Thursday, 27 April 2017

Andrzej Sapkowski: Narrenturm

Andrzej Sapkowski is the father of The Witcher Saga, the must for every fan of fantasy genre. This genial and talented author didn’t write only the saga, but also lots of other fantasy novels as a trilogy called  Hussite Wars - and Narrenturm is its first book. Anyone who would expect that language, which one can read in The Witcher Saga, might get disappointed or will fall in love with the book.

Not only does the book follow historical facts but also the name of the book is german word Narrenturm, word for a tower where people suffering from mental diseases were isolated in Middle Ages. The action takes place in Silesia in 1425, at the time of the Hussite Wars and it is very accurate and truthful testimony of the times. Never had people of middle Europe experienced such crusade, which was proclaimed by Pope Martin V. “for the destruction of the Wycliffites, Hussites and all other heretics in Bohemia” on 17 March 1420. Therefore, a reader can meet with real historical characters as minor characters. For example: the Bishop of Wroclaw Conrad, the Glatz Governor Půta from Častolovice, Johannes Gutenberg, John I of Münsterberg and Hussite priest Ambrose from Hradec. There are also mentioned the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg, the Hussite general and leader Jan (John) Žižka and many others.

The main protagonist is the Silesian nobleman, the physician and mage Reinmar of Bielawa, also known as Reynevan von Bielau. He is caught having romantic and amatory relationship with Adele von Sterz, wife of nobleman. Therefore, he must flee from Olešnice town and the whole Sterz family and their relatives seek for revenge and start to haunt Reynevan who is escaping to the south. And this is how his adventures begin which he shares with new companions Sharley and Samson, eventually haunted by Sterz family, hired murderers, groups of robber knights and even by inquisition.

This made up character has been put in real historical era with real historical figures. Fantasy elements include occasional magical feats, artifacts, and non-human characters. The effect of plausibility is made stronger by the language of this book. Someone might find it very difficult to read. If you are willing to read this story, be prepared for Latin parts in dialogues which are only partly translated. Should you know essential basics of Latin and historical facts to be able read this book. This is the reason why Narrenturm didn’t find so many fans as The Witcher. On the other hand, lovers of Middle-Europe history and Middle Ages in general will find this work breathtaking. This fifteen years old book is for history and raw Medieval fantasy enthusiasts or for those readers who want to try something uncommon and new.

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