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Ruled Britannia [Kindle Edition]

Harry Turtledove
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.95
You Save: $2.04 (26%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Turtledove (American Empire, etc.) buckles a handsome Elizabethan swash with his latest fascinating what if: suppose the Spanish Armada had beaten the Virgin Queen's little navy and reimposed on England the fanatic Roman Catholicism of Bloody Mary Tudor and her ruthless husband, Philip II of Spain. For almost a decade, the English have chafed under Philip's daughter Isabella and her Austrian consort, as well as the Inquisition, enforced by arrogant dons, their hired-gun Irish gallowglasses (rumored to be cannibals) and English Catholic sympathizers. Good Queen Bess languishes in the Tower of London while her supporters plot rebellion-to be sparked by no less than a patriotic new play by Will Shakespeare, Turtledove's lovingly drawn hero, who's drawn willy-nilly into the conspiracy by Elizabeth's former minister, Lord Burghley. The author revels in complex turns of language and spouts brilliant adaptations of the real Shakespeare's immortal lines. Superbly realized historical figures include the "darkly handsome," doomed Kit Marlowe and the Machiavellian Robert Cecil. Equally engaging are such lesser characters as the "cunning woman" Cicely Sellis, who "thinks of England." Turtledove has woven an intricate and thoroughly engrossing portrait of an era, a theatrical tradition, a heroic band of English brothers and their sneering overlords. O, brave alternative world that has such people in't!
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Will Shakespeare, actor and author of popular plays, becomes embroiled in treason when English noblemen pressure him to write a play calculated to stir the people to rebellion. Meanwhile, Lope de Vega, a Don Juanish Spanish playwright, is under orders to sniff out treason and heresy, and he commands Will to write a play praising the Spanish monarch. What ensues is a suspenseful and fascinating tale of intrigue, loyalty and betrayal, and cultural conflict. Caught between two masters, Shakespeare can do nothing less than his best work for both-even though his lively imagination and inquiring intelligence constantly cause him personal and ethical challenges. The details of daily life and characters who reflect the cultural attitudes of a different time draw readers in. But more than that, the plot, people, and narrative devices would be comfortable in any of the Bard's plays: clowns and jesters, high and low comedy, a twin motif, and, perhaps most important, the dialogue-they all have a convincing Shakespearean ring. This complex tour de force brings his work and times to life, and readers who are carried along will feel, like the hero in the end, well rewarded and well satisfied.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 808 KB
  • Print Length: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (November 5, 2002)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OCXIBW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,260 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rule Turtledove! December 1, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Harry Turtledove's newest book is a straight alternative history; no fantasy, no science fiction. The turning point is a victorious Spanish Armada, whose superior forces overwhelmed the British and have returned England to Catholic rule. Elizabeth I is now a prisoner in the Tower of London, while King Phillip II's daughter Isabella and her husband are the Queen and King.
Nine years later, the book begins with a vivid description of the English Inquisition (no one expects...) and heretics paraded and then burned at the stake. The population has been whipsawed between Catholic and Protestant rule, and now the Catholics are back with a vengeance. William Shakespeare is one of Turtledove's viewpoint characters, and like most, he is willing to go along with whatever religion the rulers want, as long as he can continue his day-to-day living. If that means observing Lent a month earlier than the Protestants would have, then he'll eat fish where others can see him. Alas, events do not allow a peaceful existance for him.
Shakespeare is asked to help overthrow the Spanish-Catholic overlords by writing a play about Queen Boudicca and her revolt against the invading Romans. Meanwhile, the Spanish ask him to write a master work commerating the about-to-drop-dead-any-day-now King of Spain, Phillip II. And the other viewpoint character, the Spanish lieutenant Lope de Vega, is there to watch Shakespeare and ensure nothing treasonous is going on. And de Vega enjoys his job, in fact he writes plays in Spanish and loves talking shop. So how is Shakespeare ever going to rehearse Boudicca, assuming he can figure out which of his troupe is willing to do so without running to the Inquisition?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turtledove's Best November 21, 2002
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ten years after the successful invasion of the Spanish Armada overthrew Elizabeth, England has quietly simmered under the repression of the dons. All it needs is the right motivation to rise up. As King Phillip II lies on his death-bed, England's remaining loyalists decide now is the time to strike. But how to stir the people to rebellion? A play's the thing, and who better to write it but William Shakespeare of course.
It's not that easy, of course. Spain wants to make sure England stays loyal, and what better way to commemorate their king than with a play, written by William Shakespeare.
Poor Master William. Not made for intrigue, nor gifted with great physical courage, he finds himself in the burden of his nation's sovereignty on his shoulders. Worse, he is forced to contend with the attentions of Senior Lieutenant Lope de Vega, who is made for intrigue and is a formidible playwright of his own.
"Ruled Britannia" is the book that Harry Turtledove should be remembered for. Even more than "Guns of the South", even more than "Worldwar" or "Great War". Turtledove writes with a richness of setting and depth of character only hinted at in previous works. He imbues Shakespeare and de Vega with complexity and depth as both play unwitting games of cat and mouse, leading from back alley murder and conspiracy, through the threat of the Inquisition, plays, romance, swashbuckling action, onward to the inevitable question: which play will be performed?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges." November 19, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Groaning under Spanish rule for ten years, ever since England failed to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588, London citizens have endured the Inquisition, the continued imprisonment of Elizabeth in the Tower of London, the use of Irish barbarians as thugs and enforcers by the Spanish occupiers, and a constant sense of uncertainty born of religious and political turmoil. The pageantry and spectacle of an auto-da-fe, both awe-inspiring and terrifying, open this novel of alternate history, its horrors made real by the cry of a condemned man, begging for help from an acquaintance in the mob, William Shakespeare, who can do nothing to help, and whose own life is endangered by the man's pitiful appeals.

Shakespeare here is a hero at the height of his powers as an actor and playwright. Sharing one-third of a room in a boarding house, eating and writing by firelight in a pub, dealing with the egos of his acting company, and associating with people from all walks of society--from mysterious characters like Nick Skeres and the "witch" Cicely Sellis, to Francis Bacon and Lord Burghley (Sir William Cecil)--Shakespeare is the pivot around whom all the action revolves. In counterpoint to him is Lt. Lope de Vega, an unpublished Spanish playwright, sent to infiltrate Shakespeare's theater and its productions and unmask any traitors to Spanish rule. When Lord Burghley secretly hires Shakespeare to write a play called Boudicca, planned as a call to the populace to throw off their Spanish yoke and avenge themselves, Shakespeare finds himself in mortal danger--he has also been hired by the Spanish to write a play in honor of Philip II, the dying Spanish king, a play to be produced as soon as Philip dies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Theater as a Political Power August 22, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
For a writer to portray the life of another writer, one for whom daily living details are in short supply, is a difficult job. When it is not a work of biography, but rather an alternate history, and the writer being portrayed is Shakespeare, this act takes courage and more than a bit of chutzpah. Happily, Turtledove is (mostly) equal to this task.

Imagining a world where the Spanish Armada won, and England conquered and placed under the nominal rule of Queen Isabella, subsidiary to King Philip II of Spain, in many ways this is an intriguing look at the both the time and place - and its overlap with another SF writer's look at this time, Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, provides an interesting comparison. Instead of Stephenson's incredibly broad look at the times, people, and politics, Turtledove chooses to limit the scope of this book to the theater and its environs, with Shakespeare becoming the focal point of an attempted rebellion, as William Cecil commissions him to write a play designed to inflame the audience. Almost simultaneously, he is commissioned to write a play praising the life and deeds of King Philip, due to be performed upon Philip's death.

The tension in this book derives from these two opposing objectives, of how Shakespeare can write and get rehearsals performed of a subversive play while being closely watched by the Spanish for his progress on the King Philip play. Many of the characters presented are familiar ones: Kit Marlowe, Francis Bacon, Richard Burbage; and in general they are well fleshed out, and conform in the main to what is actually known about these people.

But more than plot or character, this book is driven by style and place. The dialogue is done in the Elizabethan English of the time, what Shakespeare basically wrote in.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Would reccommend
It's been a long time since I read this book, but I remember enjoying it, and thinking that the author did a much better job of portraying Shakespeare than other dramatic... Read more
Published 2 months ago by virginiacelt
4.0 out of 5 stars A very nice work of alternate history
The setting is awesome and the historical details quite accurate. A little too long to get to the main part of the plot.
Published 4 months ago by Jorge Almeida Ch
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Summoned Art
Instead of generalizing about the laboriously vacuous badness of this book, I'll give an example. It's William Shakespeare, the novel's main character, explaining the purpose of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jack11615
5.0 out of 5 stars Smashing good read
This is a smashing good read. In truth it has been some time since I did read this book in folio. After a few score pages you'll be talking like that as well. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Karl
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Alternate History that was Believable
I found this book full of engrossing ideas and an enjoyable romp with an alternate history. It always helps that Turtledove had training as a historian which means he creates the... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Paul of Oz
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise but...
This was an interesting premise, but a really lame book. I am essentially always a finisher, no matter how tough it is to get through, but Ruled Britannia was so boring that I... Read more
Published 20 months ago by LN
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for First Time Alternate History Readers
For those who have ever thought about reading at least one alternate history novel, Harry Turtledove's Ruled Britannia is the one you should try. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Matthew Ries
4.0 out of 5 stars To Be Free or Not To Be Free?
Finally finished Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove. In this alternative history, Spain has conquered and occupied England, turning it back into a Catholic country. Read more
Published 23 months ago by James A. Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous
Just couldn't get into this story. Fascinating historically but I wasn't pulled to finish it. It was required reading for a course.
Published 23 months ago by Suan Campbell Hughes
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
I have read several of Harry Turtledove's series. This book is a one off story that posits what life would have been like in sixteenth century England had the Spanish Armada... Read more
Published on May 11, 2012 by Kelvin
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More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

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