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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2013
C. C. Humphreys is an automatic purchase for me, that's how much trust I put in his ability to entertain me. With 'Shakespeare's Rebel' he again proves worthy of that trust. The story is fast paced, exciting and peopled with engaging well realised characters. The central flawed hero John Lawley has an almost Flashman like ability to end up in the thick of the action while doing his utmost to avoid it. All he wants to do is return to worming his way back into the affections of his love Tess. In short, you get just about everything in this story: love, action, conspiracy, betrayal and a little black humour...highly recommended.
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on 19 July 2017
First class
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on 26 December 2013
I have read quite a few books by this brilliant author but Shakespeare's Rebel is my favourite; the skilful mix of historical and fictional characters in the London of 1599, within a story that mixes wonderful creativity with historical fact, gives the reader a true insight into England in the late Elizabethan era. It's a phenomenal book that entertains and enlightens in equal measure. Simply superb.
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on 17 February 2016
Headline says it all and by Sun, not only do I mean the paper but also our star, so I could burn my eyes out rather than read something like this again. Humphrey's is another author I'd like to take to court and see if he could be convicted for crimes against literature. If money was no problem I'd buy every copy of this book and use it for loo paper, mind you it would be difficult to distinguish the words from the contents on the paper. To think I wasted a penny to buy this garbage. Why do I even have to give one star ? Absolute cack, my brain has been polluted by sewer literature, this book should come with a government health warning
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on 3 June 2013
I LIKED THE BOOK but was not as enamoured about it as I have been as the ones before , this author has written better books than this. The book did not grip me as others have.
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on 24 September 2013
John Lawley is not Jack Absolute by any stretch, in fact I never really warmed to him, but CC Humphreys' sense of period and his knowledge of swords and Shakespeare mostly made up for that. At times I was more interested in the players than the plot, but I was keen to stay in his Elizabethan London, particularly if the players are once again involved!
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on 14 October 2014
At the time of writing, Amazon want to know if reviews are from ‘verified purchases’. I shall show I have read the book by making references to the 2013 paperback edition.

And I quote from p119, “Laughing, he whipped the cork from the bottle and thrust it towards John, the sharp alkaline savour surging through his head like a shot, clearing and nauseating at the same time. There was a collision, liquid slopped, its sour taint filling the room, at last dispelling the rich scent of love’s conjoined juices that had ruled to that point.”

If that gets you going, especially the last sentence, then you might enjoy 394 pages (p3-396) of similar. There is also ‘clunky’ dialogue (and I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten to note the page number), eg “Do you remember when ... ?” as a crude device for a long explanation, rather than a more realistic “yes”.

The hero has (I kid you not) been round the world with Drake and fought in the Armada, fought alongside Essex at Cadiz, had private audiences with Queen Elizabeth and seen her naked, met William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, helped WS finish “Hamlet”, been an actor, got a lady pregnant, cost her her entire estate, run away, and yet she still loves him (!), been branded as a murderer, and incarcerated in the tower for treason. Oh good grief.

Further, just to tick a PC box, he’s of mixed race. Are we due in a sequel for a remarkably historically inaccurate revelation of bisexuality, which everyone will be just fine with ?

Spoiler alert. In the end, he negotiates a ridiculously open contract do to what he wants, despite all the ‘secret police’ aspects of Elizabeth’s reign, gets the above girl, is awarded his own coat of arms, and the happy couple are miraculously gifted an entire replacement estate.

I readily admit to not being an Elizabethan era expert, but isn’t all that just a bit too much to believe ? Escapism is one thing, but ridiculous levels of hokum are another. Despite it being well-known that the clothing was difficult to get into, a Queen’s maid, having a bit on the side with our hero, apparently gets dressed quickly (p162). And what is a Queen’s maid, on pain of exclusion from the court and possibly even death, doing having a bit on the side without Queen Elizabeth’s permission (p159) in the first place ?

According to the author’s notes, p400, the novel deals with themes of the new overtaking the old. Sorry, missed those completely, despite having a 2:1 in English.
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VINE VOICEon 25 January 2014
John Lawley really wants to be left alone—actually, there are three items on his “bucket list”—to win back the heart of the woman he loves, to be a great father to his son, and (and these two are important to theatre lovers!) to arrange fight scenes for the new Globe theater and to help his oldest friend Will Shakespeare finish the play that threatens to destroy him!

Yes, it’s Elizabethan England and in C.C. Humphreys’ “Shakespeare’s Rebel,” we find all the intrigue, drama, deceit, corruption, and even evil-doing in one fell swoop of a novel.

With Elizabeth’s fascination (attraction!) to the Earl of Essex (Robert Deveraux) occupying much of Her Majesty’s attention (she has lots of other things on her mind, too, of course). Essex seems to have no leash on his unfettered actions, much to the dismay and chagrin of many at court. What a mess he can be. And throw in “the troubles” with Ireland (will they never cease?), it’s a wonder Lawley (much less the Queen) can keep sane.

In facing all of these trials and tribs, Lawley also has his own demons in the form of whisky and women. What’s a poor Elizabethan man to do!

But what this reviewer perhaps found most fascinating were the bits and pieces of historical commentary from that period. Humphreys’ work could be scholarly, yet it reads—as it should—as a well-written, easy to follow novel. Lawley’s relationship with the Bard himself certainly creates much literary interest (Will “Hamlet” be completed and known as Will’s greatest work? Will it?). Suspense, period action, intrigue, drama—all add up to an excellent read. The play may be “the thing,” but this novel is worth the price of admission!
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on 4 February 2014
I hadn't read historical fiction in a while when I picked up Shakespeare's Rebeland I have to say it was a great read on a number of levels. It's not the first book I've read by C.C. Humphreys , I 'd previously enjoyed The French Executioner but this far surpassed even that.

The author created a great sense of the London of Shakespeare's time from the filth, to the various street tableaus with the vendors etc., pedestrian crush and general haphazardness along with quite detailed descriptions of the geography of the city. From the start of the story, I liked John Lawley the hero but, again, he is skillfully drawn by the author in that you are drawn to like him but you're not unaware of his failings, most of all his selfishness and undependability - to read a character drawn this roundly is fantastic. The research and detail regarding swordplay is entertaining and educational without ever becoming a lecture on minutia that would be boring.

Beyond all this great stuff, though, there were two elements of the book which I particularly enjoyed. The first was how the capriciousness of the nobility, particularly Essex, Cecil and Elizabeth is portrayed - they all came across as totally ruthless and self-absorbed not caring how they treated their 'pawns' or what affect their decisions had on their lives. It is partially the way they treat Lawley that makes you sympathetic towards him.

The other great element of the book is how well the role the theatre played in society is portrayed and the implications this had for the principals involved such as the writers and actors. More than entertainment or soap opera, the theatre allowed the common populace to give vent to their feelings in relation to the affairs of the day. The theatre had the ability to enflame the passions of the crowd or to lance the boil.

I can't end the review without a quick word on two other items. The scene where Essex rushes back to London with the reluctant Lawley in tow and barges in on Elizabeth is brilliantly written, particularly the climax. And, finally, the author's note at the end of the book is well worth reading, entertaining in its own right and informative.
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on 10 March 2015
Superb read. Couldn't put it down. Great main character in Lawley, who would like nothing better than to act, be a husband and father and stage the fights in Shakespeare's plays, but who becomes an unwilling pawn in warring court factions represented by Robert Cecil, who oversaw the equivalent of an Elizabethean CIA, and the Earl of Essex, Elizabeth's ambitious favorite courtier. A good and believable presentation of Shakespeare as a character. and a satisfying description of the first staging of Hamlet. I've read many novels featuring Essex and his complicated relationship with Elizabeth and this novel's approach to their relationship is well done. I also appreciated the sense of being plunged into the glory, vigor, and danger of the Elizabethean world itself, where a misspoken word could easily land one in the Tower on a charge of treason, punishable by one of the goriest deaths ever invented, unless you were nobility, of course, and then you merely had your head removed.

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