Much has been written about the man we know as William Shakespeare, but author Jacopo della Quercia combines history with intrigue and puts Shakespeare at the center of some political uprising.
William Shakespeare’s political insight, as well as his commitment to serving the Crown, makes him the perfect spy among the common man, especially when the country is on the verge of a major uprising led by a man Shakespeare comes to know as Guy Fawkes. Shakespeare is invited to be a part of the uprising, making him the perfect set of eyes and ears for the government.
Joining Shakespeare in his undercover activities is fellow playwright Christopher Marlowe. Marlower has tried to leave the dangerous life of a spy, faking his death and living in Italy.
Meanwhile, Shakespeare is asked by the conspirators to write a play with an anti-monarchist message based in Scotland. (Hmm… wonder that could be…)
I’ve read books and stories with Shakespeare as a main character before, but I don’t recall ever reading one with the bard as spy. This story has a lot of intrigue – it’s a political thriller set in the 1500’s. It’s fun to see the possibility of someone of Shakespeare’s stature, known for his plays and acting, getting directly involved in something that could be from one of his plays.
What I didn’t enjoy so much – and I’m probably alone on this – was the historical footnotes.
Throughout the book there are footnotes detailing a historical event, meant, I presume, to show that indeed things could have happened this way. But I found these distracting. I was following the story well enough and was willing to suspend disbelief based on the storytelling. Adding the notes only served to remind me that I was reading fiction within the historical world.
I’m not generally a fan of political thrillers because I tend to find them a little boring. I did find that to be the case here as, at times, the story moved a little too slowly.
The idea of Shakespeare and Marlowe being Tudor era James Bonds is fun but should be a lot more exciting.
Looking for a good book? License to Quill by Jacopo della Quercia is a fun, though at times slow, story putting William Shakespeare in the role of spy, coming between his government and the rousing Guy Fawkes.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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License to Quill
author: Jacopo della Quercia
publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
paperback, 384 pages