A Novel

English language

Published June 17, 2022 by Penguin Publishing Group.


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4 stars (4 reviews)

A fateful year in the life of a thirteen-year-old shepherd's son living in Lapvona, a fiefdom ruled by a corrupt, incompetent and feckless lord.

4 editions


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When Marek was born, his mother died, or so he was told. He lives with his father, a shepherd, in Lapvona, the fiefdom of a corrupt, feckless and incompetent lord. Marek is the line that runs through Lapvona. He was born with skeletal deformities that earn him the contempt of Lapvona villagers, including his father. However, he makes friends with the lord’s son, although the prince treats him more as a hunting dog than as a friend. The relation between Marek and the prince is the feeble engine driving whatever plot there is in Lapvona. Overall, Lapvona reads like a truly terrible year, from spring to spring, at a tyrannically-run Ren Faire: murderous bandit raids, drought and starvation, relentless poverty and grinding work. Add to that humanity’s propensity to lie, and the almost impossibility of meaningfully connecting with another person, and you get a Boschian horror-show from which …

Review of 'Lapvona' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This felt like an arthouse film in book form. Haha. I came very close to DNFing but I’m glad I stuck with it. There’s a good chance that if I were in a different mood I would have hated this book. The ending saves it. As the book progresses, The many people of Lapvona we come to know develop ideas and theories that allow them cope with the many setbacks they face. Superstitions, mythologies. In the end, they question all of it, and find nothing to replace it with. It’s a poignant allegory for what it means to live in a society, even on the smallest of scales.

Review of 'Lapvona' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

‘The man was afraid of strange people. Anyone deaf or crippled or ugly, he felt, was cursed. This was the attitude of most northerners. His wife, of course, being a native, understood that lameness or strangeness was a mark of grace. If one suffered purgatory on Earth rather than after death, heaven was easier to access.’

This book is perhaps best summarized with a ‘what the fuck’. Going into it, all I understood was that it had a medieval context and an arresting cover. Perhaps there would be commentary about being an ‘other’ in medieval society, or the role of religion in daily life, or something to that effect. To be sure, there is a bit of this, but in quite a different way than expected. I had read some of the reviews—or at least, enough to expect some grotesque and disgusting scenes. Listen to the reviews: this book is …

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rated it

4 stars