Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Fools and Mortals

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and...

Details Fools and Mortals

TitleFools and Mortals
Release DateOct 19th, 2017
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, European Literature, British Literature

Reviews Fools and Mortals

  • Maureen
    Hmmm, not sure about this one. Did I like it? Yes, in parts, but then other parts fell flat for me.In the latter years of the sixteenth century, the professional theatre as we know it was born. Prior to this time there were plays and actors, but the companies had nowhere to perform other than inns, parish halls and some of the great houses, until permanent playhouses were built in London.It's here that we make the aquaintance of Richard Shakespea...
  • Paromjit
    Bernard Cornwell takes us into the Elizabethan era and the world of the theatre evolving from a transient company of players touring London and other towns to the birth of permanent theatre, with buildings built solely for this purpose. The popularity of plays with audiences puts pressure for new plays on a continuous basis, leading to a demand for writers to satisfy the demands of growing audiences. At the same time, the chill winds of Puritanis...
  • Emma
    This feel-good adventure in the Elizabethan era is full of detail and emotion. Slow to build but well worth the investment, it follows Richard Shakespeare, theatre player and resentful sibling to the talented, Will. Not immediately likeable, this is a journey of Richard's growth as much as anything else, and through his experiences, we are offered an intriguing picture of two very different brothers. Yet their shared home is the playhouse, with i...
  • Emily May
    Hmm, perhaps this was a bad choice for my first foray into the world of Bernard Cornwell. I've seen his books around for years, and after my recent binge-read (and love) of Ken Follett's epic Pillars of the Earth trilogy, I was longing for some more historical fiction. This was just so bland and tame in comparison, though.Glancing around reviews, I see that this is outside of the author's usual comfort zone, making me think I should maybe try The...
  • Ace
    4 stars ⛤⛤⛤⛤It is obvious while reading this that Bernard Cornwell's new hobby is acting in theatre. His well researched tale about the performance of A Mid Summer Nights Dream at the wedding of their sponsors daughter in 1795 (at which Queen Elizabeth was in attendance), is a delight to read.Rather than focusing on William, the story revolves around younger brother Richard who until now as a boy has been playing girls and women, but is t...
  • Dannii Elle
    My first Bernard Cornwell and I loved every second of it!Set in the Elizabethan era, this follows a group of theatrical players as they battle against the disreputable name of their trade, to hone their craft and strive to continue doing what they love. But this is not just any group of players. This group is the Lord Chamberlain Men, led by playwright William Shakespeare. And this renowned historical figure is unlike you have ever seen him portr...
  • Emma
    3.5 stars was my original rating, but having reviewed it now, I realise I got a lot from the history so I’m rounding up to a full 4 stars.I’m not sure that staunch fans of Bernard Cornwell would love this. I have loved some of his work but overall it’s too focused on war, battles and fighting. This is not action packed in a way that Cornwell lovers will be used to. So this story, set in Elizabethan times was a novel I was looking forward to...
  • Sarah
    So I took my sweet time finishing this one, but there was so much to savor about it. There seems to have been a revived interest in William Shakespeare this year, with the airing of the show Will over the summer. Unfortunately my understanding is that the show has been cancelled after only one season, but I watched the whole season and really loved it.So I was doubly excited to learn that not only was Bernard Cornwell releasing a new book, but it...
  • Fiona
    A hugely enjoyable, almost entirely fictitious, romp through Shakespearean England narrated by Richard, Will’s brother. The plays are brought to life by Richard’s descriptions of performances and the book is clearly well researched in respect of how early theatre worked. It would be 5 stars except that I found there to be quite a bit of repetition. We’re told several times, for example, how ceruse mixed with crushed pearls makes the skin wh...
  • happy
    Fools and Mortals is a definite change of pace novel for Mr. Cornwell. There are no great battle scenes, either in a dark age Shield Wall or a 19th Century battle line. There is also no great overarching theme, ie the creation of a unified England in the 9th and 10th centuries or the defeat of Napoleon in the early 19th century. This novel is a look at how modern theater developed in the late 16th century during Elizabeth I reign.Mr. Cornwell put...
  • Lucy Banks
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.Shakespeare? Check. Intrigue? Check. Plenty of fun? Check. I'm sold!Despite having watched The Last Kingdom on TV, I've never got around to reading any books by Bernard Cornwell, so I was delighted to give this one a go. And very entertaining it was too! The protagonist is Richard Shakespeare, the younger (and better looking) brother of William Shakespeare. He's an ac...
  • Bam
    "Lord, what fools these mortals be." A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 3, Scene 2With prodigious historical-fiction writing skills, Bernard Cornwell now brings his focus to the Elizabethan era with this delightful novel set in London in 1595. It is told from the first-person point of view of Richard Shakespeare, a young actor in his brother William's theatre company. Richard runs away from home as a teen and hopes his brother Will will take him in w...
  • Richard
    8/10If you’d have said I would have enjoyed a book about the trials and tribulations of actors in the 16th century and the complexities of writing, producing and performing a play then I would have quite easily said you were full of something. However, I requested this book more because of who wrote it than what it was about and went in without being overly excited about it caught me from the off and was a surprise hit with me!I was waiting for...
  • Jean
    Bernard Cornwell is one of my favorite historical novelists. This book is a bit different from his usual topics of British history. In this book Cornwell tells the story of Richard Shakespeare. Richard works on his career on the London stage but it is his brother, William, whose career takes off. One of William’s manuscripts disappears and Richard is the key suspect.The book is well written and researched. Cornwell has Richard telling his own s...
  • Margaret
    A deviation from the norm for Bernard Cornwell.Richard Shakespeare is an actor, and a thief, he is also the younger brother of William Shakespeare and a player with the Lord Chamberlain's Men.Puritans are trying to close the Theatre, Richard is fed up with playing women, and someone has stolen some of Will's plays.'Fools and Mortals' isn't a bad book. It has it's interesting points. The workings of an Elizabethean theatre company made for interes...
  • Roman Clodia
    A feel-good romp of a novel that bears more than a passing resemblance to Shakespeare in Love, albeit without the romance and emotional edge. Cornwell's research is sometimes worn a bit heavily ('Titania! A lovely name,' Father Laurence said, 'your brother took it from Ovid, didn't he?' 'Did he?' 'From the Metamorphoses, of course') but overall he gives a good account of what it must have been like to be a player in the mid 1590s. I enjoyed that ...
  • Leah
    Pursued by a bear...A new playhouse is opening in London and the owners are determined to make it a huge success. Actors are easy to get hold of but new plays are the magic that bring in the playgoers. Over at the Theatre, Richard Shakespeare is struggling to survive on the measly wages he receives. He's getting too old to play women's roles and his older brother Will won't promise him roles playing men. He seems like the perfect target for the n...
  • Adrian Deans
    When I mentioned to a literary friend that I had purchased Bernard Cornwell’s latest, he merely shrugged.‘I’ve read about ten of Cornwell’s books,’ sneered my friend, ‘but only one story. He’s always the same.’Well, I had to admit that the Sharpe books always feature a special mission, a pompous superior officer, a renegade Spanish priest or warlord and a major battle…but it’s quite indelicate to say so when he does it so well...
  • Donna
    I feel bad (a little bit anyway) for giving this only three stars, but this was one of those books where I was only mildly entertained. I loved the subtle humor, but this dragged in places. Then I'd like it again, then it would drag and on it went. I appreciated the humor the most. The author also did a great job in defining the characters. Both of these things I have come to expect from Bernard. I'm just not sure I really liked this one, so 3 st...
  • Judy Lesley
    ARC courtesy of HarperCollins and the Amazon Vine Voices program.I have seen the Shakespeare play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" performed many times on stage but I don't think I've ever enjoyed it more than when I read Bernard Cornwell's explanation of the staging in this historical fiction novel. The principal character here is Richard Shakespeare, 21, the younger brother of William who is 31 in this year of 1595. Richard ran away from home seven ...
  • Stephen
    this book is a move away from what he normally writes about and felt it was missing something, was slow to get going with the plot. the story itself based in late 16th century southwark with Richard shakespeare ( the brother of william) and the setting of the play midsummer's night dream.
  • Cynthia
    Cornwell makes the story of how Shakespeare created and first performed his “A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It has a realyou are there feel...the times, how people lived especially actors or players as they were then called. The main character is Shakespeare’s younger brother Richard and the relationship between them. Richard is ten years younger than William and fairly new to London and the theater scene and though new he’s already lived a l...
  • Kate Quinn
    A delightful departure from Cornwell's usual wonderful blood-and-battle epics, depicting in all its glitter and squalor the world of Elizabethan theatre. The hero is Shakespeare's younger sibling Richard, an actor resentful of his dour playwright brother and yearning to graduate from women's roles to men's roles. "Midsummer Night's Dream" is to be performed for a noble wedding, after that "Romeo and Juliet" is being written...what part will he ge...
  • Kirsten
    Bernard Cornwell is surely the master of the historical novel. I first discovered him with Richard Sharpe and the Napoleonic Wars. He goes a little further back in history with this one. And, instead of soldiers, we are immersed in the world of actors in Elizabethan England.The danger of living (and especially worshipping) in Elizabetha England pervades as does the day-to-day running of the early theater. I really enjoyed this novel and the peek ...
  • Susan Johnson
    William Shakespeare is back on center stage with the new TV show, "Will", about his early life in London. This book is about his younger brother, Richard, who is a struggling actor in his brother's acting troupe. Richard is young, better looking that Will and a pain in his older brother's side. Struggling on his meager actor's pay, he takes to petty thieving to help support himself.Richard plays the women's roles but desperately wants to graduate...
  • Marlene
    Originally published at Reading RealityIf the title sounds familiar, it should. It’s a bit of one of the many famous lines from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” It is apropos for this book in multiple ways.This is a story about the writing of, the stealing of, and the first performance of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. And the mortals within the story, and not just within the play,...
  • Mary Yarde
    “Lord, what fools these mortals be…” Running away from Stratford-Upon-Avon seemed like a sensible thing to do at the time. Richard Shakespeare was sure that his eldest brother, William, would be glad to see him. Alas, that was not the case. But he was here now. There was nothing William could do about that. Following in his brother's footsteps, Richard becomes a player as well as the occasional thief.As the years roll on, Richard Shakespear...
  • Kate Vane
    I haven’t read any Bernard Cornwell before. I like social and political history while his novels appear to be more about battles and action. However, Fools and Mortals really appealed because of the setting in the Elizabethan theatre.In Fools and Mortals, Richard Shakespeare has run away to London and is cramping his big brother’s style. William Shakespeare is a sharer (shareholder) in a theatre and an established writer and actor. Richard is...
  • Lola Et La Vie
    (2nd half is a close a 4-star!)A story told from the point of view of Richard Shakespeare, brother to playwright William, who is part of a group of players who stage plays at The Theatre.Richard, our narrator, was very likable as a young man who wants to be taken seriously by his older brother and as a player. The tale is well written, and Cornwell manages to bring 16th century London to life. And yet I did not love this book as much was I wanted...