"A tremendous amount of fun." George R. R. Martin
Wise, witty and just a little weird, FOOLS ERRANT wryly strolls the satirical path laid down by Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Jack Vance, heralding the brilliant debut of a gifted new voice. Foppish young Filidor Vesh wants only to dally among his shallow pastimes. But a simple errand for his uncle, the vaguely all-powerful Archon of those parts of Old Earth still populated by human beings, becomes a frenetic odyssey across a planet speckled with eccentric nations pursuing odd aims with intense determination. Harried at every step by the irascible dwarf, Gaskarth, and frequently at the peril of wild beasts, enraged mobs and a particularly nasty thaumaturge, Filidor makes a relucant progress toward a final encounter with an ancient and possibly world-ending evil.
Combining many of the elements of a good fantasy (quest, magic, strange lands and memorable characters), Hughes's rollicking debut details the coming-of-age of young Filidor Vesh, nephew to the Archon of Old Earth. The journey begins when Filidor and his aging mentor, Gaskarth, agree to deliver a package to the Archon. En route, they encounter weird and often humorous lands and people whose lives revolve around a distinct value (such as the Jampions who care only about competition, or the Zeelotes who prize innovation). Readers may be disappointed, however, by the novel's rather episodic structure. Filidor's odyssey swiftly falls into a pattern in which Filidor travels to a new land, faces some mortal peril at the hands of an extremist community, overcomes his peril and then travels to the next land. Hughes thankfully breaks from this cycle toward the end of the book when the true nature of Filidor's quest is revealed. Despite the plot's predictability, Hughes has crafted a worthwhile tale reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels. The individual cultures are well-conceived and enjoyable, and the images that Hughes conjures will stick with the reader long after the plot is forgotten. - Publishers Weekly
Matthew Hughes's impressive first novel, Fools Errant, is set in a future so distant and strange, it may be read with equal enjoyment by both SF and fantasy readers. The book kicks off with a Wildean battle of wits, but the main influences on this ironic, rather picaresque, and altogether delightful entertainment are Jack Vance and Jonathan Swift.Filidor Vesh is a languid, callow young dandy, "the nephew and sole heir of Dezendah Vesh, ninety-eighth (or possibly ninety-ninth) Archon of those regions of old Earth still inhabited by human beings"; he anticipates a long life of idle pleasure, but a mysterious dwarf spirits him away on a dangerous journey. It quickly becomes apparent that their search for the Archon is an excuse to visit bizarre, fascinating lands. The reader won't mind. The characters are charming and singular, and the journey is packed with pleasures and perils - Amazon.com
Matthew Hughes (1949- )
Matthew Hughes was born in Liverpool, England, and moved to Canada at a very early age. He has made a living as a writer all his adult life, first as a journalist and then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and - from 1979 until a few years back- as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia. He began to publish short crime fiction in 1982 and his Archonate stories and novels have been compared to the works of Jack Vance. Hughes continues to write and moves wherever his secondary career as a housesitter takes him.