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The Lark's Lament: A Fools' Guild Mystery (Fools' Guild Mysteries) Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 1, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Gordon's winning sixth medieval mystery (after 2004's An Antic Disposition), series hero Theo and his wife, Claudia, both members of the Fool's Guild, visit Cistercian Abbot Folc—previously a troubadour known as Folquet—to solicit his help preserving the guild from enemies in the church. But that night, someone murders one of Folc's monks and leaves a threatening message for the abbot next to the body. When Folc demands that Theo find the man responsible, Theo and Claudia's quest takes them deep into the recesses of domestic and religious life in 13th-century France. At the center of the mystery lies a haunting song, which implores "Sweet Lady Lark, why will you not fly?" To discover who's threatening Folc, Theo and Claudia must identify the Lark. While Gordon makes confusing and distracting shifts in first-person point-of-view between Theo and Claudia, the husband-and-wife jesters are charming, the story behind the murder unpredictable yet entirely believable. (May)
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From Booklist

The sixth Fools Guild mystery opens on a cheerless note. It's the year 1204, and the guild is under attack from Pope Innocent III, its members in hiding. (Gordon's delightful premise posits that the thirteenth-century Fools Guild, made up of court jesters, functioned as an intelligence organization run by the government.) Series hero Theophilos the Jester, one of the guild's top spies, is sent to negotiate with Folquet, a former guild member (and our hero's old friend), who is now an abbot with connections to the pope. The hope is that Folquet will provide aid in keeping the guild alive. But Theophilos' mission grows more complicated when a monk is murdered, and Folquet makes him a deal: you find out whodunit, and I'll do what I can for the guild. But if you fail, I'll bury all of you. Theophilos' investigation takes him to some surprising places, including the distant past of his old friend. As usual, Gordon's vivid writing style and his smooth blending of history and mystery make the book a delight to read. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Fools' Guild Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312354266
  • ASIN: B001G8W832
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,508,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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So yes - the Fools push and meddle!
Kindle Customer
THE LARK'S LAMENT, sixth in the series, is great fun.
Jim Huang
It's historical, and it's well researched.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Alan Gordon has become one of my favorite mystery writers over the past couple of years, ever since a friend recommended his Fool's Guild series to me. :-)

His books are witty and intelligent (one of them is a sequel of sorts to Shakespeare's Twelth Night and another purports to tell the true story behind Hamlet). And he covers two of the Crusades (the one involving Richard Lionheart and the one that resulted in the sacking of Constantinople).

The premise behind these books is wonderful - that all of the fools and jesters (and some troubadors) in Christianity and the Muslim worlds belong to a Guild who collects information and pushes to bring peace to a violent world. So yes - the Fools push and meddle!

They follow the story of Theo and his beloved wife Claudia (the Guild name of a well known Shakespeare character!) and their associates.

In this novel they are in southern France trying to recruit a current abbott (former famous troubador) into helping the Guild, which is currently being persecuted by the Church. A murder occurs at the abbey, and the abbott agrees to help out if the Fools can solve the crime.

To solve the crime, they must track down the lyrics and history of an obscure song through the south of France, while people are murdered around them.

As usual in this series, the book is filled with wit, and the Fools are a complete delight!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stuart W. Mirsky on June 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The premise of this one is that there was once a secret society of jesters, a "Fools Guild" much like other medieval guilds (albeit of more prosaic trades), which recruited, trained and deployed court jesters and many of the minstrels of the era throughout the courts and towns of late medieval Europe as spies and agents provocateur.

In this mystery, series hero and "fool" Theophilos (his guild name) travels to a distant abbey in southern France with his wife, the fool Claudia, their young apprentice Helga, and their baby daughter, Portia, to recruit the abbot of the monastery for service to the Guild. The abbot, himself a former troubadour named Folquet, now going by the name of Folc, is a one time Guild member whom the Guild now needs to do some work in their favor inside the Church against the ministrations of an unfriendly Pope in Rome. The Fools Guild, itself, seems to be some sort of secret order spun off at some point in the past by the Church since its head is a certain Father Gerald (I suppose one has to read the earlier books in the series to get the full story here).

Shortly after Theophilos' arrival at the abbey, murder intervenes, as it inevitably does in such mysteries, and Theo and his family must take time out to solve the mystery of a cryptic message scrawled on the wall of the librarium in the murdered victim's blood or lose the chance that Abbot Folc will condescend to aid them in their mission. Their search for the meaning of the blood soaked words takes them over the mountains to a women's religious order and then on to Marseilles on the coast and after this to yet another city, the growing town of Montpellier.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In 1204 the Fool's Guild leadership is very concerned that Pope Inncentius (Innocent III) is outraged by their secular interference in what he deems church business. To reduce the papal hostility, Theophilos the Fool and his wife Claudia, also of the Fool's Guild, travel to Le Thoronet Abbey to see former member Cistercian Abbot Folc, who performed as the legendary Folquet. He welcomes his friends, but is hesitant to get caught between his former and present life as that has no future.

That night, someone slashes the throat of a monk leaving a note on the wall written in the dead man's blood addressed to the abbot when he was a troubadour: "FOLQUET: COLD IS THE HAND THAT CRUSHES THE LARK". Upset Folc offers his visitors a deal; his intervention with the papal enemies in exchange for Theo and Claudia uncovering the identity of the killer threatening him. The married Fools agree and look into Folc's past as Folquet for clues. They visit his wife and learn that the abbot was a womanizer and that the bloody message comes from a song. As they travel to France, a killer seems one step ahead of them leaving corpses for them to find and only being talented Fools have the married duet stayed alive so far.

More history than mystery although the whodunit is clever and used as the device that enables the lead couple to escort readers on a tour of the early thirteenth century Fool's Guild and the Church in France. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the appeal of the Fool's Family (Theo, Claudia, and to a degree their children Portia and Helga) that make the tale fun to follow as their performances provide insight and comedic relief. Readers who appreciate a fine medieval tale with a mystery enhancing the period piece will enjoy the sixth performance of Alan Gordon's fabulous Fool's Guild.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Huang on May 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In a genre full of writers whose work I adore, Alan Gordon is among my most cherished favorites. His books are unique, medieval mysteries that are unlike all others. He writes about fools, positing that all the fools in the middle ages, including all those in Shakespeare, were part of a guild that operated like a middle ages CIA -- they ran around meddling in affairs. The outstanding first book in this series is Thirteenth Night (Fools' Guild Mysteries); each and every book since has more than fulfilled the promise of this utterly original and thoroughly engaging premise.

THE LARK'S LAMENT, sixth in the series, is great fun. It take the characters and the series in a new direction, to the south of France in 1204 where Theophilos, his wife Claudia, their daughter Portia and a delightful apprentice named Helga get involved in some intrigue involving a troubadour-turned-abbot and the cryptic lyrics in one of his songs. As the fools race to uncover the lyrics' meaning, two people are killed. They realize that they're not the only ones on the trail.

I recommend these books to practically everyone, even folks who would not ordinarily pick up a historical mystery. The witty banter and the charming characters are so original and so endearing that these books appeal to all readers who love a good mystery -- and a good laugh!
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