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

Reviews Fools and Mortals

  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • A Bald Mage** Steve
    via GIPHY Bald Mage Rating 8.5/10I would like to thank HarperCollins UK and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book for free, the release date for the book is 19th October 2017(Things base and vile, holding no quantity, Love can transpose to form and dignity: Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind.)When I got the opportunity to read Bernard Cornwell’s new book I couldn...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Yvonne
    Set in Elizabethan England, at a time when static playhouses are still in their infancy, as the days of players touring the country will gradually decline. The story focuses on one playhouse and it’s players known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It is here where the reader in introduced to Richard, a small time actor who has followed his estranged brother to London. His brother is the script writer William Shakespeare and scripts are becoming ...
  • Cheryl M-M
    Kudos to Cornwell for giving the works of Shakespeare their dues, especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He dissects the piece, as if it were the hottest new reality-soap in town. Leaving the historical references and importance of Shakespeare’s work aside for a moment, what remains are emotional roller-coasters for the masses. Shakespeare gives us drama, laughter, tears,violence and death. His plays were live television.Cornwell is an excelle...
  • Pete
    The master storytelling of Bernard Cornwell mixed with the intrigue of Elizabethan England & in particular the world of Shakespeare. How could it fail?Loved the way the 'Theatre' of the day is explained as the story goes on & the way that 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' is worked in to the story.Defiantly for followers of Cornwell & hopefully, like me, fans of the Bard.
  • Bart
    ***Actual rating: 4,25***
  • Ericafoferica
    I was lucky enough to win a copy of Bernard Cornwell's latest novel through the Goodreads giveaway. I wasn't expecting to win, but I'm glad I did! This novel was already on my "to buy" list and I'll probably end up buying a hardcover edition for my collection anyways. I liked it that much!One of the things I love most about Bernard Cornwell is his attention to historical detail. I literally felt like I was a Player attending all the rehearsals an...
  • Nick
    In one sense, this book is a complete departure from the Bernard Cornwell stories that I'm accustomed to, as it's set in the Elizabethan era and focused on actors and playwrights, rather than warriors and soldiers. Yet at it's core I found much that was familiar: the same fairly succinct narration, a fast paced narrative, and the same types of drama, love, and even violence that are central to Cornwell's other tales. If you enjoyed the stories of...
  • Jackie
    “Of Fools and Mortals” is Bernard Cornwells’ first novel set in the Elizabethan age and surprisingly tackles the embryonic Theatre scene of England as its backdrop. Anyone expecting “Cornwell does Shardlake” like I was, may be mildly disappointed. Without giving too much away, it features a (soon to be) famous set of players as they struggle with a whole host of problems, Love, theft, treachery, religious fanatics, court intrigue and ke...