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Mimus Hardcover – September 3, 2005

23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 8-11. The medieval kingdoms of Moltovia and Vinland have been engaged in a bitter and destructive war for years, but an end may finally be in sight. Twelve-year-old Prince Florin of Moltovia is called from his childhood games to his father's side for a peace celebration hosted by King Theodo in Vinland. Upon his arrival, Florin finds it has all been a terrible ruse; the King of Moltovia and his guards are chained in the castle's dungeon, and Florin is forced to apprentice to Mimus, Theodo's seemingly cruel and certainly repellent court jester. If Florin, in a motley suit, bells, and donkey ears, fails to learn his new role and amuse King Theodo, his father will be killed. 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, and by young Florin's humiliating decline from powerful kingdom's rightful heir to soulless beast of entertainment housed in the castle's bestiary. Although the story wraps up a bit too neatly in the end, this is a sophisticated and engrossing historical tale by a writer who brings exceptional attention to detail, character development, and theme. Holly Koelling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 10
  • Hardcover: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Annick Press (September 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550379259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550379259
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Diana C. Cook on September 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a good read--similar to many novels of heroic fantasy. The hero is a 12 year old prince who is betrayed by his enemies and must survive to win back his kingdom. But a number of things make this novel unique. First of all, the book is quite good at showing the character of the young prince. He has to endure and survive.

In most heroic fantasies, the protagonist triumphs by power or success in evading the enemy and winning allies. We experience the forces and struggles of good vs. evil. The hero's success is always underscored by failure to submit and fighting back.

But in this book, the hero must survive imprisonment and learn to handle defeat. That is quite a challenge for a young prince who was trained to be number one and never to show weakness.

The title, "Mimus," is the name of the king's fool--a court jester who is universally despised. The book is quite good at showing the role of the jester in medieval court life. Jesters entertain by a variety of skills as well as "gross-outs" similar to those of the crudest vaudeville shows. If they fail to please, they may be whipped or starved or even killed. The young prince is apprenticed to such a jester and must learn to survive with all of his intelligence, courage, and physical fitness. But it is Florin's social skills and flexibility that enable him to prevail in his new position.

Throughout this novel we find that things are not always black and white. That is what I enjoyed most about this book. The ending is so much more complex than a simple restoration of the prince to his role as head of the kingdom and humiliation of his former captors. Florin has been transformed by his experiences which become part of his character as he matures--not just a bad misfortune to be forever left behind.

I enjoyed this novel and recommend it.

Diana Cook

Woodside, New York
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chrissy K. McVay VINE VOICE on July 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.

Chrissy K. McVay
author of 'Souls of the North Wind', Silver winner in 2005 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kaila on January 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am victim to what many other reviewers have said about this book, I picked it up on a whim and didn't cherish high hopes for it. Within the first chapter though, I could tell I would enjoy reading it. Lilli Thal's writing style borders on romantic, entwining fantasy and poem seemlessly into her prose. Normally I hate books that do that, and I usually skip over the songs the authors put in as I can't be bothered to read them, but every tale and every silly song that she wrote enhances the story. Each line has a second meaning, and it's up to you, dear reader, and our young hero to decipher it. I personally can't wait until someone else I know reads it so I can discuss the book at length!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By molly on January 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book on a whim, in a shipment of a lot of other books. It wasn't the one I was particularly looking forward to.

But...wow. It was amazing. Dazzling, spectacular, original. And amazingly well-written, even though it's a translation...good work, John Brownjohn! It's not black and white, but woven with multiple shades of gray, portraying the evil King Theodo as not-so-evil, Florin's own father as not-so-perfect, the haughty princess Alix as somehow kind as well, and the seemingly cold and heartless Mimus as a toughened but tragic individual. I particularly liked the scene where Florin is being held by dagger-point by Theodo's henchman, and Theodo's son by Florin's father's. They're at a stalemate, unmoving, until Mimus breaks in (greeting the guards) with, "We're playing an amusing game called, 'If you stab mine, I'll stab yours!' I'm acting as mediator." A few paragraphs later, when Florin's father king Philip asks what Mimus suggests, the jester replies, "Turn yourselves inside out and let the wind blow through your hearts. Turn the sky upside down and start afresh. Leave the dead to the dead and beg forgiveness of the living. And, since you won't manage to do any of that, sit before the fire and weave baskets!"

Well said.

Rating: Very Good
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kay on April 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mimus is one of the darkest fantasy novels I've ever read. I have no idea what possessed Booklist to mark this as "Grade 8-11". This is not a children's story, though the protagonist is a child, which may have confused them. I don't mean to imply that it's too much for 16-year-olds, but there's no reason not to label this a tale for adults. Cruelty and humiliation are trademarks of Mimus, as are beautifully biting wit, subtle relationships, and an absolutely magnificent translation.

The tale opens on the idyllic scene of friends sharing stories, but for the next 200+ pages, be prepared for something else. The vast majority of Mimus involves a humiliated prince forced to perform as a jester for a cruel, merciless king. This book wastes little time describing magnificent architecture or beautiful scenery. Instead, you'll get straightforward but lovely language that makes every sentence count and amplifies the personalities of Prince Florin, the jester Mimus, and the terrible King Theodo.

Mimus at first appears to be a sick, cruel creature with no pride or sense of honor. Well...the lack of pride remains, but along with Prince Florin you may find yourself warming to him. His jests are entertaining even from the pages, and as the story progresses it comes to light that Mimus has a heart and soul, and even his own kind of honor.

Prince Florin is a vivid and likable character. Despite his many talents, I found him so easy to relate to, and the prose is so well-translated that I generally felt his every emotion. This left me on the edge of my seat at many moments, making Mimus, despite its length and strange focus, an altogether spellbinding novel.

In addition to all that, I found Mimus strangely comforting.
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