cover image Mage of Fools

Mage of Fools

Eugen Bacon. Meerkat, $15.95 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-946154-84-2

Bacon (The Road to Woop Woop) delivers a gorgeously told but somewhat derivative fantasy. Young mother Jasmin lives in the dystopian world of Mafinga, a clearly delineated, if at times familiar, totalitarian socialist state where the cruel monarch, Magu, keeps his power via a false promise of equality. In the wake of an environmental catastrophe that causes mass death among Mafinga’s men, the newly widowed Jasmin turns to the now-forbidden story machines created by her late husband, looking for solace and hope in reading. When she’s discovered and arrested for possessing one of the machines, Jasmin faces a punishment worse than death—until she learns a secret of King Magus that might enable her to save both herself and her family. Through poetic, fast-paced narration, Bacon draws readers into her dangerous and exciting world to showcase the power of stories, art, and individualism. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but Bacon renders her ideas well; fans of old-school SFF will find plenty to enjoy . Agent: Bieke Van Aggelen, African Literary. (Mar.)