Nick's Reviews > Ruled Britannia

Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove
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really liked it

This is an alternate history novel where the Spanish Armada succeeded, picking up ten years after England's defeat with Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower of London and Phillip II on his deathbed. Don't let all that scare you off - you don't need to know much beyond the very basic jist of what the Spanish Armada was to enjoy this book, although I don't think it's a surprise to say that history nerds will get much more out of it. The other audience I'd recommend the book for is Shakespeare fans, as the man himself is the book's main character, and in fact the entire book is written in his style. This may sound annoying, but Turtledove is able to pull it off for the most part, and surprisingly I never did get tired of people taking ten words what they could say in two (a random dialouge sample from page 130 about a guy excited to have a new play to read: "Dear Geoff's prompter and book-keeper. He hath before him a new play - so new, belike the ink's still damp. What'll he do? Plunge his beak into its liver, like the vulture with Prometheus. A cannon could sound beside him without his hearing't").

As it turns out, the book's real problem is its length - it comes in at a bloated 450 pages, at least 150 of which it could really stand to lose. To be fair, the book's setting does suggest itself as worthy of lengthy exploration, and I would be a little bit more forgiving if these pages were all just detailing the alternate history flavor of the book, but a fair chunk of these pages are eaten up by a pointless character and two particularly dumb plot twists late in the book. (Happily for the story, they basically cancel each other out, but a barrel of ink is spent on them needlessly.) In the end, this isn't an easy book to recommend to anybody but history buffs and Shakespeare fans, but speaking as a member of one of those demographics, I enjoyed it enough for a hearty four stars.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 30, 2013 – Finished Reading
September 30, 2014 – Shelved

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