New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell makes a dramatic departure with this enthralling, action-packed standalone novel that tells the story of the first production of A Midsummer Night's Dream--as related by William Shakespeare's estranged younger brother.
Lord, what fools these mortals be . . .
In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue. As William's star rises, Richard's onetime gratitude is souring and he is sorely tempted to abandon family loyalty.
So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing him onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London. Entangled in a high-stakes game of duplicity and betrayal which threatens not only his career and potential fortune, but also the lives of his fellow players, Richard has to call on all he has now learned from the brightest stages and the darkest alleyways of the city. To avoid the gallows, he must play the part of a lifetime . . . .
Showcasing the superb storytelling skill that has won Bernard Cornwell international renown, Fools and Mortals is a richly portrayed tour de force that brings to life a vivid world of intricate stagecraft, fierce competition, and consuming ambition.
- ISBN-13: 9780062250872
- ISBN-10: 0062250876
- Publisher: Book Depot
- Publish Date: November 2018
Brother of the Bard
There’s something audacious about fictionalizing even a portion of the life of William Shakespeare. Bernard Cornwell is well versed in historical writing—he’s perhaps the living king of the genre at this point—but this is Shakespeare we’re talking about. It’s intimidating territory, and not every novelist can do it well.
With his usual knack for detail and characterization, Cornwell plunges fearlessly into Shakespearean England for his latest novel. Fools and Mortals follows Richard, William’s brother, as he longs for a career on the London stage. Loyal to his brother, Richard watches as William rises through the ranks of English theater, even as his own career achieves nothing near the same level of success. This tests his loyalty, and things get worse when a manuscript goes missing, casting suspicion on Richard and threatening the lives of everyone around him.
The first thing readers will notice in Fools and Mortals, as they will in Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, is the voice. Richard tells his own story, and as crafted by Cornwell’s skilled hands, he tells it beautifully. Right away, there’s a sense of the Shakespearean balance of wit and drama. Just as he did with his series of novels on Alfred the Great, Cornwell places us in proximity to history we know and then brushes greater depth and detail into the personal story he’s trying to convey. Readers will long to hear more from Richard and for more details about Elizabethan stagecraft.
If you love historical fiction, Shakespeare, Cornwell’s work or all of the above, Fools and Mortals is a must-read. It’s a riveting novel driven by a distinctive voice that’s sure to hook you.