Review – Tamburlaine Must Die

Posted April 1, 2014 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise WelshTamburlaine Must Die, Louise Welsh

I’m not at all sure what I think of this one. It was recommended to me as part of a challenge as probably not being my usual thing, but it’s not too far off, really. I mean, I’ve got Bruce Holsinger’s A Burnable Book on the go, and that involves Chaucer and Gower… Anyway, I think I might have appreciated this more if I could remember more about Kit Marlowe’s death. Pretty much all I could remember was the line from Shakespeare, “a great reckoning in a little room”, thought to refer to Marlowe’s death (for bonus points, it was said in the rich tones of the man who lectured us on Shakespeare in my first year of university).

The style is sort of faux-Elizabethan, and sometimes that slips a bit or rings false, but mostly it was a smooth read. I finished it, though, feeling I’d missed something. I didn’t quite get the connection between everything that happened and Marlowe’s actual death. Unless it was meant to be just a distraction? Or maybe I’m missing some of the known facts about Marlowe’s death that make it all make sense.

It’s still an interesting read, using its Elizabethan context and the known facts of the situation and weaving a story out of them which includes violence, blasphemy, illicit sex and spying.

On the purely aesthetic front, having the entire thing in italics was not a smart decision. It really annoyed me, in fact. Italics are harder to read for a lot of people, me apparently included, not to mention the difficulties someone with a sight impairment could have. Just… why?

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2 responses to “Review – Tamburlaine Must Die

  1. Could the italics thing be an attempt at giving the book a ‘handwritten’ feel, you think? (I poked at the Amazon sample and it’s first person, so… That seems plausible to me.) But yes it’s not particularly good for reading longer pieces of text in most cases. I’m sure there are fonts created to take that into account, but.

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