After reading The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart about a year ago I had kept my eye on Jesse Bullington. (I would also like to quickly note that Mr. Bullington might just have the best facial hair in the genre. Move over Patrick Rothfuss!!!) His newest book The Folly of the World caught my eye for two reasons. The first being the beautiful cover art… I’ve heard that many authors don’t have a say when it comes to their cover art, and if that’s the case then Mr. Bullington is a very lucky author because the covers of his books are all wonderful. The second thing that really drew me in with this book was the whole concept. “A deranged thug at the edge of madness, a ruthless con man on the cusp of fortune, and a half-feral girl balanced between them”. Combining these characters with the setting of a flooded medieval world and you have a recipe for a delicious read.
I should come out and say that while I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t perfect and to be honest I would have a hard time recommending it to many traditional fantasy fans. For starters Bullington isn’t writing stories that really sit well next to the likes of Terry Brooks, or George R. R. Martin. Instead he has created his very own niche in the fantasy genre. It’s hard to describe because you have elements of whimsical prose that give the story an almost fairy tale feel, but at the same time you have elements of extreme sex and violence. This creates a unique reading experience that I haven’t come across before so it’s hard to give a good comparison. One thing that I’ve come to appreciate with Bullington is his ability to make his medieval world feel very authentic. Bullington dedicates a lot of research into his work and you can really feel it over the course of his story.
The book suffers from a bloated “middle section” which is unfortunate because the opening and conclusion are both very well done. Some readers also might be turned off by the fact that two of the main characters are homosexuals, and they do have multiple sex scenes. There is also some pretty foul language (this is coming from a sailor mind you) but the violence wasn’t as harsh as it was in The Brothers Grossbart. So take that with a grain of salt, this isn’t a book for the faint of heart or for someone who is easily offended.
The three characters were all stellar and as I mentioned above Bullington has a way with words that really give the story a feeling of whimsy. Several internal monologues also had me laughing out loud, and these elements of humor shed some light on the dark watery world that Bullington has created. Overall if you enjoyed the crazy adventures of The Brothers Grossbart than you will enjoy the hot mess that is Sander, Jan, and Jo. It is clear that Jesse Bullington is becoming a cult favorite among many people and I can’t wait to see what he has next in store for us!
*Also worth noting… No Belgians were harmed in the making of this novel.