Part two of a trilogy, this novel looks at the life of a struggling young poet in Elizabethan England by the name of William Shakespeare.
Will is having a very hard time making it as a poet in London. He is not just a "struggling" poet, he is, literally, a starving poet. Will makes the acquaintance of Christopher Marlowe, the current favorite poet of Elizabeth I. Christopher has attracted the attention of the authorities, a sure route to a short life span. Back in his university days, evidently he was not diligent enough in reporting a classmate who made an unpleasant remark about the monarchy. Therefore, he has to be a sympathizer. Facing lots of torture on the rack, Christopher spins a tale about this huge conspiracy he has uncovered. He has to give the authorities somebody, so he plans on implicating Shakespeare. There is no conspiracy, and even if there was, Shakespeare is the last person who would be involved in it.
Both men received their poetry gifts through exposure to the world of faerie. An elf named Sylvanus has "gone bad" and is heading to London to create havoc. The King of faerie, Quicksilver, has no choice but to go after him. He changes into his alter ego, a beautiful woman named Silver, with whom Shakespeare has already cheated on his wife (she is back home in Stratford). Meantime, back in faerie, it is as if all of the magical energy is disappearing; elves and fairies are dying by the hundreds. Ariel, the Queen of Faerie, has no choice but to go to London and look for her husband. Also, Sylvanus takes over Marlowe’s body; at night, he becomes a sort of humanoid beast who likes to disembowel people. Does Shakespeare stay out of the hands of the authorities? Does faerie get all of its magical energy removed?
This is an interesting speculation about the life of William Shakespeare before he became a Famous Person. Of course, Shakespeare fans will love it, and so will fantasy fans. It’s worth reading.
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