Friday, August 1, 2008

Queen’s Own Fool

A Novel of Mary Queen of Scots
by Jane Yolen & Robert J. Harris

One wet day Nicola Ambruzzi is performing in the streets with Troupe Brufort in Rheims, France, when a royal gentleman stops and asks them to come and put on their show for the kind and queen at the palace. Her oily Uncle Armand can hardly believe his luck and tells Nicola to “keep her tongue to herself,” though it is her sharp tongue that rewards him in the end. The court has seen most of the tricks the troupe performs and is not impressed. When Nicola makes a mistake and turns what could have been a disaster into an entertaining sideshow the court applauds and admires her quick wit. Queen Mary is offers to buy Nicola’s freedom and take her into her service. So, Nicola becomes the queen’s own fool, is given new clothes and has plentiful food to eat. Though not everyone is her friend, she has the ear of a queen, who could ask for more? Then plots for power and the throne increase and Nicola is caught in the middle of the court games of who will rule and who will die.

Yolen and Harris’ richly detailed writing sweeps readers into the characters’ lives, the plots of the court, and medieval life from the very beginning. The seamless blend of believable characters and their emotions with a very close telling of the story of the “queen without a country” makes this an unforgettable book. I have read this novel several times, and it still keeps its magic for me. Read the companion novels—also about troubled historic Scotland—Girl in a Cage, Prince Across the Water, and The Rogues.


  1. This sounds really good thanks for the review. I like what I have read by Yolen so far.

  2. I've been eying this series for awhile. I may have to dip in soon. Thanks for the review.

  3. I love the cover, if it was that good i'll have to read it!

    I tagged you (both). Check out my blog for the details.

    Kayla (Midnight Twilight)

  4. I enjoyed this book, too. Nicola seemed very real to me. The political plotting was new, hadn't already known about it. I love a good historical fiction book and haven't found many lately I want to read.

    Just noticed my library has Prince Across the Water.

    I need to come back to your site more. Noticed you have books I'm unfamiliar with.


Hey, thanks for stopping by! We'd love to hear from you, whatever your opinion, so please write any comments below.