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The Folly of the World Paperback – December 18, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Smart, funny, and full of wild exuberance."—Lauren Beukes

"Every page is saturated with wickedness and mischief. Bullington's fans will be happy to see him bring his trademark dark humor, gritty detail, and loopy characters into a new gruesome landscape."—Publishers Weekly

"Delightfully grim"—Interzone (UK)

"This is both a cleverly entertaining story and a fascinating exploration of the human psyche."—britishfantasysociety.co.uk

About the Author

Jesse Bullington spent the bulk of his formative years in rural Pennsylvania, the Netherlands, and Tallahassee, Florida. He is a folklore and outdoor enthusiast who holds a bachelor's degree in History and English Literature from Florida State University. He currently resides in Colorado, and his blog, as well as fan art, news and exclusive content can be found at www.jessebullington.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (December 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316190357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316190350
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jesse Bullington spent the bulk of his formative years in rural Pennsylvania, the Netherlands, and Tallahassee, Florida. He is a folklore and outdoor enthusiast who holds a bachelor's degree in History and English Literature from Florida State University. He currently resides in Colorado, and his blog, as well as fan art, news, and exclusive content, can be found at www.jessebullington.com.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Justin Blazier on December 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
In a flooded 15th century Holland there are very few opportunities available. Jan may have an amazing opportunity at a life full of riches, but it's hidden somewhere at the bottom of a flooded town. To reach his greedy goal in the dark moldy depths, Jan enlists the help of a wild young girl with a knack for swimming. Add Jan's slightly psychotic but ever-faithful partner Sander to the mix and you have yourself a watery adventure with a cast to remember.

In both of his previous books, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and The Enterprise of Death, Jesse Bullington went to great lengths to defy our expectations in every way. His characters were immoral, his language was foul, his violence was graphic, and his subject matter was often nauseating.

His fans will be pleased to know that The Folly of the World is full of the same decadence, degeneration, and gut-wrenching twists and turns we've come to know and love. The Folly of the World proudly carries the Bullington torch of depravity, but it's applied in a more focused, less liberal manner -- like using guided missiles instead of napalm.

The characters in The Folly of the World are as you would expect from Jesse Bullington -- flawed, violent, and disturbed -- but this time he has taken extra care to build a backstory that lets us understand why they turned out that way. Empathy can be a cruel tool for an author to wield. This was done so well that I was horrified to find myself actually feeling sorry for these despicable people. Readers who didn't like The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart because of the characters may feel differently about this novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Molly Tanzer on January 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
In "The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart" Jesse Bullington turned the tropes of the high fantasy novel on their ear; in "The Enterprise of Death" he gave us a sword and sorcery epic through the eyes of an African lesbian and an obscure early Renaissance painter. "The Folly of the World" is somehow even less classifiable, being neither historical fiction nor fantastical tale--but it is just as rewarding as his earlier works, if not more so. Fans of Bullingon's trademark foulness, difficult-to-like characters, decadent prose, and brutal literary depictions of violence will find much to like; new readers will figure out PDQ that Bullington is a weirdo of the first water but one with the chops to pull off what he so cheekily attempts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Talbot on September 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can't tell you much about the book without spoiling it. All I can say is that it is a) extremely weird, b) unsettling, and c) that how much I liked it totally baffled me. It subverted my expectations over and over again, didn't do things that I thought I required a book to do, and ultimately SHOULD have been extremely unsatisfying. But it wasn't unsatisfying and somehow I absolutely loved it, and felt a great emotional attachment to the characters. I talked about this book for days afterwards. I'm really glad I read this, but I have no idea if you would be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By inner exile on March 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bullington's third medieval historical fiction lacks the supernatural element that was present to some degree in his debut novel (having not read it I cannot speak for his second offering), although the author would have had the chance had he opted to reveal how the 'Lazarus effect' was achieved - to give away more than this would be a spoiler.
Most of the gritty, morbidly humorous story of betrayal, identity theft and revenge takes place in the island town of Dordrecht (Rhine-Meuse delta in the Low Countries), in the wake of the havoc wreaked by the St. Elizabeth flood of 1421, where the intrigues plaguing the hostile factions of Hooks and Cods, which culminated in the historical battle at Brouwershaven in January 1426 (vaguely referenced on pp. 331-42), serve as a background.

True to form, the writer paints flesh and blood characters with dubious motivations and questionable deeds, the chief of which is the odd trio of a male couple consisting of the noble-born, manipulative Jan Tieselen and his paranoid, thugish lover Sander Himbrecht of humble origin, and an unbridled lass named Jolanda, who was purchased from her wretched purple dye-maker father on account of her swimming/diving skills to function as a "submarine draft animal" (p. 209) in retrieving a precious ring - the only one I could occasionally empathize with. As much as context allows, those in the secondary cast are also well fleshed out, including a brief appearance from none other than the infamous Gilles de Rais (pp. 280-90) before he went bonkers.

A major gripe of mine, however, is that the larger, middle bulk of the plot could not hold my attention as intensely as did the first part (up to p.
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By Da Playa on February 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book deserves six stars.

I can add "Folly of the World" to the list of books that forever change how I view them. I've been a tremendous fan of Jesse Bullington since his profane (in every sense), crazy, and wholly original debut, The Sad Tales of the Brothers Grossbart. I was also blown away by Enterprise of Death, a European romp centered on lesbian necromancer who just wants to be loved. But it's Folly of the World where Bullington brings together several motifs from his previous works and creates a tremendously original, shockingly brilliant, and ultimately deeply poetic novel. The profanity and vulgarity are gratefully back as are central characters with serious psychiatric problems. There's a psychopath, a schizophrenic, and a misanthropic urchin girl who needs a new psychiatric condition to describe her levels of distrust. It's the relationship between the schizo and the urchin (and it's not what you think) that brings this beyond the dark historical fantasy that is Bullington's strength. It is almost magical how Bullington refuses to soften the characters but still lets them grow, though, to be honest, it's more Bonsai growth than redwood. I think it's a real tribute to Bullington that he can take two fairly despicable characters and let them become rootable (likeable might be too far, but being honest, I ended up liking them both tremendously). I can't describe how he weaves the profane with violent while still producing a thematically dense work about relationships, socioeconomic status, place, time, and so much more, but I know he did it and I feel better to have read it.

I would be remiss if I didn't give some huge props for the historical treatment as well. There are little details here (like dye-making) that are often overlooked, but these details give an immersive quality where it felt like I was actually in Holland and Zealand in the 1400's.
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