Revenge at Elsinore

Written by John O'Donnell
Review by Richard Tearle

Magnus Eriksson Vasa, second son of a Swedish noble, is sent to Wittenberg University with a mission to fulfil. Well, three missions: disguised as Horatio, a Norwegian student, he has to ensure that a certain monk is kept safe, he must befriend a Danish Prince and he must report on anything he learns. The monk is Martin Luther, the Prince is Hamlet and we have the makings of an intriguing story.

The book is presented as a previously unknown manuscript and it is suggested that it was also Shakespeare’s third, undiscovered source for his soon to become famous play. Indeed, there is more than a nod to the bard with lines like ‘Alas poor Osric, I knew him for a fool‘.

Characterisation is good, the plot moves on at a steady pace and all the major characters are there, most notably the scheming Polonius, ‘Horatio’s’ mentor, along with bouts of Scandinavian history.

My only concern is that the tale is told in archaic, occasionally pastiche style. If you can overcome this, this is a terrific book that I enjoyed very much.