Reasons to read fiction from other languages and cultures #99453…
I’m currently reading and enjoying the first of Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy trilogy set in the time of the Hussite Wars.
Look — I’m not particularly ignorant by most standards. But in reading The Tower of Fools (an English translation of this trilogy is now becoming available) I have for the first time become aware that a full century before Martin Luther nailed his theses to a door, there was a major Christian reformation movement that grabbed a big old chunk of Catholic-land and kept it for two centuries.
I mean, I knew of John Wycliffe already. How did I not know anything of Jan Hus and the Hussite Wars?
The Tower Of Fools is an entertaining, character-driven work. I’m really enjoying the texture of a history at once familiar and yet unknown to me. Better: I’m enjoying a piece of fantasy fiction that isn’t yet another Great Quest or something even worse. This is a quick-moving, action-filled chase across a fifteenth-century Silesia full of bandits, knights, witches, fairy-tale monstrosities, dark conspiracies, magicians… hell, Sapkowski even manages a nod to old H P Lovecraft himself in a couple of places.
This is fun, and interesting, and thought-provoking and imaginative, exactly as fantasy should be… and best of all, it doesn’t taste like a stale, warmed-over chunk of Tolkien…