Fools and Mortals

  • by Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by Thomas Judd
  • 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A dramatic new departure for international best-selling author Bernard Cornwell, Fools and Mortals takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.
Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry - and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory - propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.
Showcasing his renowned storyteller's skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are onstage in the playhouses as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.

More

What the Critics Say

"Like Game of Thrones, but real." (The Observer)
"Blood, divided loyalties and thundering battles." (The Times)
"Strong narrative, vigorous action and striking characterisation, Cornwell remains king of the territory he has staked out as his own." (The Sunday Times)

More

See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not quite in love with this Shakespeare

Bernard Cornwell is pretty much at the pinnacle of my personal list of military history authors. His Sharpe, Starbuck Chronicles and Lost Kingdom series have been great sources of entertainment for me. This is a massive departure though and was possibly always going to happen given Cornwell's love of theatre and Shakespeare in particular.

Unlike some other recent examples of my favourite authors heading off on a tangent I genuinely enjoyed this. The viewpoint that Cornwell chooses is Richard who is William Shakespeare's younger, better looking but rather less fortunate brother. It's through his needy and almost desperate need to succeed as a player that Cornwell portrays the precarious nature of the life of a young player in Elizabethan England.

There is much detail about the theatre and its workings with the first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream forming the core of the plot. Interwoven with this are a love story, a tale of rival actors including one Will Kemp and a plot of sabotage by a rival company to complete the drama.

So, I enjoyed it but I wouldn't give it absolutely top billing. The period has been very heavily covered and those who enjoy this style of book will likely not find too much that's new or better here. There's plenty of charm but it lacks a real x factor with a plot that's just a bit too mild mannered and predictable despite the odd snippet of violence. At times it felt slightly flat to me but it does gain momentum through the second half.

So, definitely a worthy effort but while he masterfully strides the battlefields of history Cornwell has a distance to go before he can claim to lord it over Elizabethan society.
Read full review

- Simon

Refreshingly different!

Loved this from Cornwell. Such a brave shift from the conventional battlefield to the theatrical one! Such characters and characterisation from the narrator really give life to the world of the Elizabethan theatre. Absolute brilliance!
Read full review

- annette apostolakis

Book Details

  • Release Date: 19-10-2017
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited