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Iago: A Novel Hardcover – January 3, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It’s early sixteenth-century Venice, and one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing scoundrels has just escaped from a Cyprus prison. He’s been accused of several murders, including those of the island’s governor (the Moor) and his wife, Desdemona. Sound familiar? Readers of Snodin’s debut revisit the story of Othello to explore the motivations of its charming but evil mystery man. In Snodin’s world, Iago embarks on a convoluted journey to evade the law, joined by a cast of characters representing a slice of the Venetian social pie, including young Gentile Stornello, heir to a well-known local family; his tutor, Baldassare; and Franceschina, a young servant girl whom Gentile loves from afar. On their trail is Annipale Malipiero, chief inquisitor of Venice, known locally for his heinous torture methods, but who is far more interested in what makes Iago tick. As the novel unfolds, readers are swept up into a fast-paced, dark, yet humorous adventure. Iago is a complex, detailed immersion into Renaissance Venetian life and a thoughtfully imagined speculation on the fate of one of literature’s most famous desperados. --Carol Gladstein


“[A] familiar coming-of-age story with a touch of Elizabethan finery. . . . A likable page-turner about love, war and conspiracy in the early 16th century.” – Kirkus
“Snodin gives readers a closeup of an unforgettable villain: his charm, his strength, his capacity for brutality and manipulation . . . . while simultaneously taking readers on a dark, fast-paced adventure with satisfying moments of humor and romance.” – Publishers Weekly
“Readers won’t need a thorough knowledge of Shakespere’s Othello to enjoy this vivid. . . novel, which is filled with all the drama, intrigue, and violence of Renaissance Italy—and even a little romance on the side.” – Library Journal
“richly cinematic” – AARP
“I thoroughly enjoyed being swept up in the setting; I swam with the characters in the muck of the Venetian canals and ran for shelter in the Paduan monastery where they briefly hid. . . for pure entertainment, Iago hit its mark.” – The Washington Independent Review of Books
“Finely drawn characters inhabit this riveting novel. . . . a many layered story righ in its unfolding. . . Snodin weaves a masterful tale of treachery as various truths and sedition are uncovered in a compelling march to the conclusion.” – About.com

“Iago is back and more deadly than ever. . . . The novel pulls us through one just-missed-him confrontation after another, leaving a slick trail of blood, sleeping throats cut and chests pierced. . . . [Snodin drops] witty allusions as freely as Puck sprinkles love potion around the forest. And the large cast of characters is wonderfully well drawn. . .” – The Washington Post




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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1ST edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805093702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805093704
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,627,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The very premise of this novel made me jump at it when offered on Amazon Vine. The reading, however, grew more and more disappointing as each page turned. Finally, I ended up slogging through in order to write the requisite review. I so wanted to love this book. Heaving a great sigh as I continue...
Pros: Iago. The name conjures up all that is 16th Century literature, European and Mediterranean coasts cloaked in the mists of violence, predatory religious zealots, mercenaries and ribald courtiers. The novel holds plenty of these. The balloon of expectation rose high upon reading the back matter, no doubt written by the book-manager at Snodin's publisher. It rose even higher when I began and found that the author has deftly slipped from one present-tense point of view for one character into another omniscient point of view for all others. Love IT! So seamlessly done anyone could ogle the scene changes and p.o.v. shifts with an eye to learning Snodin's skill.
There is so much good about this book, from its opening idea to the creation of interesting, varied, and colorful characters. The setting is pure gold with a wealth of costume and period detail. The movement is good, and the pace engaging. But. Everything comes to a screeching halt over the one thing that should make this novel rise from the shelves and fly to great heights.

Cons: The whole concept of the novel is completely deflated by utter bastardization of what should be lyrically florid language. Going back to Writing 101 - Please do not have people grunt, laugh, choke, snort, or ejaculate words. Throughout IAGO, certain characters consistently grunt, choke, and gasp dialog.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The first few pages of David Snodin's "Iago" held the promise that this would be an intriguing novel dealing with familial rivalries, between the Stornello's and the Malipiero's, in sixteenth century Venice as related to Shakespeare's villain, Iago. The initial chapters were written in a manner that was reminiscent of classic literature. Interesting characters and situations were introduced; they seemed to be setting the stage for a fascinating novel. I had high hopes this would be a book I would want to read without stopping.

However, my initial enthusiasm with the book changed to boredom as I continued to slog through the text. The primary narrative is provided by Gentile Stornello, a youth of fifteen who is caught up in events over which he has little control. Had this been a coming-of-age novel, Gentile's story would have carried the story quite nicely. Titled "Iago" and purportedly dealing with Shakespeare's character, the use of Gentile as narrator and the emphasis on his story seemed misplaced. Rather than focusing on Iago, Snodin meandered through incidents in which Iago was present, but in which he was not primary actor. I found myself looking for reasons to stop reading - that is something that is not my typical reaction to a book I have chosen.

"Iago" could have been a fine novel had it dealt more closely with the title character and his life. However, with the exception of the title and inserting the character of Iago into scenes, almost as an afterthought, this novel could easily have been called "Gentile Stornello." Although intelligently written, this is an average novel and deserves only three stars; it lacks the necessary characteristics that pull the reader into the story and make a novel worthy of five stars.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Of all Shakespeare's villains, Iago is the most mysterious, for his motives are not clearly defined in "Othello." When I saw this book title, I imagined a new vision of an old villain.

I got a vision of 16th century Venice, Padua, and Mantua. Author David Snodin gets top marks for historical facts and setting.

The book begins with a scene that seems to be the opening of "Romeo and Juliet." Various quotations from "Hamlet," "Macbeth," and "Othello" are thrown in, perhaps to make the dialogue more authentic although Snodin does a good job with the Italian that in context can be deciphered.

What is missing for 178 pages, all of Part 1, is the character, Iago. He has gone missing from Cyprus after mysterious deaths there of the Moor, Desdemona, and supposedly, Iago's wife. 178 pages wax and wane with a variety of fights, tortures, academic speeches, and kitchen delights. There are only rumors of the infamous Iago.

Finally, in Part II, we meet Iago. But we meet him through Gentile Stronello, age 15. Gentile is naive, foolish, lovelorn, easily swayed. Iago is brutish, but rather well-spoken. For the next 300 pages they dash about Italy, along with the beautiful Franceschina, seeking escape, revenge, and in Gentile's case, a chance at love. Iago focuses on killing, maligning, and flirting.

The last chapter succeeds where the others failed in bringing the strands of the story to conclusion. Had the book carried another title, I might not have chosen it, and yet it would then perhaps have been truer to its cause. As is, I would call "Iago," much ado about nothing.

The author carries strong credentials in filming Shakespeare's works for the BBC. This is his first novel.
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