Category Archives: C C Humphreys

C.C. Humphreys: Shakespeare’s Rebel (Review)

Author Bio

David Cooper Photography 2007

Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer and novelist.  He has written nine historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers; Vlad – The Last Confession,  the epic novel of the real Dracula; and A Place Called Armageddon. His latest YA novel is The Hunt of the Unicorn. His work has been translated into thirteen languages. Find out more about him on his Website

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Title: Shakespeare’s Rebel

Author: C.C. Humphreys

ISBN: 9781492609902

Pubdate: October 6, 2015

Summary

Shakespeare's Rebel cover

Buy Links

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Indie Bound

To be (or not to be) the man to save England

England’s finest swordsman and fight choreographer at the magnificent new Globe Theatre has hit rock bottom. John Lawley just wants to win back his beloved, become a decent father to his son, and help his friend William Shakespeare finish The Tragedy of Hamlet, the play that threatens to destroy him.

But all is not fair in love and war. Dogged by his three devils—whiskey, women, and Mad Robbie Deveraux—John is dragged by Queen Elizabeth herself into a dangerous game of politics, conspiracy, and rebellion. Will the hapless swordsman figure out how to save England before it’s too late?

Brimming with vivid periodic detail, Shakespearean drama, and irresistible wit, Shakespeare’s Rebel is a thrilling romp through the romantic, revolutionary times of Elizabethan England that will delight historical fiction fans and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike.

Excerpt

“Buffoon!” John bellowed. “Whoreson dog! Do you think I have time to play with fools and children? I am going to pluck out your liver and eat it raw before your fading eyes.” Accompanying this with a great swish down through the air with his cutting edge, he leaped forward, seeming to cover a lot of ground while only taking a pace, then bringing his back edge fast up, steel whistling through the air. Next, he put himself into guard—­but not in a quiet way, for as he yelled again, he took the step back he needed for room, at the same time sweeping his sword up in a great stroke against the edge of his buckler, making the small shield clang. At shout and strike, the men before him again slowed, so once more he brought his sword hard down from the height, ringing metal on metal again, taking another step back. Then, with a final retire and his guard low, he jerked the sword tip hard up in an unmistakable severing of man’s most precious part. All winced as he then aligned his sword’s tip with his buckler, thrusting both forward, peering over the twin steel even as he stepped back once more.

It was a true swashbuckle. He had executed it well, perhaps lessening the memory of his previous slide to the cobbles. A cheer came from the crowd, drowning Silver’s “Oh, sir!” at this breach of English restraint. Yet both men knew also that the noise had caused a distraction. Both used it now.

John heard that swish of steel beside him, a first yelp of pain, the last things he heard. It was ever thus with him in a fight, the near silent place he went to, entering it even as he launched himself. Thought and action, one.

The main threat was in the middle, so he avoided it directly, slamming the blades on his right with both his own weapons, collecting his foe’s with a slight circle of his own sword, before knocking aside the first thrust at his side with a downward sweep of his buckler. The boy who’d delivered it recovered with a step back, taking guard again, giving John the moment to close right, keeping the rapier and dagger he’d gathered with his sword while sweeping his elbow up, driving it into the apprentice’s cheek.

His weight was behind the blow. The youth went down, falling into the butcher’s boy, blocking another advance—­which gave John the second moment he needed. As the apprentice on the other side lunged at his face, from the crouch where his elbow strike had taken him John swept his blade across and hard, knocking the weapon away, exposing the man’s face to the buckler, driven in like a fist, a metaled fist, straight to the nose. The youth cartwheeled backward, dropping both his blades as he went, and smashed into the

eel cart.

“Oy!” the stallholder screamed, steadying his stall, though not enough to prevent some of his produce from flopping onto the cobbles.

Review

When i get to the end of a book im always eager to sit and write the review, to express my opinion and feelings of the work i have just finished. I think this is probably the first time i have been intimidated by the process, worried that i didnt have the right words or the eloquence to do justice to the book.

Yes the book is simply that good.

I have read many stories where the authors love of the subject is clear in the telling of the story. But this time its more than that its a passion for the tale, for the time, for the people and for the subject. This passion leaps from every word, every utterance of every character the very bones and soul of the story.

The synopsis will tell you enough about the plot im certainly not going to spoil a single line of it for you.  What my utmost desire is by writing this, is that you go and buy a copy.  Because this story has it all; a love story, a family story, History, mystery and intrigue, passion, sex, plots, fighting, infighting, backstabbing…the list could go on and on. Its is the complete package.

A book this good comes along only rarely and deserves to hit the bestseller list.

Highest possible recommendation:

(Parm)

 Series

French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2002)
The French ExecutionerBlood Ties
Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770s (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770sThe Blooding of Jack AbsoluteAbsolute Honour
Novels
Vlad: The Last Confession (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
Plague (2014)
The Curse of Anne Boleyn (2015)
Fire (2015)
Vlad: The Last ConfessionThe Hunt of the UnicornA Place Called ArmageddonShakespeare's RebelPlague

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C C Humphreys: The French Executioner (Blog Tour/ Guest Post)

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Chris (C.C.) Humphreys was born in Toronto and grew up in the UK. All four grandparents were actors and since his father was an actor as well, it was inevitable he would follow the bloodline. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. Favorite roles have included Hamlet, Caleb the Gladiator in NBC’s Biblical-Roman epic mini-series, ‘AD – Anno Domini’, Clive Parnell in ‘Coronation Street’, and Jack Absolute in Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’.

Chris has written eight historical novels. The first, ‘The French Executioner’ told the tale of the man who killed Anne Boleyn, was runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002, and has been optioned for the screen. Its sequel was ‘Blood Ties’. Having played Jack Absolute, he stole the character and has written three books on this ‘007 of the 1770’s’ – ‘Jack Absolute’, ‘The Blooding of Jack Absolute’ and ‘Absolute Honour’- short listed for the 2007 Evergreen Prize by the Ontario Library Association, all currently being re-released in the US by Sourcebooks. His novel about the real Dracula, ‘Vlad, The Last Confession’ was a bestseller in Canada and his novel, ‘A Place Called Armageddon’ was recently published in Turkish. All have been published in the UK, Canada, the US and many have been translated in various languages including Russian, Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Serbian, Turkish and Indonesian.

He has also written a trilogy for young adults ‘The Runestone Saga’. A heady brew of Norse myth, runic magic, time travel and horror, the first book in the series ‘The Fetch’ was published in North America in July 2006, with the sequel, ‘Vendetta’ in August 2007 and the conclusion, ‘Possession’, August 2008. They are also published in Russia, Greece, Turkey and Indonesia. His latest Young Adult novel ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’ was released by Knopf in North America in March 2011 and also published in Spain.

Author in the role of Jack Absolute. Malvern 1987

His new adult novel ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’, about William Shakespeare’s fight choreographer at the time of ‘Hamlet’, was released in the UK in March 2013 and in Canada August 2011.

He has recently signed to write two books for Century in the UK and Doubleday in Canada. ‘Plague’ and ‘Fire’ are tales of religious fundamentalist serial killers set against the wild events of 1665 to 1666, London. They will be published in 2014 and 2015.

Chris lives on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with his wife and young son.

 

9781402272349-PR

 

About the book

The last thing Jean Rombaud expects upon being summoned to behead Anne Boleyn is to dedicate his life to her. But the ill-fated queen has a mysterious request for her executioner: that after taking her life he also take her infamous six-fingered hand and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France. His oath will set Jean on the most dangerous journey of his life.

In The French Executioner, C.C. Humphreys once again brings the past to life in all its glory and peril. This thrilling novel captures the breathtaking story of how courage, love, and loyalty bound Anne Boleyn to the man who ended her life—and saved her legacy.

Guest Post

What was the most surprising thing you discovered in your research for the novel?

This is a good question.

The French Executioner was my very first novel. Thus I had no real idea how to write one and assumed that one needed to know absolutely everything about a book before you began to write it. (I have since discovered that such obsessive research can be a form of procrastination and now only read for about three months, trusting that the novel and especially the characters will teach me what I need to study as I go along!) Also, I didn’t believe that I would ever truly summon the will (and courage) to actually start. So I spent a lot of time in second hand bookstores scanning shelves, thinking: If I ever do write that book about Anne Boleyn’s Executioner – which I probably never will – but if I do I will put everything into it I want to write about! Ooh, look at this book about slave galleys. I’d want a battle with them. Ooh, here’s one on the Black Mass. That’s definitely in!

So, in the six years between having the idea for the novel (Anne Boleyn begs her executioner to take her six fingered hand when he takes her head and get rid of it. What happened next) and beginning to write it, I acquired a large library of books I read on various subjects.

The most surprising thing? It was a book about St. Antony’s Fire. This was the mass hallucination that would take villages when the villagers ate bread made from rye, that had been infected by the grain disease ergot – later to be synthesized into LSD. The poor people would eat the bread, and anyone who did would start having terrible contractions and massive hallucinations a few hours later. They would not know what it really was so assumed the Devil had come to take them to his fires. There are reports from all over Europe but the disease began to disappear with better crop techniques in the 18th century. However there was one outbreak in 1952 in a village in France. I bought that book, read it, shuddered – a lot of people died – then used it in my novel, as some of my characters get caught up in the Fire.

Horrible – but very colorful. My main villain is the Archbishop of Siena – a corrupt, decadent, highly educated killer. His hallucinations – full of Biblical and Satanic figures – were especially interesting to write!

My Review

For me this was an interesting experience: Chris Humphreys is one of my favourite authors, but this is a skill he has honed, and The French Executioner is an early novel for him, so how good was he back in 2002? Well the starting premise of this historical novel is the execution of Ann Boleyn. From three known facts: that she was beheaded by a French swordsman, that his name was Jean Rombaud and she had an extra finger on one hand from this point CC Humphreys has spun a tale that takes the reader across France, Germany and Italy and surprisingly thrills along the way in much the same way he does now in 2014.
Those who read my reviews know i hate to give away too much plot, the synopsis gives enough for you to want to buy the story. What im here to do is say…DID IT WORK?

I can honestly now say that Chris Humphreys has not written a bad book (this was the only one i had not read up to now). As usual great characters, wonderful story arc, great pace and over all plot, if I’m über critical maybe not quite as tight as say “Shakespeare’s Rebel” but considering the growth you see in many authors, Mr Humphreys just started out brilliant and kept going….

Highly recommend

(Parm)

Series

French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2002)
The French ExecutionerBlood Ties
Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770s (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770sThe Blooding of Jack AbsoluteAbsolute Honour
Novels
Vlad: The Last Confession (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
Plague (2014)
The Curse of Anne Boleyn (2015)
Fire (2015)
Vlad: The Last ConfessionThe Hunt of the UnicornA Place Called ArmageddonShakespeare's RebelPlague

 

 

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Do you have the PLAGUE!!! Interview with C C Humphreys

CC H

C C Humphreys:

I have again been fortunate in that Chris has agreed to answer some of my frivolous questions regarding his book, Chris is one of my favourite authors, it seems the air in Canada breeds writing ability (might have to move there…. if it wasn’t for all that…Cold).  I hope you like the Interview, any lacking in the interview is my daft questions, so feel free to comment and give me questions for future interviews.

What ever you do please click one of the links and buy the book, its not often i say “i promise” but in this case i mean it, “I promise you will not be disappointed” this is once again a great book and riveting read.

My review

Plague: Interview:

Plague

1: What led you to write about one of the darkest periods in history?

My agent and I were chatting and he was talking about the book. How people love the artifact, the touch, the smell. ‘I can see a rack of books at WH Smiths Charing Cross. The title ‘Plague’. All black and red and…”

     “Hold on,” I said, “Are you talking about the Great Plague of London?”

     “Well, as an example of books that are black, and red and…”

     “Give me a moment,” I said.

     I went into my writing hut and these characters, this plot, just exploded. It was like I was being tapped on the shoulder by people, ‘I’m Captain Coke. I’m a highwayman. Known as Captain Cock. You should put me in your book.” So I did. And the backdrop of the plague was just too darkly delicious to not want to write about.

 

2: Recently you have written standalone books, How many books in this series?

At the moment, two. I am working of ‘Fire’ right now. Same characters, different dramatic backdrop.

 

 

3: Once again the redoubtable Absolute family make an appearance, do you have a conscious reason for the link (or just for fun)?

     It’s mainly fun – but I like the way Wilbur Smith has linked up all the Courtenays. I also love a certain blood continuity – this is what happened to a beloved character’s family. That way, in a way, the character himself or herself lives on.

 

 4: Do you have a clear Absolute family tree to refer to and help guide you to other stories to write?

   No. Well, maybe a vague one in my head. I’d like to link up Lucy’s son with Monmouth’s rebellion, then his son will be Jack’s dad, Mad Jamie. That would be a hoot!

 

5: Where do the inspiration for your characters come from: EG: Pitman & Captain Coke/Cock.

      Gosh! I don’t know really. They are inspired by so many things: modern cop dramas; cavaliers vs. roundheads. I liked the idea of old enemies uniting in a common cause. Of a world turned upside down, enabling a gentleman and a working class man to come together in mutual respect. 

 

6: With a subject and period like this, how do you get into the writing flow? Is it like getting into Character on stage?

      I suppose I do act out my characters a little. Though its more a mumble at my desk rather than striding about, shouting. But yes, I use acting techniques to create them and drive the action. What does she want now? What’s stopping her getting it?

 

7: Your books have been some of my favourite reads over the last few years (especially Shakespeare’s Rebel) what has been your personal favourite? And what has been the biggest challenge (and why?)

      I always find that question hard to answer. They are all my children, I love them all for different reasons. ‘Rebel’ was very personal, with the whole Shakespeare/Hamlet/sword thing. Also, fathers and sons move much of my writing now as I have one, am one.

     ‘Vlad, the Last Confession’ was the hardest because the subject matter was so dark. I didn’t want to whitewash a killer but I also didn’t want to depict a psychopath. Also the history was so complex how was I to render it entertainingly without giving lessons, which I abhor. Hitting on the structure, the ‘confession’in the dungeon centred it for me. It was a huge technical and emotional challenge, so I learned a huge amount doing it. I think it leapt me forward as a writer.

 

8: As you are located in Canada, can we look forward to a tour for the latest book? (will there be signed copies anywhere?)

 I hope so! I love the UK and seem to be writing about London more and more. No plans … however if you get lots of people to buy Plague… I’ll sign happily!

 

 9: Normally my last question is a fun one, who would you invite to dinner… but for your good self… If you could have any 4 people from history to walk the boards with you, or watch the play whom would they be any why?

Very good question! I think I’d like to play Laertes to Burbage’s Hamlet, with Will in the wings… then have Vlad the Impaler join us for a pint or seven at the Spoon and Alderman afterwards. That’s a conversation I’d like to partake in!

Buy from Amazon

Buy from W H Smiths (cheapest UK Price)

 

Many thanks for visiting

(Parm)

 

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Filed under C C Humphreys, Historical Fiction

C C Humphreys: Plague (Review)

C C Humphreys

CC H

aka Chris Humphreys

Author Bio (and web site)

Book Description

Buy from Amazon

Buy from WH Smiths

Buy from Waterstones

Plague

London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God’s vengeance in his heart.

Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men.
But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they’ve been . . . sacrificed.
Now, with the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.

Review

Plague for me was always going to be a difficult book by this exceptional author. His last title Shakespear’s Rebel was just so amazingly well written, researched and composed, it became my book of the year last year, a book that had more than just writing passion, but I felt a little of the authors soul poured onto the pages. How can you follow that? Can you follow that?

Plague isn’t in the same league as Shakespear’s Rebel, but once again C C Humphreys has served up a real reading treat. The book very patiently paints a vivid and real London of 1665 (the dirt and squalor, but also the families who live there), adding in the authors usual realistic and dramatic main characters, developing the plot introducing each character carefully and fully. Moving carefully from a Highwayman, to a dangerous killer who is every bit as nasty as Jack the ripper, to a thief catcher of one of the boroughs of London. It doesn’t end there, some big great players walk upon this stage, including the King, I really enjoyed seeing the king portrayed in the book, his love of theater giving the impression of a frivolous king, but clearly hidden under that a sharp and keen mind. As ever I enjoyed the introduction of one of the Absolute Clan, the link that ties the authors books together.

Writing a book about the Plague is also a tough ask, its a seriously dark period of time, and a dark subject matter. Chris manages to imbue it with something different, the plague is happening, but it isn’t the key driver for the plot. There is instead a Psychotic and dangerous killer loose in London, a dangerous plot brewing,  families struggling to survive the danger that is daily life, let alone the plague. All of this we see though the eyes of Captain Coke and Pitman the thief and the thief catcher. So while this isn’t a new Shakespeare Rebel, it is a plot with many many levels with characters real, but for me having a hint of the stage about them, not that i mind that, in fact i enjoy it in this author books because its coupled with such vivid portrayal of the time, place and circumstances (the many sub plots).

So as ever I highly recommend this book, this time to fans of Historical Fiction, Crime, and books that are just brilliantly written.

(Parm)

Other Books

Series
French Executioner
1. The French Executioner (2002)
2. Blood Ties (2002)
The French ExecutionerBlood Ties
Jack Absolute
1. Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770s (2003)
2. The Blooding of Jack Absolute (2004)
3. Absolute Honour (2006)
Jack Absolute: The 007 of the 1770sThe Blooding of Jack AbsoluteAbsolute Honour
Novels
Vlad: The Last Confession (2008)
The Hunt of the Unicorn (2011)
A Place Called Armageddon (2011)
Shakespeare’s Rebel (2013)
Plague (2014)
Vlad: The Last ConfessionThe Hunt of the UnicornA Place Called ArmageddonShakespeare's RebelPlague

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Filed under C C Humphreys, Crime, Historical Fiction, Thrillers