Pub date: October 6, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Imprint: Sourcebooks Landmark
To be (or not to be) the man to save England
England’s finest swordsman and fight choreographer at the magnificent new Globe Theatre has hit rock bottom. John Lawley just wants to win back his beloved, become a decent father to his son, and help his friend William Shakespeare finish The Tragedy of Hamlet, the play that threatens to destroy him.
But all is not fair in love and war. Dogged by his three devils—whiskey, women, and Mad Robbie Deveraux—John is dragged by Queen Elizabeth herself into a dangerous game of politics, conspiracy, and rebellion. Will the hapless swordsman figure out how to save England before it’s too late?
Brimming with vivid periodic detail, Shakespearean drama, and irresistible wit, Shakespeare’s Rebel is a thrilling romp through the romantic, revolutionary times of Elizabethan England that will delight historical fiction fans and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike.
John peered at the river traffic. Most of the boats were laden, passengers headed to the delights of Southwark or returning sated from them. But some boatmen were just commencing, and others sought easier fares than in the turmoil at the Stairs. He spotted one, placed finger and thumb to his mouth, whistled loud. The man looked up from his oars and both he and Ned waved frantically. They watched the bow put about, the vessel driven swiftly toward them. On the thrust-out jetty, a ladder went into the water and Ned sprinted to it—just as boots thudded onto the wooden platform behind them.
John turned back. Tomkins was bent holding on to his knees, breathing hard. The youth was upright, head tilted back with his now besmirched tangerine scarf raised to staunch the blood flowing from the nose. Only the third fellow was unwinded or unbloodied, and he now drew his dagger to pair with his rapier.
John heard the crunch of wood on wood as the wherry slid against the stanchions. “Board, Ned,” he hissed, drawing too. There was no time to untie his buckler. It would be two weapons to one—to six when the others recovered. He cut air as he took a high guard, the sound causing his drawn assailant to pause. Yet behind him, Tomkins had got his breath back enough to draw in his turn, while the bleeding youth dropped his scarf, let his blood flow, and drew as well. “Stay back, you curs,” he bellowed, hoping a touch of bravado and another slash would delay them. When he heard Ned’s cry, “I am aboard,” he swished again, turned and ran the few steps to the dock edge, saw the wherry at the ladder, its owner regarding the scene above him with alarm. “Cast off!” John yelled, just as he heard the approach of boots, swept around, sword cutting at eye level. All three men were before him.
“Diavolo! ” he cried, jabbing his point hard at the meeting of steel, splitting dagger and sword point, causing them to ring. “Did I not bid you bide? Come then, braggart, and swallow your death.” He lunged, knocking the blades aside with a great sweep. On their ring, he ran for the ladder, knowing it for a sorry chance with men on his heel. He saw the boat a yard out, oars in the water, felt the rapier’s point driven at his back, noted the one other option that had been in his head like a trace of yesterday’s ale: the crane and its dangling ropes…and took it in a leap, clearing the dock side, eluding the thrust, swinging out beyond more of them. In the fraction of a moment of stillness at swing’s end, he looked—to the dock and the three men upon it; to the boat. If he fell into it, he’d sink it and his son with it. There was but one other choice. Sighing, he let go.
The Thames was as cold as he expected it to be—skin-puckering, bollock-shriveling, head-pounding freezing. Sinking as far as his velocity took him, he kicked up, broke the surface with a gasp that fueled his cry of “Christ’s balls! Get me out!”
About the Author:
Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer and novelist. He has written nine historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; Vlad – The Last Confession, the epic novel of the real Dracula; and A Place Called Armageddon. His latest YA novel is The Hunt of the Unicorn. His work has been translated into thirteen languages. Find out more about him on his website: http://cchumphreys.com.
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