My first book by this author. What I enjoyed most was feeling like I was backstage with the actors in London during Shakespeare's time. Learning about early theater was fascinating. Support by the queen and disgust from the Puritans.
I am a big Cornwell fan and was highly anticipating this release, sadly it was a disappointment. A departure from his action series of novels, but I could have lived with that with a good plot and character development. This had neither. That being said, if you are a Shakespeare fan you may enjoy this a lot. There is a lot of line by line quote from plays written by Shakespeare, if I wanted that, I would have just reread Romeo & Juliet, or one of the other plays he quoted extensively, I found it boring and needless. There was potential, but it fell short.
I too am a big Bernard Cornwell fan. FOOLS AND MORTALS is certainly different from his other books of historical fiction which often focus on wars in days gone by long ago. But only different in that it focuses on the early days of the development of static theaters and the rise of the great playwrights - we are talking 1595 as the setting for this story. It does not have the level of action of his war-related historical novels, but it does have an element of intrigue, some violence, religious persecution, class distinctions, and the harsh realities of being a actor in that era. While the central story is based in the theater of William Shakespeare as seen through the eyes of his brother Richard, an actor, the larger story is about the growth of a new industry focusing on the people coming to a static place (theater) to see a play rather than the older traditions of taking plays out to the people. If you like the theater scene and plays you will love this. If you are not much into those things, just be prepared once in awhile to skim through some the theater and plays descriptive material - still a great read either way.
This is a wonderful book if you are into Shakespeare, as I am. It makes you feel you are really there behind stage, on stage, and in the streets of Shakespeare's London. This is not an action adventure like most of Cornwell's other books, which I suppose explains the disappointment of some of the other reviewers, but to my mind it is one of Cornwell's best.
Cornwell is one of my favourite writers and I've read and enjoyed almost all of his books. However, I had a hard time getting into this book and gave up after 100 pages. I guess I'm not really into plays and the theatre life. I expect people who are, though, might enjoy the story.
Having read all of Bernard's book this was the first one to disappoint me. While I consider him to be in my top five of authors, this story evolved slowly and I did not find it engaging until the second half.
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