Has it been awhile since your last swashbuckling adventure? Then avast ye readers and you’ll be forewarned. I’m telling you about a fun, fast-paced, sword-wielding tale of a daredevil rogue on a thrilling, romantic adventure. The story is set in 16th century England, during Shakespearean times, without the Shakespearean language, and overseen by the Sovereign Queen Elizabeth.
It seems like fate has it in for our unwilling hero, John Lawley. Or could it be one of his three weaknesses: whiskey, women or his friend Mad Robbie Devereux that lures John into so much trouble and danger? But he’s someone who can give danger a run for the money. John is England’s finest swordsman and fight choreographer at the new Globe Theater. Yes, that’s how he knows William Shakespeare, who is struggling to finish his play The Tragedy of Hamlet, an endeavor that could destroy him.
Danger is around the corner. The Queen has some dirty work that needs to be done and she’s sure that John Lawley is the man for it. John wants to win back his spirited and beloved Tess, and also guide his impressionable son Ned, but the Queen has other priorities. After all, there’s a bit of a mystery to be solved, and resolved.
The author, Chris Humphreys, brings this historical, revolutionary time vividly to life. He utilizes his background as an actor and playwright, and in fight choreography, to attain a realism in his novel. As you read the sword fights, you’ll have a description that conjures a picture of the characters’ struggle beyond words. Acting runs in his family, and like his four grandparents and his father, Chris Humphreys is an actor. He has appeared in plays all over the world. I think his acting background has uncovered in him a gift for creating memorable and deep characters.
The hero struggles to make good in his complicated relationships with his associates, his Queen, his friends, his son, and his beloved. Obstacles he encounters are as hard fought as the combat at the point of his sword. And the reader gets to listen in on John Lawley’s reflections on life’s relationships with the Bard, who’s battling ghosts of his own. His struggles are much like those of his audience. “They needed release. And so the skillful playwright gave it to them. Gave them a fight.”
Thereby hangs a tale . . .
— By Wendy Kendall
Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.