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Saturday, April 21, 2007


Thal, Lilli. Mimus. This YA novel opens with a young prince and his friends taking part in some typical escapades in the kingdom of Moldavia. Then word arrives that Prince Florin is to join his father who has been involved with peace negotiations with Vinland and will be escorted there by Moldavian soldiers. Florin is thrilled to be a part of this historic event--the whole idea is exciting. On the trip to Vinland, however, the young prince sees the devastation caused by years of war and his romantic visions receive their first jolt.

Worse is to come. King Philip, Florin's father, has been betrayed and imprisoned with his surviving retainers in the dungeons of King Theodo of Vinland. Florin is forced into apprenticeship with Theodo's jester, Mimus. The prince is stripped physically and emotionally as he moves from the exalted position of prince, to the one of the lowest positions in this medieval society. His head is shaved, he is fed gruel once a day, and he is forced to behave like a Fool. His one attempt at escape brought a terrible punishment on his father, so Florin can not even hope to make another attempt.

Survival comes at a great cost and requires great courage, but Florin does survive. And learn-- about revenge, friendship, the humanity even of enemies, the inhumanity that can result from too much power, the effects of war, and more. There are some harsh realities in this YA novel, but there is great compassion as well.

Although I've barely mentioned Mimus, his character is vital, complex and fascinating. There is no novel without him, but you need to meet him for yourself.

This is an excellent YA novel that doesn't skimp on development and doesn't condescend to its readers. I found it on the YA shelves at the library and had never heard of it before, but after 3 disappointing YA fantasy novels, I really wanted one that I could like.

I just found this study guide for teachers which looks excellent.

Fiction. YA/fantasy. 2003. Eng. trans. 2005. 394 pages.


  1. I created a spreadsheet for my TBR list and made a column for 'recommended by'. You should know that your name appears many, many times on that list. Here's another going on. You really know how to sell a book.

  2. This one sounds interesting - I'm going to add it to my list, and put it on the list of books to consider for my nephew, sounds like something he might enjoy. Great review!

    booklogged - a spreadsheet. Hmmm. Now you have me thinking! At the moment I have a handwritten list, which extends to far too many pages. Perhaps it is time to bring my list into the modern age!

  3. Cheya - You clever girl! I jot stuff down on whatever is handy, but then can't find half of my notes. I did create a Word document, but don't keep up with it very well either. Then I'm so frustrated when I get to the library and can't remember what I want to look for!

    Quixotic - I'd like to know what young people think of Mimus. It has excitement and adventure, but it also has some meat on those bones. If your nephew reads it, let me know what he thinks.

  4. I think I'll offer this one up to Didi's book group as a possibility for discussion. They like to look at the periodic Young Adult title (two professors of children's literature will do that).

  5. Will do jenclair!

  6. I'm sold! I shall add this one to my library list...You can never have too much good YA fiction around. ;)

    (Wow, booklogged, a real spreadsheet and everything? I'm doing well to keep everything on my receipt backs and napkins...and other handy things that eventually get used as bookmarks!)

  7. Jill - Do share some of their favorite titles!

    R. B. - Hope you enjoy it!