Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book of Outremer

Anyone who is familiar with the history of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem cannot but be struck by the similarities in the Book of Outremer trilogy by Chaz Brenchley.

Book One - Tower of the King's Daughter
"The Kingdom of Outremer was born of blood and pain and passion; forty years on, enemies still threaten its borders and heresy still threatens its peace."

The First Book of Outremer is loosely based upon the first years of European settlement in the Holy Land after the First Crusade. It mixes a combination of magic and fantasy with the right amount of near history.

Feast of the King's Shadow
"The Kingdom of Outremer was raised on sands steeped in the blood of war, and to war it is returning. The Sharai tribes, bitter and divided in defeat, have regrouped in their stronghold of Rhabat. Observing an uneasy truce under the banner of the charismatic Hasan, they await the coming of the Ghost Walker, the long-promised deliverer of their people."

Hand of the King's Evil
"The Kingdom of Outremer was forged from the hot blood and cold steel of battle but a fragile peace has come at last. Still the threat of war stalks its borders and heresy lurks from within, the poison seeping from its own renegade state ... An army of poor is also marching to an uncertain end, following a preacher with a blessed relic and a gift for miracles."

Chaz on the Web:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Christopher Marlowe

"O, thou art fairer than the evening air clad in the beauty of a thousand stars."

Marlowe was born in February 1564, about 2 months before Shakespeare. His father was a prosperous middle-class merchant of Canterbury. Christopher received his early education at King's School in Canterbury and at the age of 17 went to Cambridge, where he held a scholarship requiring him to study for the ministry. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1584 and a master of arts degree in 1587. Toward the end of his stay at Cambridge he evidently aroused the suspicions of the university authorities, who threatened to withhold his degree. The Queen's Privy Council intervened, however, and assured the authorities that Marlowe "had done Her Majesty good service." The nature of this service is still a mystery, but it is likely that Marlowe was involved in a secret espionage mission abroad.

Shortly after receiving his master's degree, Marlowe went to London. He soon became known for his wild, bohemian ways and his unorthodox thinking. In 1589, for example, he was imprisoned for a time in connection with the death of a certain William Bradley, who had been killed in a violent quarrel in which Marlowe played an important part. He was several times accused of being an "atheist" and a "blasphemer," most notably by his fellow playwright Thomas Kyd. These charges led to Marlowe's arrest in 1593, but he died before his case was decided.

His Death:
The circumstances of Marlowe's death first came to light in the 20th century. On May 30, 1593, Marlowe dined at Deptford with a certain Ingram Frizer (Fraser) and two others. In the course of an argument over the tavern bill, Marlowe wounded Frizer with a dagger, whereupon Frizer seized the same dagger and stabbed Marlowe over the right eye. According to the coroner's inquest, from which this information is drawn, Marlowe died instantly.
Despite the unusual wealth of detail surrounding this fatal episode, there has been much speculation about the affair. It has been suggested, for example, that the deed was politically motivated and that Frizer (who was subsequently judged to have acted in self-defense) was simply acting as an agent for a more prominent person.

His Works:
Marlowe wrote only one major poem (Hero and Leander, unfinished at his death) and six or seven plays.

Tamburlaine the Great
, a two-part play, was first printed in 1590 but was probably composed several years earlier. The play itself is a bold demonstration of Tamburlaine's rise to power and his single-minded, often inhumanly cruel exercise of that power. The hero provokes awe and wonder but little sympathy.

Although written sometime between 1588 and 1592,
The Jew of Malta was not printed until 1633. The chief figure, the phenomenally wealthy merchant-prince Barabas, is one of the most powerful Machiavellian figures of the Elizabethan drama. Unlike Tamburlaine, who asserts his will openly and without guile, Barabas is shrewd, devious, and secretive.

Doctor Faustus, which is generally considered Marlowe's greatest work, was probably also his last. Its central figure, a scholar who feels he has exhausted all the conventional areas of human learning, attempts to gain the ultimate in knowledge and power by selling his soul to the devil. The high point comes in the portrayal of the hero's final moments, as he awaits the powers of darkness who demand his soul.

  • The Reckoning by Charles Nicholl (Review)
  • Christopher Marlowe by Park Honan
  • Christopher Marlowe by JE Bakeless
  • Who was Kit Marlowe? The story of the poet and playwright by Della Hilton
  • Christopher Marlowe by Philip Henderson
  • Christopher Marlowe by GM Pinciss