Poor Lazzaro Biancomonte, recently dispossessed of his home in Biancomonte by stronger, sharkier nobles. And so, ever the hothead, the young fellow literally storms a count’s castle, demanding satisfaction. Of course, he is dragged before the count for a sobering talk, and suddenly Lazzaro realizes that (a) he’s about to get his ass killed and (b) this will kill his poor mother, reduced to peasantry by their downfall.
But our count is a good fellow. He agrees to spare the young noble’s life… if…. he’ll dress in motley and literally play the fool for his count. The young man, now disgraced, agrees.
But such shame cannot stop his sharp tongue from waggling and at the opening of the story, he’s fled the court, having insulted it and the count grievously. He’ll be hung if he returns. But he still must honor his vow – he still must wear the motley of a fool.
Of course, to make things worse, the noble to whom he flees, the Cardinal of Valencia, has a little mission for him. He is to return to the count he has insulted, moving in quite silently, and deliver a message to the count’s wife. With those crazy bells on. And it’s the noose if he’s caught.
I love Sabatini, and I love his writing. His stories are always different and new and bold. And in this, we have a young man who has suffered a turn of courage, who literally must play the fool. And into this we have sniveling nobles, a big badass, and all sorts of Italian historical background for which I don’t give a damn and the story is not harmed in the least, so there! It’s a great saga that has one of the most vivid horseback chases I’ve ever read, as well as one of the most stunningly cruel deaths I think I’ve ever come across. You’re in the tale and suddenly something happens and Sabatini becomes Stephen King, worse than King, just cruelly brutal. I really rocked back at that. And then someone dies who simply can die but they die anyway, so there you go. But Sabatini brings it all together with a nice bow, just as you would expect, so it’s worth a look (especially since it’s free). You can get your copy off Gutenberg right HERE.