Bingo 20 (History/Schmistory)
This is actually a review of 9 books, sort of. Seven Shakespeares turned out to be a lot more interesting than I thought. The premise sounded simple: a re-imagined version of how William Shakespeare become the household name that he has been since about 1600.
I was pretty impressed by the degree of historical accuracy in the world, in that a lot of real Londoners involved in the theatre scene appear, as do a lot of real elements of Renaissance London beyond the theatres. One of the big themes that gets attention is how dangerous it was to be Catholic under the reign of Elizabeth 1. Some of the torture scenes of priests are pretty graphic.
The story really starts when Will is a child and his father’s household and ambitions, as well as some view of Will’s best friend (whose name escapes me- I had to return the books before I got to this review). Their early education is good, but Will just is not that interested until he really connects with the teacher, but then the teacher has to leave the school. Eventually, Will marries Anne Hathaway (wow does she get made to look bad here; she’s really awful), but that makes it easier for him and his friend to run off to seek their dreams in London. Along the way to breaking into the world of theatre, no small task by the way, several other key characters get added to the group: a Chinese immigrant with supernatural powers who turns out to be great with poetry, a priest who is secretly Catholic (and as such has a classical education to contribute to the stories and style), a struggling young actor, a kid who knows stage-craft but can’t act, and his abused mother who happens to be a gifted musician. Add the support of Will’s best pal who is a talented merchant and keeps the finances going, and you have a total of seven people (unless I’ve forgotten someone, then take out the merchant) who together write the plays with Will’s name on them.
The first 9 volumes of the graphic novel series show Will finding some sponsorship and getting his first few plays out. He’s just starting to hit the big-time when he gets involved with a theatre challenge with a rival group. Whoever makes the most money with their plays wins, and Will believes that Macbeth will be the key to his big win.
I haven’t read volume 10 yet, but I hope to soon. The problem is that this seems to be pretty exclusive to Amazon Kindle, and I just don’t wanna. I may have to break down, but we’ll see. I hope they introduce Edward DeVere at some point though, because that seems almost a prerequisite if you’re going to get into some of the conspiracy theories about who might have actually written Shakespeare’s plays.