by David Snodin
Amazon.com Description: An unforgettable adventure beginning where Shakespeare's Othello leaves off
Wounded in love, tormented by his past, Shakespeare's most complex villain is brought magnificently to life in this tale of two adversaries—one an accused killer; the other, one of the most powerful men in Venice. Having escaped from Cyprus, accused of the murders of the governor, known as the Moor, and his lovely young wife, Iago is now locked in battle with Annibale Malipiero, known as Il Terribile, the chief inquisitor of Italy's greatest city.
Malipiero is repelled by the more brutal tasks of the interrogante. His obsession is with the very nature of evil. What makes a man into a murderer, he longs to know? Is Iago a lone psychopath, or does he lie at the heart of a more widespread Ottoman conspiracy? Malipiero knows that torture will not provide him with the answers he seeks. But there is, perhaps, a more audacious and unusual route to the truth . . .
Exuberantly inventive, thrillingly complex, and richly entertaining, Iago will captivate fans already familiar with Shakespeare and appeal to anyone who loves a rich historical novel. Iago marks the emergence of a remarkable new literary voice.
I am just over a hundred pages into Snodin's "Iago" and two problems have emerged:
1. Where's Iago? I came to this book because the editorial description promised the return of one of Shakespeare's greatest villains, engaging in a battle of wits with Annibale Malipiero, a man who I hoped would have the craftiness to challenge Iago to his limits. But so far, Iago hasn't appeared, and Annibale hasn't done much. I suppose I'm only a quarter through the book, so it's not completely unreasonable that the title character has yet to make a solid appearance, but there's also this second problem...
2. Who is this fifteen year old kid narrating the book? He's dreadfully dull. Gentile Stornello, the bookish cousin of Desdemona, has somehow stumbled into the storyteller's spotlight. So far, he is very distantly involved in the action - a son of a rival family has threatened to beat him senseless unless he finds out more about the mysterious death of his cousin and her Moor husband - but in spite of this, Gentile's getting an awful lot of page time. I assume he'll be important later, but I can only take so much of his teenage angst. He has fallen in LOVE with a girl - the all-caps LOVE, by the way, is not an embellishment of mine, for that's how Gentile's infatuation is described in the text - and he's constantly writing sonnets and thinking about how beautiful she is compared to other great women of Italian literature...and it's just a snore, considering I was expecting a protagonist with a more Machiavellian nature.
The book just isn't working for me. Little things in the way that it's written, like the fact that 'the Florentine' is never identified by his name (Cassio, I presume?) or that anachronistic phrases keep popping up in the oddest places ("If you've got it, flaunt it!" Anyone else have Gypsyflashbacks?) prevented true immersion into the Venice and Cyprus created by Snodin. But take my review with a grain of salt, for as I freely admit I did not finish the book - but one hundred pages is enough time, for *something* to capture my interest, if it was going to happen.
As a secondary criticism, I'm reading an advance reader's copy and I know that these are often unpolished compared to the final book. I especially hope that's true in this case, because the version of "Iago" sitting on my text is replete with misplaced words, punctuation errors and contradictory text. For example, Annibale Malipiero is described as fifty-five and Bonifacio Colonna as fifty-four years old, but in that same sentence it is stated that Colonna is "a few years younger than his colleague". This may not be a particularly important detail, but these things pop up just often enough that it's distracting. But again, I must repeat that I'm looking at an advance copy and these things are hopefully corrected in the final version.
1 out of 5 stars
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Peeking into the archives...today in:
2011: Uzumaki Vol. 1 by Junji Ito
2010: Writer’s Block: A Real Eye-Opener!
2009: Giveaway #12: Sorrow Wood
2008: News: Twilight Fans Turn to Angry Mob