AN ANTIC DISPOSITION: A Medieval Mystery

Alan Gordon, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (337p) ISBN 978-0-312-30096-8

In his fifth medieval mystery (after 2003's Widow of Jerusalem ), Gordon puts a delightful and original spin on Shakespeare's Hamlet: Prince of Denmark . In 1204, the members of the Fool's Guild are in hiding in the Black Forest. To while away an evening, Father Gerald, an elderly priest, recounts the efforts of an upstart Danish lord, the prototype of Hamlet's father, to win the Danish throne in the mid-12th century. Father Gerald relates his story through the eyes of the court jester, Yorick, who is adored by the lord's young son, Amleth. Father Gerald's fellow fool, Theophilus, tells the second half of the story, providing an insightful, alternative version of what happens in Hamlet , at the same time revealing more of his own background than was previously known. Gordon deftly shifts point-of-view among his principals, each of whom expands and reimagines the events in the Shakespeare play. What emerges is a riveting tale of ambition, subterfuge, betrayal and revenge. It takes a bold author to rewrite the Bard, but Gordon has made an excellent job of it. (Jan. 30)

Forecast: Fans of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead will have to check this one out.

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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