License to Quill by Jacopo della Quercia

Remember, remember,
The fifth of November…

License to Quill is a page-turning James Bond-esque spy thriller starring William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe during history’s real life Gunpowder Plot. The story follows the fascinating golden age of English espionage, the tumultuous cold war gripping post-Reformation Europe, the cloak-and-dagger politics of Shakespeare’s England, and lastly, the mysterious origins of the Bard’s most haunting play: Macbeth. You won’t want to miss this fast-paced historical retelling!

For as much as we know about William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, there is even more that we do not know. Records weren’t kept with the meticulous nature that we see now, so for every fact we have there are a dozen blank spaces. It is with this lack of information that della Quercia weaves a fast paced and fun tale built around real people and a real event.

I really enjoyed License to Quill, not just because I am a fan of Shakespeare and Marlowe. It was fun reading these different characters and matching them up to their James Bond type counterparts. The gadgets that Bond is famous for make their appearances here too, from horses that are like sports cars (including the name) to a pocket watch that is also hand grenade.

At times funny and fast paced, at others a bit slower but no less intriguing, License to Quill is an enjoyable read. I found it very difficult to put down. While for the most part it is historically accurate, those who are absolute sticklers for accuracy might want to give this one a pass. Those who are looking for an enjoyable romp through one of history’s most interesting eras should definitely give this one a try. I absolutely loved it and would love to see more.

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