Andrzej Sapkowski is the name of the brilliant mind behind The Witcher. First a novel, then a video game, now a Netflix series, there’s no doubt that Sapkowski’s writing has achieved critical and commercial success. However, there’s much more to his body of work than The Witcher, and one of his lesser known novels is finally heading west.
The Tower of Fools is a historical fantasy novel written by Sapkowski nearly two decades ago. It was first published in Polish back in 2002 but is just now getting an English release on October 27. It follows Reinmar of Bielawa – also known as Reynevan – as he treks across the Silesian landscape of 1425 in the hopes of being reunited with his one true love.
Although, there’s a bit of a catch – his one true love is a married woman, and her in-laws want Reynevan’s head on a pike. It’s a fantastic novel that any fan of The Witcher will instantly appreciate, although there are some stark differences between the two tales. Regardless, after having the chance to sit down and read it, I think The Tower of Fools would make another incredible video game – although it certainly couldn’t be an RPG.
Reinmar Is A Damn Fool
Let’s get this straight – Reinmar is no Geralt. If the two met in combat, Reinmar would be cut into ribbons before he had a chance to piss his pants. He’s constantly being saved by his traveling companions – calling them friends might be a stretch – and it seems that everything he touches falls apart.
Still, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the unfortunate young physician. It’s clear that he’s intelligent, and he’s one of the few folks around that possesses a bit of magical prowess. However, roaming the Silesian countryside as Reynevan would make for a terrible video game. Unlike Geralt, Reynevan wouldn’t be slaying monsters or brawling bandits in a pub. You’d instead be hiding in haystacks and waiting for your buddies to come to your rescue. However, the story told in The Tower of Fools is so engrossing that it would make a fantastic narrative adventure game – think Heavy Rain or Telltale’s The Walking Dead or .
Political Intrigue, Religious Heresy, and Long-Lost Lovers
At many points in the 500+ page novel, Reinmar is presented with a choice. He often chooses the wrong one – much to the delight of the reader – but I often wondered what would happen if he decided to do the smart thing instead of following his heart. Should he travel to Ziebice, or should he stick to Scharley’s original plan? Is faking an exorcism really a good idea, or is it better to tell the truth and be on your way? And, most importantly, should you encourage Scharley to invest in Gutenberg’s printing press, or tell the hack to sell his mad ideas elsewhere?
All of these choices would make excellent fodder for a narrative adventure. You’d still follow the main storyline of the novel, but the developers could take a few creative liberties when it came to determining what happens when you make the opposite decision as Reynevan did in the book.
There’s also enough political conspiring to make The Witcher jealous, something that our young hero unfortunately finds himself smack in the middle of. Your choices in this imaginary game would directly impact the events in the world around you, causing the outbreak of wars and the collapse of empires. The Tower of Fools is rife with religious undertones, too, and you’d be pressed with moral dilemma’s at every turn.
It’s Like The Witcher, But Different
There’s no doubt that The Tower of Fools has the right sort of content to be a brilliant video game, but players expecting it to be like The Witcher will be sorely disappointed. Reynevan is a bit of a lady’s man like Geralt, he knows a bit of magic like Geralt, but other than that he’s a completely different person. That mean’s the game itself would have to be different, too. Turning The Tower of Fools into an RPG probably isn’t the best idea, unless Reynevan’s capable traveling companions are the center of the action. Outside of that, pitching this game as an RPG is crazy enough to get yourself landed in the Narrenturm.
If narrative adventure’s aren’t your cup of tea, The Tower of Fools could even make a passable stealth game – similar to Thief, but with an intriguing narrative and actual character development. Most of the pages revolve around Reynevan’s attempts to avoid getting caught and killed by the Sterczas, the Inquisition, various Lords – and basically everyone else he comes in contact with. There’s a fair bit of sneaking around to be had, as he hides in barns, fumbles through jousting tournaments, and takes the roads less travelled while heading towards Bohemia. Once you get caught – which is bound to happen since Reynevan is a damn fool – you’d need to hop on your horse and evade your captors Grand Theft Auto style.
No matter how you cut it, The Tower of Fools is another great novel by Sapkowski. At equal turns similar and dissimilar to The Witcher, its a story that begs to be retold across various forms of media. Reynevan is an intelligent dope who follows his heart, his accompanying cast of characters is thoroughly developed and just as intriguing, and the worldbuilding employed by Sapkowski is impeccable. At the very least, The Tower of Fools tells a tale that needs to be experienced – so if you don’t like to read, pray that it gets turned into a video game. Or, at the very least, maybe a Netflix series.
The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski will be available in English on October 27.
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Jon Bitner is an Associate Editor for TheGamer. His passion for gaming started with his first console (Sega Genesis) and he hasn’t stopped playing since. His favorite titles include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Team Fortress 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Pokémon Sword & Shield, Old School Runescape, Skyrim, and Breath of the Wild. He can usually be found playing the latest RPG, FPS, or some obscure mobile game. Before working as Associate News Editor, Jon earned a Biology degree and worked in the Biotechnology sector — experiences that taught him how to put words together and make sentences. When not playing or writing about the gaming industry, he enjoys sleeping, eating, and staring at birds.
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