France during the Holy Crusades of the 1100s, The Jester is a tale regarding a quest for justice by the common person and manages to combine a love story, adventure, and mystery all into one. While far from Patterson’s usual fare, this work of fiction is a David and Goliath tale where you continually cheer the underdog on and can’t wait to see those responsible for his pain brought to justice.
The protagonist is Hugh De Luc, an indentured innkeeper, who joins the Crusades after being promised his family’s freedom in exchange for his service. The Crusades, however, are not pertinent to the main story line other than that they set the stage for Hugh’s acquisition of a holy relic that’s value is unknown to him but ends up costing him everything he holds dear as others swear to possess it at all costs. This sets in motion the key storyline of The Jester as Hugh goes in search of the monsters responsible for his pain, even resorting to taking up the role of a jester to gain the trust of those against whom he seeks retaliation. Fortunately, for Hugh his wit gains him allies and allows him to uncover truths beyond his imagination.
While some reviewers have stated their disappointment that the work does not faithfully adhere to historical facts, I believe that fiction is written for enjoyment and non-fiction for fact so when I read The Jester it totally met my expectations. I do agree with some reviewers, however, that this book with its graphic scenes of sexual behavior, torture, murder, and rape make it a totally inappropriate choice for a young audience. Overall, though I found it to be a story about a reluctant hero, a common man, who after facing great tragedy in his own life was still able to master the will and courage to empower his friends to fight their own war against injustice while finding within himself the power and strength to love again.
The Jester, while providing the reader with an enjoyable 100% modern high-speed thriller, is filled with the brutality and inhumanity common to the era of the crusades when Knights in shining armor didn’t save damsels in distress but rather slaughtered innocent victims like cattle and burned entire villages for the cruel liege lords. While I have always enjoyed Patterson’s novels I must admit that this may be my all time favorite since it veered away from the common everyday mystery genre and allowed me some insight into a long ago period in human history. [tags]The Jester, James Patterson, Andrew Cross, Crusades, historical fiction, inhumanity, murder, rape, knights, lieges, nobility, common man, uprising, injustice[/tags]