☆ Ruled Britannia ☆ Download by ☆ Harry Turtledove The Year Is For Nearly A Decade, The Island Of Britain Has Been Under The Rule Of King Philip In The Name Of Spain The Citizenry Live Under An Enforced Curfew And In Fear Of The Inquisition S Agents, Who Put Heretics To The Torch In Public Displays And With Queen Elizabeth Imprisoned In The Tower Of London, The British Have No Symbol To Unite Them Against The Enemy Who Occupies Their LandWilliam Shakespeare Has No Interest In Politics His Passion Is Writing For The Theatre, Where His Words Bring Laughter And Tears To A Populace Afraid To Speak Out Against The Tyranny Of The Spanish Crown But Now Shakespeare Is Given An Opportunity To Pen His Greatest Work A Drama That Will Incite The People Of Britain To Rise Against Their Persecutors And Change The Course Of History I ve read and re read this one and I m re reading yet again To be honest, many of Harry Turtledove s alternative universe books confuse me, with the multiple viewpoints this is one of a number that only have two viewpoints In this case, the viewpoints are those of William Shakespeare, living in an England occupied by the Spanish when the Armada succeeded, and Lope de Vega, a playwright who was Spain s answer to Shakespeare, who, in this novel, is one of the occupying soldiers Shakespeare has been commissioned to write two plays one by the Spanish, who want him to do a biography of King Phillip, who is dying, one by the British underground, led by Lord Burleigh, allowed to live free while Elizabeth is in the Tower The theme is not unlike that of a British TV mini series called An Englishman s Castle which I saw many years ago, set in a post war Britain occupied by the Nazis.
I loved the way it read like a perfectly good historical novel in a history that never was There s none of the SF elements that were in the also wonderful Guns Of The South In this world Christopher Marlowe is still alive and has written many plays he never did in our own world, but those who assassinated him in our world are still around also Love it, love it I m not a big reader of alternate histories, but they can be very entertaining That being said, I will never understand why they are filed under science fiction There is no science behind the conceit It is just a what if novel.
There, I ve had my piece This was an excellent historical fiction I especially liked the look at both sides, the Spanish and the English points of view The philandering Spaniard who wanted to be a poet and playwright, rather than a soldier was a particularly appealing character As was the Constable who mis spoke everything he said It s hard enough to follow the dialogue in 16th Century English, but English garbled that badly The political intrigue, the characters of William Shakespeare, Kit Marlowe, Robert Cecil, Robert Devereux, etc, all combined to make a thrilling read.
The central conceit is brilliant and I can t fault the scholarship or the choice of protagonists but the prose is turgid and overwritten The Guns of the South proves that Turtledove can write a fast paced novel while retaining the fruits of his research so I guess what he needs to find is a friendly neighbourhood editor.
One thing I ve noticed about Harry Turtledove is that his mind blowingly brilliant ideas and concepts are often let down by clunky delivery and wooden dialogue Not so in this case However, my one real gripe does concern Turtledove s attempt to weave Shakespearean style language into the book The problem here is that he isn t always consistent and that jars somewhat With that proviso, this is an exciting and absorbing story and one full of indications that Turtledove has done his background research on Elizabethan England in general and the atmosphere of late sixteenth century London in particular The action opens in 1598, ten years after the Duke of Parma s army successfully landed on the English coast and advanced on London England has been brought forcibly back into the papal fold and the forces of the Inquisition are freely used against dissenters both religious and political In fact in practice there is no difference between the two Queen Elizabeth languishes in the Tower of London and Warwickshire playwright Will Shakespeare finds himself caught on the horns of the mother of all dilemmas On the one hand the Spanish authorities want him to write a play that will reconcile the English to Spanish rule, on the other the English Resistance want him to write a play that will inspire rebellion It will take all of Will Shakespeare s writing skill to do both things with the same piece of writing A good solid four out of five stars Warning If you read GUNS OF THE SOUTH by Harry Turtledove and thought it was a classic don t imagine this book is going to be the same kind of story.
I have to admit that the premise was intriguing What if Spain had conquered in England in 1588 And what if William Shakespeare had become a shadowy fighter in the underground, trying to drive out the Spanish by writing fiery patriotic plays in secret Unfortunately, there is almost NO military action in this book until fifty pages before the end And there are hundreds and hundreds of pages of theater gossip, Shakespeare quotes, dirty jokes, and Shakespeare going on and on and on and on about how scared he is of being caught by the Spanish The main Spanish character is Lope De Vega, another real life playwright But in this book he s really annoying, he just lusts after women, one after another, and gets in boring sword fights which he wins by fighting dirty And he treats women like dirt, and I didn t find him charming at all Oh, and all the woman characters with the exception of one sexy witch who outshone everybody else in the book were either nagging hags or giggling sluts with big bosoms for ever on display Bring back the Harry Turtledove who wrote GUNS OF THE SOUTH First sentence Two Spanish soldiers swaggered up Tower Street toward William Shakespeare Their boots squelched in the mud One wore a rusty corselet with his high crowned morion, the other a similar helmet with a jacket of quilted cotton Rapiers swung at their hips Premise plot What if the English navy had not defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 What if instead of Queen Elizabeth reigning in the year 1597 she was instead locked away in the Tower Turtledove gives us alternate history in his novel Ruled Britannia It is told primarily from two perspectives William Shakespeare and Lope de Vega Shakespeare has a choice to make Should he commit treason against Spain and write a play that could potentially help overthrow Spain s rule and restore Elizabeth to the throne Or should he play it safe and write a play memorializing King Philip II of Spain Perhaps he ll be crafty and do both.
but which one will get performed upon the King s death Lope de Vega is in awe of William Shakespeare He can nearly always be found watching his plays, watching the actors on and off stage, hanging around and conversing He s a soldier on a mission be on the lookout for any treason, any subversive meanings in the plays he watches Some higher ups are suspicious of Shakespeare but not de Vega, not really Shakespeare doesn t care who rules so long as he can write, right My thoughts I imagine that Ruled Brittania was an absolute joy to write Turtledove claims and I have no reason to doubt that he repurposed many, many lines from actual Shakespeare plays into new Shakespeare plays in this alternate history In addition to Shakespeare, he used other contemporary playwrights from the time to craft his new plays and dramas He obviously felt it was important to bring Shakespeare to life and so he relied on Shakespeare s own words to flesh out his character and his dialogue Like William Shakespeare, Lope de Vega is a real historical figure a Spanish playwright from this time period who at least according to the author s note sailed on the Spanish Armada and returned to Spain to have a successful career Did I enjoy reading it as much as Turtledove enjoyed writing it Probably not In fact, I found it MUCH too long tedious even I was interested in the bare bones of this one I wanted to know WHAT happened overall would Shakespeare s play about Boudica alternate spellings Boudicca, Boadicea, Boudicea rebelling against the Roman Empire happen Would it be successful Would Elizabeth reign once There were dozens of characters that peopled this novel that I just did not care about at all not even slightly I imagine that some perhaps many were actual historical figures I just didn t care Perhaps if the author s note was placed FIRST, I might have tried to care harder Perhaps if there was a list of characters noting which were historical and which were fictional Perhaps if there were footnotes indicating which lines came from which actual Shakespeare plays or noting the other sources used One thing I know without a doubtthe chapters were unreasonably LONGinsufferably long Short chapters were around thirty five pages long WHY TORTURE READERS You take a perfectly good premise an entertaining one and practically do everything possible to drain all the enjoyment of actually reading it Story 10 could perhaps use some pruning but enormously fun Characters 10 a charming cast of honest men and reprobates Accuracy 9 I mean, it didn t happen, but the period details are solid and the changes plausible Does the idea of seeing William Shakespeare as a rebel agent appeal to you If so, this is the book for you an alternate history novel set in a world where the Spanish Armada was a success and Spain has occupied England for a decade Shakespeare s life took much the same course as it did in real life indeed, he was already well on his way at the time of the Armada and so he is recruited, as London s greatest playwright, to write a play that will rouse the English to rebellion Simultaneously, he s commissioned by the Spanish to write a play glorifying Philip II to promote the cause of Spain Obviously this means conflict.
The greatest element of this book for me is the use of authentic Elizabethan English Everything sounds as if coming from a Shakespeare play, and not that neutered pseudo Elizabethan formal dialect so popular in filmic works set in Shakespeare s day Love it as I did, the dialogue in Bernard Cornwell s magisterial Shakespearian novelFools and Mortalsdid not convey the feel of the time as easily as this book did This novel s full of Elizabethan slang and sentence patterns Swounds, sblood, grammercy and a lot of decidely raunchy puns It feels like the words Shakespeare and crew might have spoken not the clever, artificial prose of his plays but a real, living language And it s an absolute pleasure to read I include a few samples of witty lines below Thine husband Despite his horror, de Vega had the sense to keep his voice to a whisper Lying minx, thou saidst thou wert a widow Well, I would be, if he were dead, she answered, her tone absurdly reasonable On cures for impotence And have you a physic for the infirmity in s firmity I ll pray for you, Shakespeare said Belike twill do me no lasting harm, Marlowe answered I thank you, he said grudgingly I d thank you had you come sooner There s the difference twixt our sexes, Kate agreed, her voice sweet.
I don t usually praise a book for its writing style, but when it s such a joy to read even if difficult at times how can you not get lost in it To keep things from getting too confused, only the English dialogue and related text such as internal thoughts is given in this manner Spanish and Latin are written in a formal version of modern English, as is the narration and description This works surprisingly well, never feeling like a battle of rival styles.
The characters are great too Will s a bit too nice perhaps not anachronistically modern like the leads in so many historical novels, but a standup Elizabethan guy whose only real fault is an absence of bravery My personal suspicion is that the real Shakespeare was akin to a businessman that we might expect and less keen to be seen as a representative of his art than to advance his social standing upon retirement in Stratford he seems to have reinvented himself as a self made gentleman I also believe he was a bit of a scoundrel if society deems you unclean it takes a strong man to fight it , a role here occupied exclusively by Christopher Marlowe I love this Kit He s a madman An absolute madman Openly gay in a time where sodomy is punishable by death, openly atheistic when that could result in even worse fates, and recklessly intent on being near the center of every intrigue and plot in England, he s a rogue whose daring you can t help but admire even as he hurls spanners into the works with wild abandon Also great fun are the other members of the Lord Westmorland s n e Lord Chamberlain s Men Especially the great rivalry between leading dramatic actor Richard Burbage and leading comic actor Will Kemp Burbage is basically sensible while Kemp is even fearless and scandalous than Marlowe, though he confines his madness to mockery of everyone in range, regardless of social standing, rather than through acts of high treason.
The co lead of the piece is the Spanish soldier and playwright Lope de Vega He s serving the crown of Spain by keeping an ear out for loose talk at the theatres of London, a duty which he greatly loves as he enjoys English theater immensely and is a big fan of Shakespeare in particular But since this is a spy novel in addition to a novel about the theatrical life, he s there to be a not unfriendly antagonist to our English heroes The cat and mouse game he plays is limited, as he doesn t really want them to be guilty of treason, but he s no less of a threat Should he find them out it s clear that he would feel honor bound to have them hanged Or worse He s a fun character, lively and obsessed with honor The ease at which he resorts to dueling is a clear difference between the English and Spanish He s also or less permanently in love, often with multiple girls at the same time His romantic entanglements, needlessly complicated, are some of the book s funniest moments.
If any of that sounds appealing to you, whether the idea of a resistance movement in occupied England or just the opportunity to see what life as an Elizabethan Phillipian actor was like, this is probably a book you ll enjoy It is a bit long for the story it has to tell, but if you re enjoying the journey enough it s hard to desire less of it For my part it s one of my favorites in the genre.
Harry Turtledove has made alternative history historical fiction his own His books range widely in the history of mankind and when he indulges in a particular period of interest, we all benefit In this book, he imagines a Britain almost a decade after the Spanish Armada when Spain has conquered those Isles Then he drops Will Shakespeare into the tale and we are off and running.
Historical, humorous, bawdy, and thrilling, Turtledove, deftly mixes his batter and takes time to let it rise Everyone has a secret or two and some, if known, might only terminate a relationship, while others perhaps pried out by the Inquisitors could result in a public and slow death.
Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, the legendary Richard Burbage the actor of his era and owner of London s Globe theater , Queen Elizabeth still alive and in the Tower , King Philip dying and a blend of familiar and created characters makes this a delightful invention.
When I am in a different world or period, I appreciate the opportunity to taste, smell and listen to it One thing that the reader can count on, with a Turtledove novel of the past, is the depth of research of that period Ruled Britannia is a joy with the detailed customs and culture that are laid open to us The thing that I may have enjoyed the most is the period language and how rich and different it is from 21st century English For example Good den, Master Seymour, he said Why, Master Shakespeare God give you good den as well, Harry Seymour replied He was a tall, lean man who would have been good looking had he not had a large, hairy wen on the end of his nose Do you but pass the time of day, or can I find summat for you I am always pleased to pass the time of day with you, Shakespeare answered, which was true he d never known Seymour to print or sell pirated plays He went on, But if you ve the Annals of Tacitus done into English, I d be pleased to buy it of you As my head lives, Master Shakespeare, I do indeed And I ll take oath I fetched hither some few of that title this morning Seymour came around to the front of the stall Now where did I put em Ah Here we are He handed Shakespeare a copy Will you want it for a play I might But my Latin doth state with disuse, wherefore I m fain to take the short road to reminding me what he treats of Shakespeare admired the ornate first page, illustrated with a woodcut of swaggering, toga clad Romans A handsome volume, I ll not deny He held up the translation What s the scot Six shillings, Harry Seymour answered My good fellow, you are a thief professed, Shakespeare exclaimed But your theft is too open Your filching is like an unskilled singer you keep not time Say what you will, Will, but I ll have my price or you ll not have your book You know not what I had to pay Master Daniels, he which rendered into our tongue the noble Roman s words, Seymour protested.
Sensing weakness, Shakespeare pressed him That you re a subtle knave, a villain with a smiling cheek, makes you no less a knave and villain He made as if to thrust the Annals back at Seymour Turtledove is masterful in giving us enough of the difference without making the reader reach for an olde English dictionary every sentence The author also demonstrates his skill in his measured increase in tension as Will Shakespeare gets himself deeper and deeper into a plot plots to overthrow the Spaniards Some will be displeased with the slow pace of this novel Yet, I know a number of my GR friends will be delighted with the language and details At a time where a penny was of value and three could buy a satisfying full meal at a pub or ordianary, Turtledove gives us as complete picture as I have found of London life Though the plot is imagined, he always sails close to the shore of reality I am not a devotee of massive books but I enjoyed this journey very much for its ability to put me in touch with this fascinating era Though for some this final excerpt will have an icky component, I found that its informative value trumps any of that He began to blubber God bless you, sir Oh, God bless you, he said I tread on you and then you give me good for evil, as our Lord says a man ought to do.
The skinny young man blew his nose on the fingers on the hand that wasn t holding the money, wiped them on his shabby doublet and hurried out of the lodging house 4.
5 PS Here are some of the than 100 epithets thrown at various characters in Ruled Britannia You re a bloody kern knavish fool caitiff rogue block head cobbler thou dishclout wretched puling fool Spartan dog idle headed boor starveling popinjay you abject anatomy lucky clotpoll thou rt not only a fool, but ass and dog as well preaching pig butcher limb of Satan thou mooncalf scroyle the Devil damn thee black impersevant thing recreant blackguard a stuffed man a very dull fool dumb discoursive devil damnable box of envy ass head fond monster mad mooncalf dotard fool s zany Iterative comic relief is provided by Constable Walter Strawberry who is likely modeled on the character Dogberry from Shakespeare s Much Ado About Nothing I have spake English since I was a puling babe it is the tongue of my captivity, Strawberry said You, then, needs must be inerrant Would that I were Lope exclaimed.
I was excited when I discovered this book at a library sale Alternative history is a favorite genre of mine, and this fat, juicy looking novel featured a promising premise What if instead of England defeating the Spanish Armada, Spain was victorious Mr Turtledove sets his story in London nine years after Spanish soldiers have occupied Britain Elizabeth I has been imprisoned in the Tower of London Isabella, daughter of Philip the II of Spain, rules the country in her stead Agents of the Inquisition prowl the city like members of the KGB, on the lookout for Protestant heretics who fail to go to Mass, eat meat during Lent, or celebrate Christian holidays according to their old calendar rather than the one imposed by the Pope.
The plot centers around William Shakespeare yes, THAT Shakespeare a meek and mild guy who s trying to eke out a living as a playwright and actor in Richard Burbage s company Then he is drawn into a plot by remnants of the old English power structure, asked to write a secret play that will inspire the British to revolt and drive out their Spanish masters Alas this moderately good idea for a book was spoiled, for me at least, by the writing First of all, the events of the book do not in any way merit its length The tale meanders along, with detailed but repetitious descriptions of the filth, misery and violence that characterized London in 1597 Shakespeare fears for his life but believes he has no choice but to keep writing his subversive play Other well known figures show up the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, Will Kemp the Clown, Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe One has the feeling that the author wants to wallow in the time period and doesn t care all that much how he manages it.
By far the most aggravating aspect of the book, however, is the fact that Mr Turtledove takes lines from Shakespeare s plays and puts them into the mouths of his characters not just Shakespeare himself, but everyone else as well And he doesn t just do this occasionally, but constantly Even when they re not quoting the Bard, the characters use similar language but to someone who has even a passing familiarity with Shakespeare s oeuvre, the quotes show up like flares, out of context and totally interrupting the flow of the story.
I did finish the book it wasn t bad enough to make me quit in the middle However, I ll think twice before reading anything else by this author.