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Book Review: Masterplayer: Shakespeare and Elizabeth


Masterplayer: Shakespeare and Elizabeth by Mathew Bridle

Mathew Bridle is the self-published author of ten books, ranging from sci-fi / fantasy to historical fiction. His latest, Masterplayer, is described as a "spy novel" featuring Shakespeare and Elizabeth I. 

Toward the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign a failed coup attempt was led by the Earl of Sussex, and a handful of his peers. Into this historical coup plot Bridle imagines a what-if. What if Shakespeare were enlisted by the Queen's allies as a spy, as they anticipated the potential coup? The resulting story is full of atmosphere - Bridle excels at painting word pictures of the late 16th / early 17th century world his players inhabit. 

Unfortunately, the story line unfolds at a slow pace. Much of the book, while fun to read, is building up the characters through earlier events before the real action begins, which doesn't unfold until the final chapters. So, while an enjoyable immersion into a historical world, I did wonder at times where the story was going. 

Despite that, it is, as I said, a fun read, and more than once it sent me to the web curious to learn how much was fact and how much was fiction. For instance, historically it's clear that Shakespeare's company did perform for the queen, but it's not clear that the two of them had anything other than a passing acquaintance. Much of the rest of the story does agree with historical events. Even the jousting match sponsored by the Queen is historically possible, as jousting did continue in England through her reign.

Overall, Masterplayer is a fun read, and historical fiction which taught me a thing or two about English history. I give Masterplayer Three Stars ⭐⭐⭐.

NOTE: I was provided a free review copy by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Masterplayer links:

📙  Borrow this book: Find out if your library has the ebook or audiobook available.

📘 Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble