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Tamburlaine Must Die

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  542 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
London, 1593. A city on edge. Under threat from plague and war, strangers are unwelcome, suspicion is wholesale, severed heads grin from the spikes on Tower Bridge. Playwright, poet, and spy Christopher Marlowe walks the city's mean streets with just three days to find the murderous Tamburlaine, a killer escaped from the pages of his most violent play. Tamburlaine Must Die ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published 2005 by Canongate (first published January 1st 2004)
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I'm not at all sure what I think of this one. It was recommended to me as part of a challenge as probably not being my usual thing, but it's not too far off, really. I mean, I've got Bruce Holsinger's A Burnable Book on the go, and that involves Chaucer and Gower... Anyway, I think I might have appreciated this more if I could remember more about Kit Marlowe's death. Pretty much all I could remember was the line from Shakespeare, "a great reckoning in a little room", thought to refer to Marlowe' ...more
Dec 22, 2010 Nicola rated it really liked it
In Tamburlaine Must Die, Louise Welsh brings to life a noisy, dirty, chaotic Elizabethan London. In her reimagining of Christopher Marlowe’s last days, he becomes a noir-ish detective, forced to investigate who is setting him up to hang for heresy.

Welsh’s writing is beautiful without being distractingly poetic, and she evokes the language of day without making her text dense or unreadable. The central storyline is a little too conspiracy-theory-esque for my taste, but the characters are well-dr
May 15, 2013 Hpstrangelove rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m
Although this is a small book (150 pages), I found it fascinating. I know nothing of Christopher Marlowe so all the information was new to me. Others might find the story boring, but it's prompted me to read more about and by Marlowe.
Mar 07, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
Playwright, poet, and spy Christopher Marlowe is a man who doesn't much care about the consequences of anything that he does. He's dissolute, reckless and playing a dangerous game. London is a grimy, insular, frightened place – with the plague and war threatening, strangers are treated with great suspicion and the shadowy Privy Council run by Ministers who "cared enough for high office to profit from death".

The story begins in May 1593 when Marlowe is summoned from the home of his patron to appe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate O'Hanlon
My consumption of fictional accounts of the exciting life of Christopher Marlow (or Marly or Morley or Marle as every writer must point out again and again) continues. Somewhat unsuccessfully this time.

This is dreadful. Elizabethan and contemporary turns of phrase rub up awkwardly against one another. You don't have to write like an actual Elizabethan to make the prose feel authentic, but there is a way to blend Elizabethan language and syntax with something a modern reader won't be too alienate
Dec 28, 2010 Simeonberesford rated it liked it
Shelves: book, club, novella
Well that's another book read. An odd sort of mix, I have read I think better attempts at elizabethan english. Why? I found myself wondering, use the archaic spelling skry, but say that Walshingham slept with Marlow rather than lay with him.There are always inconsistancies in these things though, and the flouridity of the style seemed most suitable.[return][return]I have never read any Marlow. Though occasional paraphrases would bring quotes to mind "And this is Hell nor am I out of it" for exam ...more
Sep 27, 2013 Maya rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
E. Chainey (Bookowski)
Elizabeth İngilteresi. Veba ve savaş kasıp kavuruyor. Christopher Marlowe -tanritanimaz büyük oyun şairi - son günlerini yaşıyor; zira Dr. Faustus ile sınırları aştı, Timurlenk adlı eseri inancsizligini cesurca göstermenin sınırlarını zorluyor. Birileri onun ölmesini istiyor. Ama kim?
Google'a Christopher Marlowe yazarsanız ölümündeki sır perdesinin hâlâ aralanamadigini görürsünüz. Daha önce dizelerini hiç okumamıştim ama şimdi çok merak ediyorum. Bu novella -kısa öykü- Louise Welsh'in başarılı
This short novel was written as a fictional account by Marlowe of what is to prove his final three days of life. Welsh has attempted to capture the essence of Elizabethan English rather than reproduce it and I felt that she had done an excellent job of this as well as conveying a sense of Marlowe's intellectual pride and poetic nature. She has speculated on the events that led to his death in Deptford drawing on primary and secondary sources, though given that it is a first person account she av ...more
Feb 01, 2015 Denise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, read-2015
The murder of Elizabethan playwright and spy Christopher Marlowe is one of those true historical mysteries about which we'll most likely never know the full truth. In this atmospheric and gripping novella, Welsh reimagines Marlowe's final days as recorded in his own hand, the night before his death. The rich, densely woven narrative, skillfull writing and expertly realized setting easily kept me glued to the page all the way through.
Davida Chazan
One of my all-time favorite books, with a fascinating subject and concise, atmospheric prose that is almost unparalleled. Read my revised review here.
Gumble's Yard
Jan 15, 2017 Gumble's Yard rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
A very poorly written novella set in the last days of Christopher Marlowe; he is involved in various privy council faction plots and in particular betrayed by his lead actor and ex-lover in a plot against Raleigh and is then offered a deal by Dee that if he sacrifices himself then he and Raleigh will ensure his literary immortality.
May 05, 2017 Bialey rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy it as much as I did 'Naming the bones' but nevertheless a good read and historically informative.
Good writing but strangely underwhelming. ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2012 George rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
Δυο βιβλία της Γουέλς έχουν μεταφραστεί στα ελληνικά, αυτό και το Τελευταίο Καρέ, και τα δυο βιβλία τα βρήκα στο φετινό παζάρι βιβλίου μόνο με 3 και 4 ευρώ αντίστοιχα. Καλή αγορά!

Λοιπόν, διάλεξα τον Ταμερλάνο για πρώτη επαφή με αυτήν την συγγραφέα, μιας και ήταν μικρό και θα διαβαζόταν πολύ γρήγορα, σίγουρα έμεινα ευχαριστημένος, αλλά χωρίς να νιώθω ότι διάβασα κάτι το τρομερό ή το διαφορετικό.

Δεν μπορώ να πω ότι έχω και πολλές γνώσεις για τον Κρίστοφερ Μάρλοου και το έργο του (περισσότερα ξέρ
Jack Deighton
Feb 05, 2017 Jack Deighton rated it really liked it
This novella is certainly a departure from the genre and style of Welsh’s first book, her novel The Cutting Room, a contemporary (more or less) crime tale set in Glasgow. The time here is London in 1593 and we are reading Christopher Marlowe’s account of his past few days, written in case he does not survive the morrow. Drawn before the Privy Council to answer charges of blasphemy and atheism (someone has been disseminating leaflets of this nature as written by “Tamburlaine” and naturally this i ...more
Venetia Green
Oct 15, 2015 Venetia Green rated it liked it
In some parts, this is an enthralling evocation of the seedier side of Elizabethan London, featuring an intriguingly flawed central character, the doomed playwright Christopher Marlowe. However, the novella left me unsatisfied - perhaps for the simple reason that, being a novella, it was too short to more convincingly flesh out the plot or provide other possible culprits.
My feeling of dissatisfaction began upon reading the very first page. Welsh frames the story through the rather tired literary
Aug 15, 2016 Petra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Het mysterie van Marlowe is een geschrift vanuit het oogpunt van Marlowe wat hij opschrijft als hij bang is dat het laatste uur voor hem heeft geslagen. In dit boekje, wat leest als een hele lange brief, beschrijft hij de gebeurtenissen die tot een 'arrestatie' van de privy council leiden, maar het allerbelangrijkste hij opent de zoektocht naar wie hem verlinkt of verraden heeft. Uiteindelijk is dit een ander complottheorie van de schrijfster over het einde van het leven van Marlowe.

Het verhaal
Not much is really known about the circumstances that surround the death of Christopher Marlowe. We know how he died and who he was with at the time, but was it a drunken brawl that ended tragically, was it murder, plotted and planned? Nothing in the history books is conclusive.

Louise Welsh's novella (it's not really long enough to be a fully fledged novel) is based on the last few days of his life and tries to put a voice to him and give background to what happened. It 'kind of works'. You do g
N.J. Ramsden
Jan 18, 2014 N.J. Ramsden rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Airfix Kit

The story lacks interest, the writing has awkward pace; there is precious little flair on these pages. It feels as though Welsh has rushed this novella, throwing things into the pot that don't really go. The language is one of the major problems, it being rather less than authentic. If one is going to write Marlowe, one must at least relish in it. Here we get too much of the modern with an occasional, gestural flourish. It's a bit like watching Robin Hood on TV - cheap sets, earnest co
Aug 24, 2011 Miguel rated it it was amazing
In this exciting and short novel, Louise Welsh recounts us the last days of poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe, as if written by the author's own hand. The language is vivid and strong, the style is swift and fast, the atmosphere is dark, oppressive and dangerous. The novel elaborates on the doubts surrounding Marlowe's death, accentuating the theory that it was the result of political and religious intrigue, more than the 'official' version of a pub quarrel.
Marlowe comes out of the novel e
Feb 07, 2015 Valerie rated it it was ok
I've been on a bit of a Marlowe kick, and I read this novel while taking a break from another novel about Christopher Marlowe's life, "A Dead Man at Deptford" by Anthony Burgess--which is a very poetic and philosophical book, but is written in a rather dense-style that wears me out quickly. Compared to the Burgess novel, "Tamburlaine Must Die" is a quick and easy read, but that is about the only compliment I can give it. This book is full of exposition dumps, clumsy phrasing and jarringly-inappr ...more
Shaunesay Eslanai
Feb 18, 2009 Shaunesay Eslanai rated it liked it
Christopher Marlowe's death is a mystery that still inspires people to speculate. This short work of fiction is an interesting piece doing the same. I enjoyed the writing style, but wish there had been a bit more story on both ends. A good and fast read that gives a quick taste if you're in the mood for historical fiction, centered solely on Marlowe and what his last days might have been like, with no Shakespeare in sight. It has peaked my interest in learning more about Marlowe's life and works ...more
Mar 24, 2012 Wwmrsweasleydo rated it liked it
This was disappointingly slight. The fascinating character of Marlowe is well-drawn, and Elizabethan London rendered vividly, but (surprisingly from this author) the plot wasn't up to much.

It was supposed to be a thriller, apparently, but there were no clues, no chases or escapes, and no real crime. The politics wasn't convoluted at all. The structure wasn't tight. When the murders came, they were out of nowhere, their motivation never explained.

This book had great potential which was never re
May 23, 2014 Nicole rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
Didn't finish. Picked it up without even reading the blurb because I so enjoyed the last Louise Welsh book that I read, but the subject matter is so completely unknown to me and generally it was pretty boring. The entire novella is only about 150 pages long and I couldn't even be bothered going past halfway.

From what I understand this is something that she was asked to write? So I'm hoping it's an anomaly in her body of work.
A bold and personal portrayal of playwright Kit Marlowe, which I enjoyed despite finding it a little more clever than emotionally powerful. The author gives the reader a sense of walking down the streets of Shakespeare's London with Kit, with the lightness of a personal journal but the confidence of historian.
I see this one gets given quite a large amount of stars by most people. Maybe the Dutch translation just sucks, but I doubt that's it. I didn't think there was anything wrong with the wording or sentences. I just really did not enjoy the story at all. Glad it was so short and cheap (I think I paid 30 cents.)
Sep 27, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sir, walter, raleigh
I usually don't like creative-historical fiction, but this is well crafted. This book is succinct - the author is able to transport the reader back in time without tedious passages meant to set the scene by establishing sensory details. Sensory details are embedded within the subtext, which is why this book succeeds.
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After studying history at Glasgow University, Louise Welsh established a second-hand bookshop, where she worked for many years. Her first novel, The Cutting Room, won several awards, including the 2002 Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey Memorial Dagger, and was jointly awarded the 2002 Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Louise was granted a Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial ...more
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