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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 31 December 2010
this book is absoloutly amazing! we read this book in english at school and no one had a bad word to say about it.
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on 24 January 2013
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 teenagers, I found it absorbing. It conveys a wealth of historical detail along with a compelling story, bringing the world of Elizabethan London vividly to life. I recommend it for both adults and children.
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on 10 December 2011
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! This is a great introduction to Shakespeare and would link perfectly into A Midsummer Night's Dream. I am looking to including it in our year 9 scheme of work alongside Midsummer Night as a comparative piece. Excellent.
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on 9 May 2013
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 much. it's not a perfect book, but I do recommend it for those who are trying to engage with Elizabethan England/Shakespeare.
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on 21 October 2015
Susan Cooper writes beautifully gripping fantasy, and 'King of Shadows' is no exception. Wherein: a young actor travels back in time, gets to work with Shakespeare, and save the day. It's the kind of story you'll wish you were part of. I adore this book!
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on 21 October 2008
This book has not matched or even come close to the success of her other books. That said it is still a very readable and enjoyable book. It starts off in modern times where Nat Field has caught the plague. But it's not him the real Nat Field has switched into Shakespeare's time. He goes there acting alongside Shakespeare doing a famous play. Why is he there? Well that's pretty much the whole storyline. There are a few twists towards the end but the rest of it is just as you'd expect. It's not as fun as books like the Dark is Rising and has not got as good a plot. The story gets is a little slow at times and I found the best bits were where she was writing about the plague. Overall it's OK to read if you like her, but if you want to enjoy her storytelling at its best read the Dark is Rising series.
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on 28 May 2006
"This is thy negligence. Still thou mistak'st,

Or else commit'st thy knaveries wilfully."

"Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook."

- Oberon and Puck, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Act III scene 3

"'...nought shall go ill.

The man shall have his mare again,

and all shall be well.'

"And these last three lines I said out to the audience, or rather to the empty theatre where the audience would be, and they jarred me suddenly out of my happy time, my acting time. 'All shall be well.' I knew as I said it that it was a lie, Shakespeare's lie, because I knew from my own life that all does not go well, but that terrible things happen to people and cannot be put right, by magic flower-juice or by anything else in this world."

- Nat Field, who plays Puck for the Company of Boys - and the Lord Chamberlain's Men

Nat, who narrates his own story as he remembers it, brings us into his life on the first day of serious rehearsal of the Company of Boys - twenty of the best young stage actors in the United States, brought together to perform two of Shakespeare's plays as they were intended to be performed, using boys whose voices hadn't yet broken for the women's roles. After a few weeks of rehearsal (first in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then in London), they are to perform JULIUS CAESAR and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM in the Globe, newly built in 1999 yet celebrating its 400th anniversary as a replica of the original theatre where the Lord Chamberlain's Men - Shakespeare's company - spent their most famous years.

Theatre is Nat's world - the place where, for a few precious hours at a time, he can be somebody else, somebody who doesn't have to remember his parents' deaths, or answer questions, or be sympathized with - he can be Puck for an enchanted while, or the Boy in HENRY V. He expects London to be even better, in a company where with few personal connections that will be playing in another country. (Not that he's unfriendly - working with Gil Warman as Oberon helps him understand Puck better, as well as being good for laughs when the two of them are working with Rachel the voice coach. Nat's accent being naturally close to Elizabethan English is one thing, but faking a southern accent to match him is not a pretty sight. I recommend Jim Dale's unabridged narration very highly - since Nat is narrating, he sticks with Nat's accent except when speaking in another persona, and does them all very well.)

But Nat's first day of rehearsal in the Globe itself takes him far beyond what he ever hoped for, as he wakes up the next day not in 1999, but 1599, having changed places and times with another Nathan Field, an actor from St. Paul's School on loan to the Lord Chamberlain's Men to play Puck in a command performance of the Dream, though the public will not know that the Queen herself has a whim to see the new Globe in secret.

This is a beautifully crafted story. Nat's situation is built up perfectly - his character's personal pain and how he copes with it, the culture shock he experiences constantly in 1599, and the theatre and its people, then and now. The book brings Shakespeare to life in more ways than one; the book can serve as an introduction to the Dream for someone who's never seen it performed, as living history of Shakespeare's time by showing London in concrete terms rather than dry statistics, and by introducing Nat to Shakespeare the person and the other members of his company, who first brought his plays to life.

Nat's problems are also well thought out. Apart from shock at being displaced in time, the culture shock stretches further than one might think, reaching even into the small details like not sleeping on a bed or having one's own cup and plate at table, as well as the more obvious lacks of plumbing and artificial light. Nat himself is a kid, not an historian; he can pass as well as he does only because his counterpart was a sheltered educated softie by the standards of the day, on loan to a commercial theatre where he wasn't known personally. What he *does* know about Shakespeare's time is more likely to get him in trouble than to help; how many people, for example, can remember which plays he'd already written by 1599? Or what the current political troubles at court were? (The reader might even want to follow this book with A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: 1599 by James Shapiro, because Nat of course doesn't learn *all* the reasons for everything that's going on.)

But there's one compensation that makes up for all this, when Nat - still suffering from the loss of his father three years before - meets a man who lost his son three years ago.

"'Greet Master Shakespeare, boy.'

It was as if he'd said, 'Say hello to God.'"
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on 20 February 2013
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.
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on 29 May 2015
A fascinating book, recommended to me by a friend. It is quite black in a way but would give great pleasure to those that love The Dream.
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on 28 February 2017
This is an incredible read that I enjoyed so much , meeting Shakespeare being my biggest dream. The feels at the end made my heart throb!
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