Cover image for Thirteenth night : a medieval mystery
Thirteenth night : a medieval mystery
Gordon, Alan (Alan R.)
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
243 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery

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In the 13th-century Europe, a secret organization -- The Fool's Guild -- existed to influence events behind the scene, and one such manipulation was recorded by Shakespeare, in altered form, in his play, Twelfth Night. But now, many years later, the Duke of Orsino is murdered. Feste, a jester with The Fool's Guild, must return to once again match wits with his adversary Malvolio -- agent of Saladin and sworn enemy of the Guild.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here's a fresh idea: Feste, a minor character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, is actually a top operative of the Fools' Guild, an organization of professional jesters who double as secret agents. The Duke of Orsino, Twelfth Night's central character, has died under mysterious circumstances, and Feste suspects foul play from the evil Malvolio, whose self-serving plot was foiled in Shakespeare's drama. Feste returns to Orsino, posing as a German merchant, determined to discover which member of the citizenry is a killer in disguise. This exceedingly clever novel is a treat for all mystery fans (especially those familiar with Shakespeare's play); it is delightfully constructed, featuring an intricate whodunnit with political overtones, plenty of intrigue, and a healthy dose of humor. With an idea this original, Gordon, a New York legal-aid lawyer, could have skated through the novel, relying on the court-jesters-as-secret-agents premise to keep readers going. But he didn't; on every level--characters, plot, and style, in addition to premise--this is an outstanding first mystery and, one hopes, the beginning of a fine series. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I prefer to leap to conclusions without evidence. It saves time," says Feste, a professional fool. Around this note of obfuscation, Gordon's first novel weaves an amusing sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that, through clever misdirection and deceit, keeps readers guessing. In the first year of the 13th century, the Fool's Guild‘a training center and headquarters for jesters and clowns who secretly influence the direction of political events‘receives word of the death of Duke Orsino of Illyria. Feste, who nurtured Orsino's affections for Viola years before, suspects foul play, so he goes to investigate, disguised as a merchant. The guild also sends along Bobo, in fool's garb, to act as a decoy. Feste fears that Malvolio, former steward to a wealthy family who became the butt of his songs and pranks, may have murdered the duke in the first step of a long-promised revenge. But after 14 years' absence, Feste is no longer certain of Malvolio's appearance, and every man in town becomes a suspect. The plot becomes further entangled with the murder of Fabian, the new steward to the family that Malvolio once served. Gordon's invention of the guild's code and its many tricks is delightful; his dialogue is pitch perfect. What the first half of the narrative lacks in excitement, the second provides in abundance, as political intrigues‘and the characters involved in them‘sparkle, delighting readers all the way to the conclusion. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

If Gordon's title expands on Shakespeare's play, so does his plot. Narrator Feste, a 13th-century member of the Fool's Guild (jugglers, jesters, and secret agents), owns up to contriving the main events concerning the Duke of Orsino as subsequently recounted in Twelfth Night. Now, years later, the duke has been murdered, and Feste, traveling incognito as a German tradesman, braves an ocean voyage to investigate his death and perhaps stymie a vengeful Malvolio. Witty wordplay, comical characters, and exaggerated circumstances mark this fanciful and entertaining historical by a lawyer who has previously published nine mystery stories. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.