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Genres: Historical Fiction
on October 1st 2015
Source: NetGalley, Publicist
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To be (or not to be) the man to save England
England’s finest swordsman and fight choreographer at the magnificent new Globe Theatre has hit rock bottom. John Lawley just wants to win back his beloved, become a decent father to his son, and help his friend William Shakespeare finish The Tragedy of Hamlet, the play that threatens to destroy him.
But all is not fair in love and war. Dogged by his three devils—whiskey, women, and Mad Robbie Deveraux—John is dragged by Queen Elizabeth herself into a dangerous game of politics, conspiracy, and rebellion. Will the hapless swordsman figure out how to save England before it’s too late?
Brimming with vivid periodic detail, Shakespearean drama, and irresistible wit, Shakespeare’s Rebel is a thrilling romp through the romantic, revolutionary times of Elizabethan England that will delight historical fiction fans and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike.
In the small part of his brain that was not focused on survival, he was aware of an irony here; for in his other life, the life he preferred, the life of the playhouse, one of his tasks had been to arrange the fights that occurred in most plays. And so, like players upon a stage, he set about organizing his enemies’ moves. There were more of them crowding the top of the stair and, in good conscience, two were as many as he could handle, so he was determined to hold the combat near the door and prevent entrance.
As always, he watched their weapons. For all the firmness of their guard, he could see the men’s hesitancy—and that was not just because of the constant shiftings of their feet, a trait of your Spanish swordsman, forever dancing as they fought. Perhaps the sight of their comrade’s body thumping down the stair, gouting blood, made them pause. Perhaps being chased like rabbits through their own town. Whatever caused it, John could use it.
And did. Raising his hilt above his head, blade angled down and diagonal across his body in true guard, he did not leave it there, but swept it in a tight circle, using only the wrist, the fastest form of attack. His weapon gathered theirs, rapiers and daggers, all four knocked aside for the moment John needed. As they stumbled sideways under the force of the heavier blade’s strike, John vaulted off his front foot, spinning around, using the pivot to bring his buckler sweeping across, smashing into one opponent’s cheek. With a cry he was down, sprawled across the doorway, John’s whole desire.
But the other had leaped clear, regained his weapons, while the force of John’s spin, the buckler strike passing to the left, his sword out right, left his belly and chest wide. The Spaniard thrust with his rapier before he could withdraw that invitation, and only a leap back, and a rapid sucking in of waist, saved his life at the cost of a button. Parrying hard with a circling flick of sword, he gave back again as the man’s dagger went for his eye, deflected the swung sword over his head with his buckler. As it clanged into a bedpost, he thrust forward hard, like a pugilist punching, but the Spaniard eluded him with a slip of shoulder, then came again.
John lost every thought save two: keeping the man before the doorway and deflecting his assaults. All became a blur, blows and thrusts given, warded, redoubled. The bedposts blocked both of them, the curtains snared blades until they were shredded by slashes. In but a few moments steel met steel twenty times or more and there was not time to consider anything but that. Until John became aware of life beyond the whirling blades, of movement again at the doorway, another opponent finally stepping through it…and behind him, the creak of rungs on the ladder.