Montfield Castle, you know that full well."

"Look over there!" barked the old fencing master, With outstretched arm, he indicated a tall youth leaning on his sword at the edge of the clearing. "Is Sturmius sitting down with you fools? No, he's keeping watch as befits the prince's bodyguard. He's a dependable fellow!"

Sturmius gripped the hilt of his sword, trying not to look too proud of himself.

The old count walked past them all again. "A washerwoman..." he growled contemptuously, "a babe in arms... a buffoon..." He clasped his hands together as if in prayer.
"Holy St, George, noblest of warriors, assist me! See to it that these youngsters grow up at last!"

Florin bit his lip to suppress a grin. "You've forgotten me, Count Ursio," he said politely.

The count gave a little bow. "It does not behoove me to rebuke you, Your Highness," he said. "You must always set your companions a good example -- no one knows that better than you."

He took an hourglass from the pocket of his tunic and set it down on a tree stump. "You'll all be at the exercise yard before the glass empties," he growled. "Complete with armor, swords and shields -- or you'll regret it. And don't take it into your heads to turn the clock back!" With a last menacing glare, he disappeared into the trees.

"Brrr!" Radbod shook himself like a wet dog after a rainstorm.

"Trust the old fox to steal up on us on foot!" said Senna. "We'd have heard his horse half a mile away."

"If he had his way, we'd never leave the castle," Tanko said plaintively, "and would go to bed armed to the teeth."

"Count Ursio sleeps in full armor every night," Florin added. "What on earth will he do if peace really comes?"

"He'll invent some new threat," Tanko predicted, "and bully us even more. To Count Ursio, sword drill and swordplay are as necessary as breathing."

"It looks as if we'll be fencing in the rain," Radbod said, with an appraising glance at the sky. "But who cares?" He mimicked Ursio's voice. "What will you do in battle, you milksops? Ask the vile Vinlanders to hold off until the weather improves?"

Tanko cast a worried glance at the sand in the hourglass, which had run nearly halfway through.
"We'd better go."

"There's no hurry." Cool as a cucumber, Senna produced an ivory pin from his pocket. Having carefully dipped it in some pitch oozing from the tree trunk, he bent over Count Ursio's hourglass. "First I want to know if he survives.

"If who survives?" Tanko stared at him.

"The prince in the tower, of course," Senna replied as he neatly thrust the pin through the hourglass's leather case. The pitch clogged the trickle of sand, which stopped abruptly. "Just imagine, a thimbleful of water and a morsel of wormwood a day! Our prince grumbles if ten of his favorite dishes fail to appear on the table at once." He nudged Florin in the ribs. "It's a miracle you remain so thin, Your Highness."

"Food certainly sticks to your ribs," Florin retorted. "Three years at Montfield Castle have doubled your girth as well as your height!"

"Don't be envious!" Senna withdrew the pin with a jerk. "Well, friends," he said contentedly, "now we've solved that problem. what would you say to making a little detour on the way to the exercise yard?"

"The hideaway!" Florin and Radbod exclaimed together.

The hideaway was an abandoned hermit's hut that stood not far from Montfield Castle, concealed by a thicket of fir saplings and bramble bushes. The boys had stumbled across it by chance while hunting deer -- a meeting place during the winter days to come.

"But we can't!" Tanko eyed the useless hourglass apprehensively.

What People are saying about this

This wonderfully written epic will chill your blood, tickle your funny bone, and warm your heart.

Meet the Author

Lilli Thal has a master's degree in medieval history, art, and archeology and has won multiple awards for her three previous young adult novels. She lives in Germany.

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Mimus 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Congratulations to Lilli Thal on her first place 'Gold' win in the 2005 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards! Translated from Thal's native German by John Brownjohn, 'Mimus' is a prodigious tale of a young prince who is forced to become a 'Fool' when tricked by his father's old enemy, King Theodo. The experience is humbling for the sheltered Prince Florin, who doesn't understand why King Theodo loathes his family so deeply. Revenge is taken upon the entire kingdom of Moltovia and Florin's father, King Phillip. The story has a subtle message regarding the double-edged sword of revenge and the need for forgiveness, even if the crimes committed are horrid. There's also humor weaved skillfully on the pages. The banter between Mimus (King Theodo's Jester) and Prince Florin, who becomes the Jester's pupil, is very witty. The jokes and riddles lighten the horrors of torture and war. I'm hoping to find a sequel to Mimus, for I already miss the 'poetic jousting' between the Jester and Prince Florin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book I wasn't expecting to be at all the most thirlling book ever, ( i am a book worm I luv to read books) I read all the time and I know what books I want to read , and one day the librarian told me to read this book called " Mimus." I objected at once but she checked it out to me anyway. I read and read and now I own the book , I just can't keep my nose out of this book. I love it. I think the author did a great job on everything that they wrote. I hope you all read this book because it is the best book ever. It makes you feel like you are there watching this boy while he is growing up to be come a man. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that this book is an adventure for a young prince. The boy who is going to travel to place where is father is captured and is now a jester for King Vinland. It's an amazing story!!! I just love to read it over and over again. It is just one of the books where you actually can feel how the boy is feeling. You should totally buy this book because it is an amazing one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truly a masterpiece, one that will definitely be enjoyed by all. Lilli Thal's writing, even through translation, is amazing. Her characters are wonderfully played, Mimus himself especially. A book I'd reccomend to all of my friends, and potentially force soem of them into reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I do not lie, this book was amazing. It was full of suspense, action, and humor!! I loved Mimus!! He stole the show!! This book was well written for all of its twist and turns and a great job to the translator! You wouldn't have ever known it was once in German!! Certaintly not lost in translation.
DallasFabulously More than 1 year ago
Mimus is a thrilling novel about two countries at war, Moltovia and Vinland. When it looks as though peace is at hand, Vinland captures the king of Moltovia and his son, Florin. Florin is then forced to become the apprentice of the court jester Mimus. This book, by Lilli Thal, is full of different emotional and physical challenges for Florin, while he discovers that jesters are worth little more than animals. Will he ever return to his old life as high royalty or will he stay as the jester of Vinland for his entire life? The overall writing is great, and the characters are very interesting. There are some areas where I feel that the grammar is incorrect, but that is probably because the book was originally written in German. I would recommend this book to any age group. It is a must read!! Reviewed By:DevinDefinitely
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book in my school library and wasn't expecting it to be at all good.'Not from how the cover looked or anything, it is just that my school library doesn't have many good books' Then I started reading it and found that I could not put the thing down. Soon I was done. Now I find myself wanting to read it again. The next time I go to the book store, I am going to buy this book. Thank you, Lilli Thal, for this very enjoyable read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Awesome book, but it would have been nice to see Florin be a little bit more of a static character, but I suppose if you too were raised as a prince who¿s every whim had been catered to you¿d be just as annoying and spoiled. Also here¿s a good question about Florin's friend Tanko, did he die in the fire?Too bad Florin didin't learn a thing or two from his puckish jester pal.