Fate by L R Fredericks
|Fate by L R Fredericks|
|Genre: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Lord Francis Damory, bit player in Farundell, deserved a volume of his own, and this is it. A funny, enthralling, prequel that's better than the first book and certainly more intelligible.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 528||Date: July 2012|
|Publisher: John Murray|
|External links: Author's website|
It's the 18th century and 11 year old Francis Damory is spoken to by great great grandfather, Tobias. Nothing odd except that Tobias is dead and speaks via a portrait in Farundell, the family's Oxfordshire home. Hence begins the obsession that will take the adult Sir Francis across the world and through a lifetime of adventures to track Tobias down. The longer Francis looks, the more he realises that Great Great Grandfather isn't dead and that, therefore, Francis wants whatever he's on.
My heart leapt realising Fate would be Sir Francis' story because he was by far one of the best things about L R Fredericks' Farundell and I'm pleased to say that my heart wasn't disappointed. Where Farundell for the first third seemed shackled by ethereal concepts at the story's expense, Fate hit the ground running. Both are written by the same author but something happened in the hiatus between them. Farundell shows the promise of good writing, whereas Fate is its fruition, at least when it comes to characterisation.
Fate is definitely Sir Francis' gig. He personally narrates the novel which is driven by his personality. It's an action packed story as many events (and people) happen to him but one accepts they wouldn't be as entertaining recounted by anyone else. This Lord Damory is a kind, generous scientist and polymath, but most of all, Ms Fredericks has blessed him with an excellent sardonic, sarcastic wit and sense of irony. There are plenty of smiles, a couple of laugh-out-loud moments and one particularly clever scene when an in-joke is shared between Lord and reader at the expense of another character present. True, the Lord does seem to bed hop his way across the world, but conquest is hinted at or passively referenced, a welcome contrast to the centre piece Farundell sex scene. Once you accept that, if a lady has a pulse and seems unrelated to Sir Francis, she's going to end up flat on her back (figuratively) the bonking doesn't get in the way. Unlike Tom Jones or Casanova the sex is incidental to the adventure and events, not the main focus.
Francis' servant, Tunnie, may be a little two dimensional, but he's a servant and this reflects the way in which Tunnie's loyalty and presence is taken for granted. Other characters do more than pad out the narrative, many highlighting the contemporary views and ideas surrounding daily life. For instance Purefoy, the overly-obsessed anatomist, demonstrates the excessive lengths that were employed in order to further biological knowledge. Francis' elder brother, Sebastian, is fond of the high life in a way that turns him into a Hogarthian grotesque. Eliza, a friend and eventual brothel owner, explains why morals are relative and only for those who can afford them. Then there's Sandro the Castrati and of course the other women... There are quite a few women in fact.
Fate works well as a stand-alone novel, but by reading Farundell first, there's more to be gleaned. The mysterious Mr Pym (who seems very like Mr Benn's shopkeeper in the BBC children's cartoon) makes more fleeting appearances, we begin to realise that water is taking on significance as a purveyor of death and there's more astral travel, though less frequently applied. Also there's a hint of the purpose of Paul Asher (central character of Farundell) and, most importantly, the reason why Sir Francis refuses to be labelled a ghost.
On the downside there are a couple of instances of very modern sounding expletives and one of the characters spending a couple of moments sounding like a 21st century counsellor, but blink and it goes.
I now await the release of the third novel in the series with anticipation, despite it majoring on Farundell's Paul and Alice, the sort of precocious child that may benefit from being unseen and unheard. However, having read Fate I realise that L R Fredericks is capable of ensuring that Alice grows into a joy, so fingers are crossed.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing Bookbag with a copy of this book for review.
If you've enjoyed this, then whilst you're awaiting the next in L R Fredericks' saga, we recommend The Sultan's Wife by Jane Johnson for more middle-eastern based historical adventure.
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