epilogue here, unless you make it;
you want your freedom, go and take it.”
is 1597, nine years after the Spanish armada landed.
England is under the heel of King Phillip, and his daughter
Isabella is on the throne. Elizabeth, after being raped, is locked in the
tower of London. This is where William Shakespeare comes in.
is hired to produce a play, which will inspire the English to rise up
against their oppressors. To complicate things, he is then hired by the
Spanish to produce a play praising King Phillip. That is all I wish to go
in regarding the plot, as it is simply too good to tell more of. Suffice
it to say that Shakespeare has a few narrow escapes, and eventually
chooses which play to bit on.
works, to Turtledove’s credit, sound like Shakespeare. He actually used
quotes from Shakespeare’s works to make the text for the plays, and
lines from them are scattered throughout. Shakespeare himself is a very
good character; he’s a Catholic, and prefers that over Protestantism,
but helps to fight against the dons of his own free will. The antagonist,
Lope De Vega, is a Spaniard playwright who serves as a soldier, and is a
great admirer of Shakespeare’s work. He actually ends up cast in the
role for the Spaniard play, and refuses to believe, despite the warnings,
that Shakespeare might commit an act of treason.
And Lope’s… infidelity cause him a great deal of trouble,
especially when he decides to get involved in a relationship among the
the book’s entire cast is varied. Shakespeare’s fellow boarders are
varied; from the man who apprentices to be a beggar to Cicely Sellis, who
everyone believes to be a witch. It’s very interesting to see
Shakespeare, considered one of the greatest authors of all time, terrified
of a witch.
book’s main problem is that there is frustratingly little information
about the rest of Europe. We know the Danes are still free, and the French
are still important, but there are conflicting messages about the Dutch.
The ending feels anticlimactic as well; one is left with the
feeling that there is more going on than the reader is informed of.
such quibbles are ultimately unimportant. Ruled Britannia offers not only
an insightful look into Elizabethan (Isabellan?) era, and is one of
Harry’s best novels yet. If the rest of his books were of this caliber,
there would be a great many fewer complaints.