Book Report: Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove (2002)

I bought this book from the discount rack on the Barnes and Noble in New York at the end of September, and I read it in October, but I have yet to post a report on it as we gave it to my mother-in-law as a gift for Christmas. But here it is, gentle reader: my first foray into Turtledove’s alternate history, as best I can remember it.

The premise of the book: The Spanish Armada succeeded, and King Philip deposes Queen Elizabeth and locks her in the tower of London. A London-based playwright, William Shakespeare, becomes intangled in a plot to overthrow the Spanish and must compose a play designed to fire up the British at the same time as he’s commissioned to write an elegaic play for Philip.

The book’s language and research undoubtedly capture a lot of the time period; the English is modern, but the sentence construction tips its hat to the middle English of Shakespeare’s day. Unfortunately, the book slips into a bit of repetition that made me impatient for it to get on with the story. Also, as I was not a student of the detailed history of the era, some of the subtleties are lost on me.

Still, it’s an interesting question and perhaps one of Turtledove’s lesser efforts–after all, the blogosphere raves about his other work. I won’t totally pan it since I did give it as a gift (perhaps a passive-aggressive response for Deliver Us From Evil). However, if you’re speed-reading in an effort to make the Fifty Book Challenge, this book presents a speed bump.

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