Book Review: Shakespeare's Rebel by C.C. Humphreys

The story opens with John Lawley, swordsman and ex-player,  awakening from a drunken stupor in  "the lowest tavern in Wapping". We soon learn what matters most to this man - his son, the mother of his son, the theatre,  his friends and his loyalty to the man he serves, "mad" Robert Deveraux, the Earl of Essex.

 All John Lawley wants is to make amends to his family and get back to what he loves doing - arranging sword fighting scenes for the theatre. To do this, he must avoid being drawn into the treasonous escapades of the Earl of Essex,  the clutches of Sir Robert Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I's feared minister and spy master, and alcohol.

One of John's friends is William Shakespeare, the playwright. Shakespeare is grieving the loss of his son, Hamnet, and  agonising over one of his greatest works,"The Tragedy of Hamlet".  While dealing with his own troubles, John must also try  to keep his friend and family safe. A wrong move in these dangerous times could have dire consequences.

This novel was my introduction to C.C. Humphreys and  I enjoyed every word . It has all the ingredients of a good read - romance, humour, action, intrigue, rivalry, tragedy - and a lovable character in John Lawley.

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