The Discworld Companion:
The Fool, later King Verence II of Lancre

Terry Pratchett

Jester at the Lancre court. A very loyal servant to his masters. On his first appearance he was seventeen years old and wore a red and yellow costume with silver bells on his hat and a red and yellow hankie, also decorated with bells. He looked a sad and thin little man with runny eyes, although he was in fact of at least average height, but he made himself look small by hunching his shoulders, bandying his legs and walking in a half-crouch.

He was a Fool like his father and grandfather before him, and was raised by his stern grandfather following his father's abrupt departure from Lancre. He was soon sent away to the Fools' Guild in Ankh-Morpork, where he had the traditional education and, by employing application and hard work to make up for lack of talent, actually passed out as a very respected Fool.

His real name was Verence, and he was half-brother to and slightly older than Tomjon, who was acknowledged as the son and heir of King Verence I. It is believed in Lancre that the Fool's father was also King Verence I, who had a somewhat old-fashioned approach to the young women of the kingdom, and that he had been christened Verence by his late mother in memory of that royal, er, connection.

However, the witches of Lancre have a slightly different, if unspoken, view of events. King Verence I was indeed a ladies' man, but so was the Fool's official father, who achieved with kind words and a fetching manner what the King achieved by hammering on the door with his sword. They also recall that the man left town hurriedly shortly after the birth of Tomjon, and that the Queen was a rather lonely lady who may well have appreciated a little gentle attention on those long nights when her husband was exercising his droit de seigneur around the kingdom. The witches are also midwives, and can count rather better than she could. They're quite certain that Tomjon and the Fool are half-brothers, though...

Further evidence that the Fool (now ruling Lancre as Verence II) is the son of a commoner and had no genetic tradition of kingship in his bones may be gathered from the fact that he is hardworking, intelligent, conscientious, humble and kind. His only failings, if such they be, are a tendency to try to better the lot of his fellow men even if they are happy with the lot they've got- and he has no sense of humour whatsoever, and a strong aversion to custard. There is something about the regime at the Fools' Guild that can do that to a man.

(c) Terry and Lyn Pratchett, and Stephen Briggs 1994 and 1997

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