Tuesday, June 17, 2008

King Of Shadows

King of Shadows by Susan Cooper. Personal copy. Read for the Scholar's Blog Book Discussion. This discussion took place in February of 2007; I'm going thru old books that I enjoyed but didn't post about when I read.

The Plot: Present-day Nat is a teenager and actor who is in a staging of one of Shakespeare's Plays. Then, boom! Time slip happens and he's back in the day, meeting the real Bard.

The Good: I love time slip novels. I love Shakespeare.

Nat meets Shakespeare and they bond. Nat's father is dead; and Nat sees Shakespeare as a quasi father figure.

OK, true confession time: when I read the Nat/Shakespeare relationship, I thought, "hm. gay." There was something about the intensity of Nat's feelings towards Shakespeare that just seemed -- well, not as a son to a father. Or a friend to a friend. And I thought, OK, that's just my reading, I've read too much slash fanfiction. But then I saw that Roger thought the same thing!

Tho, part of my reading may also be because of Susan Cooper and Hume Cronyn. I think this, in a way, is her love story to him; with SC's feelings about HC projected onto Nat's feelings for WS.

Anyway, I also liked this book because of the theatre! angle, a world that Cooper knows. The present day theatre, trying to recreate the Shakespeare plays; and then the world of Shakespeare, putting them on for the first time.

Arby's word convey the heart of this book: "Nothing is more important than the company; nothing is more important than the play." Is it the people or the play that is more important?

Final worlds: I was really, really frustrated by the non-explanation for the timeslip. It turns out that Babbage/ Burbage sends Nat back in time to save WS; but it never explains how B/B manages to learn the secrets of a long life/ time travel.

Edited to add: Date changed from Monday to Tuesday to qualify for Charlotte's Library Timeslip Tuesday.


Michele said...

I guess that having grown up on Doctor Who (which either gives you an entirely farcical explanation (Skience as opposed to something vaguely like Science), or no explanation at all), and other SF shows featuring time travel that it doesn't bother me in the least not knowing. Plus the story's so damned good, I actually don't care how he did it. Perhaps he's secretly a Time Lord-in-a-Fobwatch (a la Human Nature/Family of Blood, and Utopia from last year's series) and he's actually got a TARDIS out back disguised as a portaloo (oops - that's the Big Finish audio lover in me slipping out !!)

(Please excuse the randomness of this comment - I'm about to run out the door to my other job !)

Charlotte said...

Viz lack of explanation--the book I reviewed for today just has a magic radio. At least you have a person involved!

Thanks for sending this over for linkage!

Liz B said...

Usually I'm good with a small or no little explanation. I think what bugged here is the implication that B. was able to make the time travel happen without telling us how it happened. Map? Magic? Tardis? BTW, its bugging me now, what is the one where the girl works in a recreated colonial village in canada and goes back in time, as the person she's playing? There is no reason there -- but it works very well

Michele said...

Oooh don't know that one !

Liz B said...

OK I just found the title: Another Shore by Nancy Bond. "Seventeen-year-old Lyn, working in a reconstructed colonial settlement in Nova Scotia, suddenly finds herself transported back to 1744, when the French inhabitants are at war with England." It is very good!

Michele said...

Oh - thanks for finding that title for me. I'll have to see if the library has it.