The Mad King

The mad king’s madness was the source of his power, for by wrongly ascribing subtle reason to his actions, his enemies defeated themselves.

But having vanquished his enemies, his victory proved Pyrrhic, for the mad king’s madness stoked internecine feuds just as surely as it had undermined his foes.

The mad king was never dethroned, for those that displaced him cared not for his moldering kingdom of lies and ash, and instead built a new kingdom of their own, a kingdom worth fighting for, worth believing in, worth sharing.

Now the mad king rules only his own madness—or is ruled by it—and children look upon him not with fear, nor even recrimination, but pity.


Complement with True Blue, what my secret agent grandmother taught me, and how to kill a dragon.

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Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels, including Cumulus, Bandwidth, and, most recently, Veil. He sends a monthly reading recommendation newsletter and lives in Oakland, CA.

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