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Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools


 Sebastian Darke:
 Prince of Fools
Philip Caveney
January 2007
Bodley Head
                        384 pages

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Oh, that's nice! A little while ago I was a partner;
      suddenly I'm downgraded to a beast of burden..."


       Sebastian Darke is bound for the faraway city of Keladon
, where he
       hopes to take up residence in the court of King Septimus, as a royal jester.
       Sebastian's late father was a jester. A very good one. But his son is
       somewhat less talented, and all his attempts at good humour fall on the dour
       ears of his companion, Max the talking buffalope. Max is particularly
       miffed by his perceived lack of status. Is he Sebastian's partner on
       this perilous journey, or merely a beast of burden?

       Soon the bickering boy and bull are joined by a defiant warrior midget
       called Cornelius, and in no time the newly-formed trio are rescuing a spoilt
       young girl from the clutches of a band of filthy brigands. Only, she's no
       ordinary spoilt girl. She's Princess Kerin of Keladon, and she's surely their
       ticket to wealth and happiness in the court of King Septimus.

       Oh, but Septimus has other plans. Mr Darke and his friends have 
       undone all his hard work. Now he has to to find a new way to be rid of
       his insufferable niece. And whilst he's at it, he'll have to get rid of her
       detestable new friends as well. If Sebastian can just see beyond
       the backbiting, he might discover the danger they're in...

       Philip Caveney has written a number of books for adults, but this is
       his first children's novel.



» A sequel is forthcoming. Sebastian Darke: Prince of Pirates is due
           to be published in February 2008...

» And Max has his own tale in the offing. "A Buffalope's Tale" will tell
           Max's story, in his own dour words...


       The Gnome says

       Here's a book that's stuffed-to-busting with swash and buckle and above
       all, banter. Sebastian Darke and his buffalope Max are a most unlikely
       double act who spend a greater portion of our tale trading insults,
       wry backhands and pithiness. Max believes he's a well-cultered bull
       in a somewhat common china shop. He's akin to a Paranoid Android
       at times, and his comments are often very dry and very funny.
       merry bidding at a slave auction is great fun, likewise his insufferable
       comments whenever he feels put upon, ignored or abandoned. Which
       is often.

       However, whilst dour Max may be clearly defined, young Sebastian
       is a bit more blurred around the edges. He's billed as being a rather
       hapless jester, and one immediately thinks of the familiar nerd about
       town. But in reality, Sebastian is quick to learn, and his half-ellf,
       half-human good looks and insight defy the usual depiction of such
       a character. Give him a sword and he quivers at first, but it doesn't
       take him very long to wield it confidantly, when needs must...

       Meanwhile, all that bubbling banter disguises what is, actually, a rather
       familiar pantomime plot. Yes, there's lots of action and double-crossing
       and a daring last-minute rescue straight out of Robin Hood. But these
       stunts have already appeared in any number of stories and films. The
       author has gone out of his way to create a sprawling fantasy realm.
       Why can't we have more magic and monsters?

Oh, but this Gnome's such a fussy fellow. You'd think he didn't like
       this book at all. So let's just state right now, younger readers will surely
       lap up this adventure, and even if they don't, all that verbal table tennis
       can't fail to engage. With its pseudo-medieval setting and witty repartee,
       "Prince of Fools" is akin to "Blackadder", for kids. And just as Edmund
       and company hopped from location to location with each new series,
       so Sebastian, Max and Cornelius are set to return - interfrastically
       even - in a second adventure that tosses them on to the High Seas. 
       This time, they're on a treasure hunt which looks like it will transform
       into a Sparrow-sized romp, stuffed with cutthroats and cutlasses.

       And, hopefully, lots more bull.

       By the way, David Wyatt's dust jacket is foolishly good. And that hat
       motif will no doubt transform into something suitably piratical for the
       second tale...



       When the book was first published, Philip Caveney took up his pen
       and signed 4,000 first editions...

       "Sebastian Darke" signed edition


      Buy this book

      Sebastian Darke
      The UK Hardback edition... 


      On the web

      Sebastian Darke
      The official web site...

      Sebastian Darke blog
      The official blog...

      Philip Caveney
      The author's web site...
      David Wyatt
      Mr Wyatt's handsome site...

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