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Tamburlaine Must Die

Louise Welsh

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Canongate Books Ltd

Published : 2005

Copyright : Louise Welsh 2004

ISBN-10 : PB 1-84195-604-X
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-84195-604-6

Publisher's Write-Up

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 is the searing adventure of a man who dares to defy both God and the state and whose murder remains a taunting mystery to the present day.

'A tale of vivid homoerotic passion, murderous treachery and strutting intellectual pride.'

Financial Times

'A page-turner to the very end.'

Sunday Herald

'Tamburlaine Must Die refines Welsh's powerful vision of death in a godless world... This bold, imaginative, vibrant novella resonates on several levels. Its claustrophobic airs of menace and betrayal are those of a thriller. It works as historical fiction and captures the Tudor setting by virtue of Welsh's extraordinary prose.'

Daily Telegraph
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Reader Reviews

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Review by GeneJosie (310311) Rating (7/10)

Review by GeneJosie
Rating 7/10
Tamburlaine Must Die by contemporary author Louise Welsh is an exceptionally fine example of a literary crime fiction which brings to the forefront the captivating hero of Christopher Marlowe’s daring and thrilling play.

A historical crime thriller about the last few days in the life of the 16th century English dramatist and poet Christopher Marlowe. The writer finds himself in Lord Walsingham’s country house in Scadbury on the outskirts of London. Marlowe enjoys the comforts of his patron’s establishment and the favours of his lord while the capital city is besieged with another plague while the theatres are closed.

While taking his walk in the beautiful forest Marlowe is interrupted by horsemen who come with the orders of taking him to London where he later finds himself confronted with the members of the Royal Privy Council and questioned for the libellous verses being painted around town with the signature of the protagonist of his audacious play Tamburlaine and besides his opinions on religion and his allegiance and loyalty to the Queen. To his surprise he is warned and set free on condition he does not leave the city. The poet decides to inquire for himself and find out who betrayed him and while he goes on this quest the readers are led from one stratagem to another resulting in violent deaths and finally to the denouement of the plot which actually justifies the title of the novella.

A good thriller set against the troubled background of war and plague during the tumultuous Elizabethan age with its vicious political intrigues, brutal tortures and unpredictable and unjustifiable condemnations pervaded with the picturesque personalities like the playwright Thomas Kyd, the popular actor Thomas Blaize and the colourful courtier and adventurer Walter Raleigh who are like the myriad stars of a summer sky.

A concise book which could be read even by non-amateurs of history, written in a simple language with metaphors relating to the age and short pithy ironical passages which give a certain charm to the work. Perhaps uninitiated readers of British history and especially the Tudor Age may find it a bit difficult to catch up with certain remarks and allusions to the various minor characters like the booksellers and gaolers, drinkers and spies who are important to give the story its authenticity.
GeneJosie (31st March 2011)

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