The Jester (novel)
The Jester is a novel focusing on a young man named Hugh, beginning in the year 1096. He is living in a time of unrest, when nobles treat peasants like himself as dirt. The region is ruled over by a tyrannical ruler named Baldwin. Seeking freedom, he joins the Crusades. However, when they manage to invade one of the Turk Cities, he sees the horror around him, and decides he cannot face it. He passes a church, where he sees a priest being beaten, and kills the men attacking him. At the now dead priest's side lies a staff, which Hugh decides to carry with him from then on.
Hugh flees the Holy Land, returning to his home village of Veille du Pere, to find his wife kidnapped, his son Phillipe dead (whom his wife Sophie gave birth to after he left) and his inn destroyed. Townsfolk say the attackers wore no colors except for black crosses sewn onto their tunics, and were dishonored knights who seemed to be looking for him alone. Half mad with grief, he wanders into the forest, then goes to search for Sophie who he believes is still alive and being held captive in the dungeons at Treille. In the woods, he's attacked by a boar which although he kills, wounds him badly. He is saved by Emilie, a woman who reminds him of Sophie. She turns out to be highborn, the daughter of the King of France, though he does not learn of this until much later. Hugh's plan is to infiltrate the castle of Lord Baldwin at Treille. With Emilie and the jester (at Boree) Norbert's help, he adopts the pretext of a Jester. After winning his Lord and the Lord's crowds' ear, he soon finds that his wife was never in Treille, with Baldwin. He travels to Borée to see Emilie once more.
Winning Anne (Emilie's mistress)'s ear, he eventually finds that his wife, Sophie was in the dungeon of Borée all along, and that Anne had been lying to him. Killing three of the Tafurs (the guards of Anne which turn out to be the dishonored knights who took his wife), Hugh runs back to Veille du Pere. By then he is sure men are hunting him, but he knows not for what. The Tafurs were a fearsome war band, with rumors circulating that they resorted to cannibalism, either deliberately or as a last resort. The Tafurs launch an attack on Veille du Pere, but Hugh and his friends had prepared traps, and so killed all of them but one. This one attacks Hugh before his escape, and breaks his staff, but not the object within, which turns out to be the Holy Lance that pierced Jesus Christ's side as he lay on the cross. Peasants flock to the spear, so Hugh marches on Treille and takes Baldwin prisoner. Next he marches on Borée, but try as they might, they could not take it. Finally the leader of the Tafurs, "Black Cross" attacks Hugh and his Peasant army, but they rebuff them, Hugh killing Black Cross as they did so. Stephen (Anne's evil husband who had recently returned from the Crusades), threatened to kill Emilie, but a plot by Hugh and Anne save her. Stephen runs into the castle with Hugh in pursuit, Anne eventually killing Stephen with the Holy Lance. Emilie turns out to be the daughter of the King of France, and Hugh and Emilie get married, living well from then on.
- Description: 467 p. ; 24 cm.
- Subject: France—History—Medieval period, 987-1515
- Genre: Historical fiction.
- ISBN 0-316-60205-1