cover image FOOLS ERRANT


Matthew Hughes, FOOLS ERRANTMatthew Hughes

Combining many of the elements of a good fantasy (quest, magic, strange lands and memorable characters), Hughes's rollicking debut details the coming-of-age of young Filidor Vesh, nephew to the Archon of Old Earth. The journey begins when Filidor and his aging mentor, Gaskarth, agree to deliver a package to the Archon. En route, they encounter weird and often humorous lands and people whose lives revolve around a distinct value (such as the Jampions who care only about competition, or the Zeelotes who prize innovation). Readers may be disappointed, however, by the novel's rather episodic structure. Filidor's odyssey swiftly falls into a pattern in which Filidor travels to a new land, faces some mortal peril at the hands of an extremist community, overcomes his peril and then travels to the next land. Hughes thankfully breaks from this cycle toward the end of the book when the true nature of Filidor's quest is revealed. Despite the plot's predictability, Hughes has crafted a worthwhile tale reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels. The individual cultures are well-conceived and enjoyable, and the images that Hughes conjures will stick with the reader long after the plot is forgotten. (Mar.)