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King of Shadows [Turtleback]

Susan Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 2001

I lay very still, with all my senses telling me that I had gone mad. The plague? Nobody's had the plague for centuries . . .

Nathan Field, a talented young actor, arrives at the newly rebuilt Globe Theatre in London to play Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. As rehearsals begin, eerie echoes of the past begin to haunt Nat, and he falls sick with a mysterious sickness.

When he wakes, Nat finds himself in 1599, an actor at the original Globe - and his co-star is none other than the King of Shadows himself: William Shakespeare.

Nat's new life is full of excitement, danger and the passionate friendship that he has longed for since the tragic death of his parents. But why has he been sent to the past - and is he trapped there forever?

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Turtleback
  • Publisher: Demco Media (Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0606212817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0606212816
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,039,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

King of Shadows is an exceptional work by Susan Cooper, bestselling author of

The Dark is Rising, Over Sea Under Stone, Silver on the Tree and many other magical and atmospheric books, and will not disappoint those who already wallow in the author's startling ability to conjure up clear images of place and time with the stroke of a pen.

Here we meet young Nat Field, a boy actor visiting London to perform at The Globe Theatre. Nat soon falls ill, and much to the amazement of the doctors looking after him, he has contracted the Bubonic Plague. As one young actor lies in isolation in Guy's Hospital, another wakes up in Elizabethan London and is drawn into rehearsals for A Midsummer Night's Dream alongside William Shakespeare himself and the two form a bond that can never be broken, even through time.

King of Shadows is a daring and complex novel, set against the backdrop of the life of an unhappy child who, by travelling unwittingly through time, learns how to face his real life troubles. As ever, Cooper's delicious descriptive prose combine with her elegant dialogue to bring her characters vividly to life, never taking the easy option, but allowing her players to develop and come to terms with their lives in their own time.

A remarkable book that is as intriguing as it is entertaining, King of Shadows could well be the best Susan Cooper yet. (Age 10 and over) --Susan Harrison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A masterful novel" (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Nat Field, a young American orphan traumatized by the death of his father, comes to England to play Puck at The Globe. Somewhat bizarrely, he contracts Bubonic Plague and is rushed to Guy's. The next morning he wakes up in the house of Richard Burbage in 1599 and is raced off to The Globe to play (you've guessed it!) Puck in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Naturally, he meets Shakespeare and Gloriana and....I won't ruin any more of this fabulous story.
Susan Cooper has written a novel of genuine historical interest ( I have been researching the life of the real Nathaniel Field ever since) and powerful emotional impact - the end is breathtaking. I cried. Both times I read it. And I'm a 31 year old man!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Shakespeare to life - a must-read 22 May 2012
By beccalikesbooks TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I must have read this book at least ten years ago, when it first came out, and I still rate it highly.

It's the story of Nat, a very normal American teenage boy who comes to London with his theatre troupe to perform A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Globe Theatre. However, he becomes suddenly very ill and awakes from a feverish dream... in Shakespeare's time.

By an eerie twist of fate he seems to have taken the place of a boy called Nate, who is also set to play the character of Puck in Shakespeare's Dream. Shakespeare himself is playing Oberon, and the relationship that Nat (who is still reeling from the death of his own father back in America) develops with the great man is incredibly moving.

What really makes this book stand out is the attention to detail - I learnt so much about how theatres of that time worked, the language they used and all the major characters who played a part , such as Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, and a brief appearance by Queen Elizabeth I. Cooper has obviously done her research into the era and it is bought vividly to life with the sounds and smells and sights of the city, from waste rotting in the streets, the ale and rough meaty pasties that they eat, bear-baiting, and the lush textures of the gorgeous costumes created for the play. It is these elements that ground the book in reality and make the somewhat fantastical time-travel aspect completely believable.

The book also explores the text of A Midsummer Night's Dream in a fascinating and accessible way, linking it to Shakespeare's life. If any book is going to make teenagers want to read Shakespeare, study Tudor history and visit the Globe, then I truly believe that this is it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 20 Jan 2008
One of the best Books I've read, and considering how many books I have read it is really really good!
I definitely recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 2 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was sad when I finished the book, like leaving a friend - it is a book to immerse youself in
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not as wonderful as her other books 9 July 2003
By cassie
I have always loved The Dark Is Rising Sequence by this author, counting it as one of my favourite reads. I was therefore delighted to find that she had written another book. However, I was disappointed by this attempt. Although I loved her portrayal of Shakespeare and his relations with Nat, I felt that not enough care was taken to ensure that the story was even halfway believable and I was disappointed by the rather rushed and predictable ending. I do feel that this book is worth reading though, as it shows flashes of the genius that ran through her earlier books.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is an excellent book by Cooper and is a book that can be enjoyed by all. Though the rushed ending lets the book down a lot (Making it 3* rather than 5*)this book is imagenative and interesting. It is just the book to spring a persons mind into action. The book is easy to pick-up and understand, after reading it in school and missing C. 5 chapters I still understood the book. This book is a MUST for anyone wanting to read an superb story by an exellent author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting 8 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I did this for my hlp homework, however after I started reading I just couldn't stop! It was amazing! Cheesysideburns007
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The plot starts off reasonably enough: Nathan Field is a modern-day Apple Pie American schoolboy who comes over to England with his all-male drama group to put on a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the new Globe Theatre. So far so good. Unfortunately, no sooner has Nat arrived in the city of red telephone boxes and black cabs than he picks up bubonic plague from nowhere and after a few odd moments, finds himself in the previous Globe Theatre 400 years ago. Yes, not the rebuild but Shakespeare's original wooden square-shaped sewer-pit theatre, complete with actors (and no actresses) from the period.

Nat seems to take this sudden change of time and place remarkably well and soon puts his all into rehearsals for the big number they're planning to put on for Madge, known in those days as Queen Elizabeth (the White One). By the way, communicating with humans from 400 years ago doesn't faze our Nat. Despite the fact that there is no chance that modern-day Americans and 16th-century Londoners would have a clue what the other was saying, throw in a few instances of `thou' and `tha' now and again and it seems all language barriers are no longer a problem.
Anyway, "why is this happening to me?" For a start, is it a dream? No, it's worse than that. Nat has changed places with another Nathan Field - this one from the 1590s - who is now busy sweating it out at Guy's Hospital (or St Thomas' or wherever) because something extremely odd has happened. Don't bank on the explanation making any sense at all.

Meanwhile, Nat Number 1 (the American who has gone back in time) meets the Bard himself and quicker than you can say `Romeo and Juliet', Wills and Master Nat are bezzies.

Young Nat, by the way, is the pint-sized equivalent of New Man.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Bought on behalf of my daughter.
She is a school teacher and it is what she requested, so I cannot comment other than to say delivery was efficient.
Published 7 months ago by My fault!
1.0 out of 5 stars BOOOOOOORING!!
I read this book as part of an English assignement and was hoping for great things but I was very disappointed. well, where to begin? Read more
Published 9 months ago by mazey
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Studied it in our English class. But I had to read again. It It is a cleverly written book . Woo
Published 9 months ago by Charlie ...
4.0 out of 5 stars not very well written but a great read for young teens
This was one of the first books i remember enjoying as a kid. After a re-read I've established that it's pretty badly written, but i can still understand why i enjoyed the plot so... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Nadine
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
At first I thought it was going to be a rubbish book but it was way above my expectation! A must have , it is a great book with an amazing twist.
Published 14 months ago by Orlando Alford
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Shakespeare to life
I loved The Dark is Rising as a child, and came across this later book only recently. Susan Cooper' s language and imagery are as enchanting as ever, and although this book is for... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Carolyn Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars A great time-travel book!
The King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
Reviewed by Heena Pala

"King of Shadows" is a skilfully-written book about Nathan Field. Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2012 by Heena
5.0 out of 5 stars King of Shadows
A fabulous book that really brings Shakespearean London to life. Nat Field travels back in time and meets the great man himself and gets to perform Puck at The Globe! Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2011 by JP
4.0 out of 5 stars king of shadows
this book is absoloutly amazing! we read this book in english at school and no one had a bad word to say about it.
Published on 31 Dec 2010
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