Shakespeare's Rebel by C.C. Humphreys

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


To be (or not to be) the man to save England

England’s finest swordsman and fight choreographer at the magnificent new Globe Theatre has hit rock bottom. John Lawley just wants to win back his beloved, become a decent father to his son, and help his friend William Shakespeare finish The Tragedy of Hamlet, the play that threatens to destroy him.

But all is not fair in love and war. Dogged by his three devils—whiskey, women, and Mad Robbie Deveraux—John is dragged by Queen Elizabeth herself into a dangerous game of politics, conspiracy, and rebellion. Will the hapless swordsman figure out how to save England before it’s too late?

Brimming with vivid periodic detail, Shakespearean drama, and irresistible wit, Shakespeare’s Rebel is a thrilling romp through the romantic, revolutionary times of Elizabethan England that will delight historical fiction fans and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike.

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer and novelist.  He has written nine historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; Vlad – The Last Confession,  the epic novel of the real Dracula; and A Place Called Armageddon. His latest YA novel is The Hunt of the Unicorn. His work has been translated into thirteen languages. Find out more about him on his website:

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Exclusive excerpt

John had endured ambushes by Spaniards and by Indians and survived them all. But survival required a lot of fight to gain the opportune moment for flight. And it required a sword—his sword, which was in his scabbard over the shoulder of the man ahead.
The big Irish spearman had only been briefly dissuaded by the blow to his head. He came again now, yelling, point leveled. Kicking his heels in, John drove his horse on, away from the thrust, dragging the reins from the other man’s snatching hands. He was next to Tomkins in a trice. “Sword!” he bellowed, leaning back to avoid the swishing cuts that were keeping the attackers at bay. The man heard, saw. He may have been a cur serving a dog, but he obviously had been a soldier and he recognized bad odds and some aid. Catching the nearest attacker with a cut that took half his ear gained him the moment to bend at the waist toward John, and it took but that moment to snatch out his backsword. As soon as he had it, he was whirling it without aim; just as well as it rang off the steel of two thrusts, knocking both aside.
The trees pressed close, narrowing the path. The ambushers swarmed, to John’s eye a score at least to their five survivors, but their farmyard weapons revealed they were probably not soldiers and his escort were, and they were mounted. Even if only four of them were actually fighting, Sir Samuel’s spinning horse was keeping several of the assailants occupied. John, taking advantage of height, struck down, the folded weight of his backsword dropping as sudden as a thunderbolt. He drove forward into Tomkins’s assailants, forcing men to duck, plunge, weave, more concerned now with dodging steel than striking with it. One man ran at him wielding a sickle, leaning back to swipe. But he had a balancing hand forward, so John cut it off.
A terrible shriek, more sprayed blood, a slight drop in ferocity…and then a cry louder than all the rest. The huge Irishman who had first attacked John was running at him again now, spear leveled—and by the way he held it, he, at least, had held one before. Placing his head alongside his horse’s neck, John kicked hard with his heels, and the horse leaped forward. The running giant had not allowed for it, nor the backsword thrust ahead that John used to deflect the spear tip along his mount’s flank, flicking his point back in time to let the man impale his neck upon it. As he fell, John twisted then withdrew his blade.

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