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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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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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 March 2013

When i get to the end of a book im always eager to sit and write the review, to express my opinion and feelings of the work i have just finished. I think this is probably the first time i have been intimidated by the process, worried that i didnt have the right words or the eloquence to do justice to the book.

Yes the book is simply that good.

I have read many stories where the authors love of the subject is clear in the telling of the story. But this time its more than that its a passion for the tale, for the time, for the people and for the subject. This passion leaps from every word, every utterance of every character the very bones and soul of the story.

The synopsis will tell you enough about the plot im certainly not going to spoil a single line of it for you. What my utmost desire is by writing this, is that you go and buy a copy. Because this story has it all; a love story, a family story, History, mystery and intrigue, passion, sex, plots, fighting, infighting, backstabbing...the list could go on and on. Its is the complete package.

A book this good comes along only rarely and deserves to hit the bestseller list.

Highest recommendation


London 1599, a city on the brink of revolution...

He is Queen Elizabeth's last, perhaps her greatest, love - Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex. Champion jouster, dashing general...and the man that John Lawley, England's finest swordsman, most wishes to avoid. For John knows the other earl - the reckless melancholic - and has had to risk his life for him in battle one time too many.

All John wants is to be left alone to win back the heart of the woman he loves, be the kind of father that his son can look up to, and arrange the fight scenes for the magnificent new theatre, the Globe. To realise these dreams, John must dodge both Essex and his ruthless adversary for the queen's affections, Robert Cecil, and remain free to help his oldest friend Will Shakespeare finish the play that threatens to destroy him: THE TRAGEDY OF HAMLET.

But John is doomed by his three devils: whisky, women and Mad Robbie Deveraux. Despite every effort to evade the clutches of Elizabeth and her cohorts, John is soon enmeshed in the intrigues of court and dragged into the seemingly hopeless war in Ireland, forced to play his part in a deadly game of power and politics, conspiracy and rebellion.

From the scaffold of the Globe to the one in the Tower. From ambush in Ireland to even greater menace in Whitehall, John Lawley must strive to be - or not to be - the man who might just save England.
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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 23 March 2013
One has come to expect the best in historical fiction from all the books of the prolific CC Humphreys but his new novel, Shakespeare's Rebel, shows him moving on to new heights.

Set in the romantic and transitional era of Elizabethan London, this new book is not only literary adventure of the highest order, offering up spies,Queens,wenches and the clash of expert swordplay but it takes us deep into what appears to be the author's noblest obsession - the world of the theater stage and more specifically, the works of William Shakespeare.

Humphreys clearly knows the hearts of actors and playwrights very well. He conjures a setting so real that we experience the anguish that old Will went though to bring Hamlet into being on the most personal level and the chapter describing its first performance is the best thing this talented writer has ever done. Few novels can move you so deeply.

Those who know Humphreys' other works will thrill to some new secrets revealed here but newcomers will be swept along by the swashbuckling complexities of John Lawley who finds himself caught up in the middle of the civil war brewing between the mad romantic, the Earl of Essex and the dangerously modern state bureaucrat, Cecil.

As always with Humphreys, there is enough furious action and delightful sex to keep the momentum going at a breakneck pace but woven into the creative arras is a stunning portrait of life as the whole world pivots around the past and the future in the year 1599 and a deeply held respect for the individual and all his strivings.

So, yes this book is exciting and interesting and fun but it also shows a breakthrough for Humphreys to a new level of maturity and commitment and passion as a writer - in as fine a novel as you'll read this year.
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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 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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on 23 May 2013
The writer forgets that his obsession may not be that of his customers/readers. There was a good plot there but it was spoiled by the writer's love of actors/players. The modern day phenomenon of viewing the actor as more than just a profession was not matched in history. Patronage may have made some wealthy but patronage was fickle and not widely spread.
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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 29 July 2014
For goodness sake. Once gain I am half way through a book and find out that it is in fact a long term continuation of some of this others. Not one clue to this in the 'product description' which is in fact a load of reviews from somewhere else. Excellent book good story but why oh why can't the publishers give the Kindle book a proper product description and tell us how it relates to his other work.
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