Shakespeare's RebelBook - 2013
A gripping historical adventure packed with intrigue, deception, rebellion, politics, love and war, that fans of C.J. Sansom will love.
London 1599, a city on the brink of revolution...
He is Queen Elizabeth's last, perhaps her greatest, love - Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex. Champion jouster, dashing general...and the man that John Lawley, England's finest swordsman, most wishes to avoid. For John knows the other earl - the reckless melancholic - and has had to risk his life for him in battle one time too many.
All John wants is to be left alone to win back the heart of the woman he loves, be the kind of father that his son can look up to, and arrange the fight scenes for the magnificent new theatre, the Globe. To realise these dreams, John must dodge both Essex and his ruthless adversary for the queen's affections, Robert Cecil, and remain free to help his oldest friend Will Shakespeare finish the play that threatens to destroy him: THE TRAGEDY OF HAMLET.
But John is doomed by his three devils: whisky, women and Mad Robbie Deveraux. Despite every effort to evade the clutches of Elizabeth and her cohorts, John is soon enmeshed in the intrigues of court and dragged into the seemingly hopeless war in Ireland, forced to play his part in a deadly game of power and politics, conspiracy and rebellion.
From the scaffold of the Globe to the one in the Tower. From ambush in Ireland to even greater menace in Whitehall, John Lawley must strive to be - or not to be - the man who might just save England.
From the critics
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The best swashbuckling tale-teller since Raphael Sabatini, C.C. Humphreys’ latest novel crosses a number of genres. Mystery, history, the political espionage of Elizabeth I’s court (long after her cousin Mary Stuart has been dispatched), and of course, swordplay. But the hero, John Lawley is not just a mercenary soldier-for-hire, his first love is the stage – specifically, setting fights for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in the company of one William Shakespeare. We first meet our hero as he is coming out a hangover of epic proportions; a man given to legendary alcoholic tears whenever upset is not generally the heroic type, but Humphreys gives Lawley a few things to strive toward – the woman he has always loved, a son who shows promise for the stage, and most importantly, the will to avoid getting stuck within the political machinations of Queen Elizabeth, her soldier-lover Robert Deveraux, and her chief minister, Robert Cecil (grandson of one Lord Burleigh, if you’ve seen Mary Stuart at the Stratford Festival). No such luck, as Deveraux depends on him to keep his warrior spirit up when he is ordered to invade Ireland and bring back a traitor, Cecil wants him to spy on Deveraux, and Elizabeth, who comes to realize she is more closely connected to Lawley than either is comfortable with, wants Lawley to use his friendship with Shakespeare to persuade him to produce the most patriotic of plays during the tense final years of her reign. Easier done than said, as Lawley and the players find – the public tide has turned, they demand more of their theatre, and they might – just might – be ready for Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy of all, the play Lawley is afraid will ultimately consume his friend. Shakespeare’s Rebel is Humphreys best since his first, The French Executioner, but even fans of his Jack Absolute series will find subtle connections therein. A thoroughly researched, enjoyable and meaty summer read.
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