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I, Iago

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  885 ratings  ·  160 reviews
“Nicole Galland is exceptionally well versed in the fine nuances of storytelling.”
St. Petersburg Times

“Galland has an exceptional gift.”
—Neal Stephenson

The critically acclaimed author of The Fool's Tale, Nicole Galland now approaches William Shakespeare's classic drama of jealousy, betrayal, and murder from the opposite side. I, Iago is an ingenious, brilliantly crafted n
Paperback, 370 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* It isn't written in shakepearean itself but Galland's writing can be pretty difficult to digest at times... I love Iago and I found this book really t…moreIt isn't written in shakepearean itself but Galland's writing can be pretty difficult to digest at times... I love Iago and I found this book really tough to get through. (less)

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Audra (Unabridged Chick)
It's pretty ballsy to take one of Shakespeare's most famous characters and write a novel about him from his viewpoint, and there are tons of opportunities to make a horrible misstep. However, Nicole Galland's novel about Iago is awesome. It's straight up a great read: a meaty historical that is rich with detail but doesn't drown the reader, thick with evocative characters and exotic locales, dramatic plot and wonderful writing. Being unfamiliar with Othello isn't a problem, as Galland's story is ...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
He would leave this mortal coil understood by nobody but me. Is that not a kind of love?

Maybe more of a 1.5 girl, idk

I, Iago is a half prequel, half retelling of Othello told from Iago's point of view. The first 2/3 of this book are Iago's backstory and the events leading up to him meeting Emilia and Othello, and then later Desdemona and Cassio. The last third is the events of the play Othello, but from Iago's point of view.

The first 2/3 wasn't awful but wasn't great. The events moved slowl
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I, Iago is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

It’s a book I’ve been waiting for my whole life - one that takes the blame off a villain who is very nearly a scapegoat, and spreads that blame evenly among the other characters. I mean, honestly - were Romeo and Juliet not being just the least bit spoiled and immature? They had to have each other, and if they couldn’t have each other, then they didn’t want to live anymore? Apparently a lot of people call this “romance”; in my house that’s called
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Iago tops any list of Shakespeare's most evil characters, hands down. He isn't driven by a code of business like Shylock or ambitions for her husband like Lady Macbeth. Rather, based on the flimsiest imagined grievances (passed over for promotion; suspects his wife is sleeping with his boss), he ruins the marriage, careers, and lives of multiple innocent people, even killing his wife himself.

But wait - why is Iago the villain and Othello a (tragic) hero? Othello kills his wife too, just because
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

WARNING: I feel a bloody mess coming on.....

I had an internal debate about the star rating, already, this does not bode well for a review.

How do you rate a "re-telling" on it's own merit? How?!

All I can think about is how this is a rework, POV reassignment of a Classic... and why did Galland tell me this?! I could blissful have enjoyed this book, drawn my own parallels, deduced as much then thought nothing of it! Alas, Galland kept all the title names the same and in doing such; both rode on t
Jason Golomb
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
"I knew to the depths of my soul that nothing I did was errant, that in the greater sense, I acted out of righteousness, however vengeful and indirect it seemed."

In Nicole Galland’s wonderful, “I, Iago”, Iago ponders the intricate web of deceit, defamation and lies he weaves that will culminate in an inevitable calamity of heartache, pain and bloodshed.

The reader, of course, knows what’s coming. William Shakespeare’s “Othello” is well known in its original form, but has also been adapted for m
Kelly Herself
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am a huge, huge fan of the Classics Retold genre. If this genre has an actual name, I don't know what it is. Classics Retold is just what I call them. I was first introduced to this genre in college. Jane Eyre is one of my all time favorite books. I've read it so many times, I've lost count. In college, I was taking a literature class where we were slated to read Jane Eyre followed by a book entitled Wide Sargasso Sea. I had never heard of the second book, but I soon found out that Wide Sargas ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This one is definitely one of the best novels I've read this year. If anyone had told me I would stoop to reading a re-hashing of Othello, I would've laughed at their face. But I did, and it was fantastic. Galland writes beautifully and confidently, never trying to "improve" on Shakespeare, but giving more "meat" and facets to the characters, giving them a stronger and richer background and psychological motives, filling in gaps in their stories and making the whole thing come alive with colors, ...more
Jenn Ravey
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
They called me “honest Iago” from an early age, but in Venice, this is not a compliment. It is rebuke. One does not prosper by honesty.

Othello doesn’t end well. If you are at all familiar with Shakespeare’s tragedies, you know as much. Othello is a tale of jealousy and ambition, love and passion, deception and manipulation. However, one of the most disturbing aspects of the play is Iago. Good, honest Iago. Othello’s right hand man who, when passed over for lieutenancy, determines to ruin the li
Kristen Beverly
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I, Iago, by author of The Fool’s Tale Nicole Galland, is the retelling of Othello, by William Shakespeare (whose birthday is being celebrated around the world today), from the point of view of Iago.

Iago has long been known as one of literature’s greatest villains – he even earned a spot on our the bracket for our Tournament of Villains earlier this year. Galland does her best to make the reader sympathetic to Iago. She tries to make the reader understand that there’s a reason Iago acted the way
Daniel E. Choi
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is written by a woman, and it really shows.
Not a bad thing; it just is.
The time devoted to Emelia's wit, beauty, and few yet captivating flaws became a tad trite mid way through the novel; I got kind of tired of reading about Iago's infatuation with her collarbones after the first two times it's mentioned.
The book doesn't really pick up on the irresistible inner workings of the premeditating murderer/liar/abuser/usurper we all love and hate Iago for til about 3/4th's into the book,
Daniel Namie
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“I am honest Iago, and I ask you: might not you be dishonest with yourself?”

--I, Iago by Nicole Galland

I, Iago is a contemporary rendition of the tragic Shakespearean play Othello. I, Iago was written in the first-person through the perspective of the great “honest Iago.” In summary, the character Iago is the antagonist in the play Othello whose deception leads to the tragedy’s conclusion. Interestingly, readers have admired Iago’s mischievous antics for hundreds of years, because Shakespe
Tori Samar
Let me start with what I liked about this book: 1) Galland obviously did her research on Venice. Anytime a novel has great historical credibility, I consider that a 'win.'
2) Iago's characterization: How creative was this?! Galland gives us an Iago who is a mixture of Othello, Desdemona, Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth. Galland's Iago is the "original" Othello--a man driven by passion and jealousy. He is as naïve as Desdemona (read the book to find out why I say this). He has all the ambition of Macbet
Kelly Hager
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
All you need to know about this book is that it's Othello from Iago's perspective.

Iago is one of my two favorite Shakespearean villains (the other being Lady Macbeth, and Iago wins because he doesn't go crazy. In fact, he's basically like, "Yeah. I engineered ALL OF THIS and I will not tell you why.") and so it was very interesting to read a book from his perspective.

Although it starts with his childhood, the book doesn't really get going until he meets and falls in love with Emilia. And, of co
Oct 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book bored me to death - I just so didn't care about anyone, and it was all so predictable. Stick with Shakespeare ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this up after reading her collaboration with Neal Stephenson (The Rise and Fall off D.O.D.O, which I loved). it's a novelization of Shakespeare's Othello, written from Iago's point of view in the first person. Her writing goes down easy -- it's generally incisive and fast-moving at the same time.

The first half or so of the book, before the events of the play, is enjoyable on its own as historical fiction set in Renaissance Venice. I completely bought her take on Iago's childhood and fa
Sara Stetz
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ruthless ambition that leads to disaster. The author is Very committed to complete disaster and ruin in this take on Othello from Iago’s point of view. Who’s the most corrupt? Hard to say in this version based on Shakespeare, a ruthless creator of tragedy. Even true love can’t save these men from their fate. I have not read the play, I think I’ll have my retired English teacher dad tell it to me. He likes to retell stories. Maybe it’ll be more bearable. Kudos to the author who did the story just ...more
Susanne Dunn
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
An excellent retelling of Othello told from Iago's point of view. We get the full backstory on the mysterious Iago. In Othello, not much is said about his motivation or what led him to be so spiteful and full of vengeance. The author creates a likeable character in the beginning before it all goes downhill. Definitely recommend. ...more
Samantha Puc
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Having finished this book, I'm sort of overwhelmed with emotion. Othello has always been one of my favorite plays -- it's fascinating to explore and analyze and discuss, and the potential for character history and background is endless. I, Iago explores one potential history for arguably the most famous character of this Shakespearean drama, Iago. It's a rich history, incredibly well-written and interesting. This novel is a war story on several different levels, but it's also -- as the author ac ...more
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it

I once saw a production of Othello where the director took the artistic license to have Othello kill Iago after Iago’s lines end and before Othello kills himself. As more fake blood spluttered onto the stage (and there had been a lot of that in this particular production) I had a jolt of heathen, bloodthirsty, vicarious pleasure. Good! my mind shouted out to see the villain get what he deserves.

At the end of this book I was so very profoundly sorry for Iago.

Galland takes the character of Iago, t
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I received this book at no cost through Goodreads Giveaway.

I was excited to read this book because I love period fiction. I tried to read it without regards to Othello (the play) to see how it would stand on its own. I think it is a very good read.

We meet Iago when he is fifteen and on the verge of becoming a man. Because his brother died in the military from a self-inflicted wound, Iago's father decides that Iago will join the artillery and help redeem the family name. Iago's parents do not exu
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janet Gardner
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one a lot (at least until close to the end). Galland set out to explore one of the great unanswered questions in Shakespeare: how did Iago get to be the way he is? She gives it to us straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, as Iago tells his own story of growing up the unappreciated youngest son of a mercantile family in Venice, where his congenital honesty is considered more liability than virtue. The no-nonsense life of a soldier suits him perfectly, until Othello--his belo ...more
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy historical fiction
I found Nicole Galland’s novel a compelling read from start to finish. The story is told from the main character Iago’s perspective and gives his account of what lead to the tragic events we know from Shakespeare’s play Othello. Ms. Galland richly describes Venetian culture and society. I felt drawn in by the descriptions of day to day life and the parties that Iago was loath to attend as a man who hated hiding behind masks both figuratively and literally as was the custom of the time. Yet this ...more
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book. I read Othello back in high school but I have only the barest memory of it so I evaluated this primarily as an independent work.

Iago was a fantastically rich anti-hero. My favorite type of villainy is the type that is nuanced and understandable, where the villain believes him/herself to be acting in the right and you the audience can see why they feel this way. Iago was a seductively flawed protagonist because I could see why he took every step that he did and I even fou
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
In short, intriguing but ultimately disappointing.

This is the kind of story about Iago (easily my favorite Shakespeare character) that I could have seen myself wanting to write,and Galland makes a decent go of it but ultimately there are clear flaws. The prose exemplifies it: quick-witted and clear, but at times rambling and sometimes jarringly anachronistic. The same plus/minus nature plagues the plot as well: Iago's development is solid - gradual and logical, and perhaps as good a backstory as
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-reads
This book starts off painfully slow, but once you get past the beginning, it turns into a well written tale that beautifully evokes the drama and decadence of medieval Venice.

Unfortunately, the concept of the book, while intriguing at first, fell flat for me in the end. The author comes off a little desperate for the reader to see Iago as a tragic hero rather than the notorious villain he is in Shakespeare's play. She largely goes about this by beating the reader over the head with the other cha
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
They say every villain is the hero of his own story, and I was truly hoping for that to prove true in Iago's tale. But, no, the author has taken the predictable route and turned a truly honest Iago into a petty, jealous, vindictive cliche. I was hoping for much, much better given the novel's beginning, wherein Iago is a truly honest character who is unable to lie or exaggerate truths.

In the end, though, it just a bunch of "woe, for the world has wronged me, and I must seek revenge to make things
Rachel Cumbee
Jan 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
This is the most blunt, unnuanced reading of the play I've ever experienced and it wasn't fun. I mean fine, don't explore the echos of Hamlet or the different ways you could argue that Iago's motivations are empty constructions or explain why the book would contradict Iago's attitude towards class or deal with that putting this specific secondary character in the spotlight defeats at least one purpose of Othello in the first place, but at least acknowledge that to write a backstory for Iago to f ...more
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow what an adventure! William Shakespeare at his most easy to read. No translation or study guide. Most intriguing. Found the characters to be most interesting. Why does one go to the dark side? Major question. Don't think this book will give you the answer but will definitely make you pause and think. Worth a look. ...more
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Nicole Galland writes critically-acclaimed novels in several different genres. She is mostly know for historical fiction, but recently teamed up with Neal Stephenson to write the New York Times bestselling, time-travel-themed The Rise And Fall of D.O.D.O. (HarperCollins, 2017). She'll be releasing its sequel, Master of the Revels, in February of 2021.

Her historical novels (all published by HarperC

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