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The Fool's Tale is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through medieval Wales, told from three primary points of view: that of Gwirion, court Fool; King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallon, known as Noble; and Isabel, Noble's newlywed queen and niece of his sworn English enemy. Gwirion has a tenuous position to uphold: He is both the court jester and the king's best friend. He alone may criticize Noble, provided he does so with wit, and he repeatedly takes public liberties that would mean immediate execution for any other royal subject.
Noble wishes to quell the deep animosity that exists between Gwirion and Isabel, who must each fight for their share of Noble's attention; but this pursuit is overshadowed by his need to protect his kingdom from both English invaders and other ambitious Welsh princes. As the king becomes consumed with maintaining power and strives to establish contested borders, other boundaries within his court are suffering breaches, and with much greater potential risk.
Though it is Gwirion's role to turn things at court upside down with his truth telling, it is also his role to stay forever a winsome and clever fool. Noble considers him irreplaceable but, with the threat of his loss, finds himself fighting inner battles that are much more challenging and infinitely more dangerous than the mere securing of borders. (Spring 2005 Selection)