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The Armor of Light [Hardcover]

Melissa Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 25.68
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Book Description

October 1997
This is the first hardcover edition of the alternate history novel by Scott and Barnett.

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Product Description

Review

For any student of English litereature or fan of Shakespeare, Sidney or Marlowe, this book is a dream come true. What happens in The Armor of Light is what should have happened.-Pamela Dean Scott and Barnett have a style and an atmosphere in their collaborative work that is distinct from their separate work, without losing any of the separate strengths of each partner. Historical accuracy and historical invention, society and culture, details of dress and costume, drama and action, all highlighted in _The_Armor_of_Light_ It's one of the best fantasy novels. -- David G. Hartwell

This is a good historical fantasy. They play around with the history, saving Sidney from his Dutch wound and Marlowe from his tavern in Deptford, and punched up the magic a lot. Marlowe would have loved that. What's more, they got the language right, they got the characters right, they got the society right, they sure as hell got the clothes right. It's set up like a play, in five sections, and each section does exactly the right thing. Sidney would have approved of it. Robert Greene would have given it a rave review. Cecil would probably have had them both silenced. -- Delia Sherman

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
This is a very well-structured, well-written book set in an alternate version of Queen Elizabeth I's reign. The settings are finely drawn, the characters are engaging, and the plot is gripping. I reread this book about once a year just for the pleasure of it, and I snapped up this hardcover when it came out. If you like alternate history and fantasy, and don't mind them mixed together, read this book. If you just want to read about people living in Elizabethan England, read this book. And if you just have to have any book with Shakespeare as a character... you, too, have some reading ahead of you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I still like it! March 11 1999
Format:Hardcover
I'm the cover illustrator, and I don't always like everything I read. Often, even if I liked a story the first time, I don't like it when I have to read it about the fifth time to check on the color of someone's shirt. Or I start noticing the lapses in historical detail or logic or characterization.
This book I still read for pleasure, even after I finished the cover. I read a lot of alternate history, and this surely ranks among the best.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fantasy as it should be! Aug. 22 1998
By goodston@well.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the best work of historical fantasy, and one of the best works of historical fiction, which I have ever read. Although the universe (an alternate history Elizabethan England where magic works and where Sydney and Marlow survived the events which killed them in our time line) is fantasy, the approach is basic science fiction "what if", extrapolated on a magical rather than physcial technology. Rather than overlaying modern concepts of magic onto their characters and history, the authors present magic as it was understood by the various classes of Tudor England, and in so doing create a world that feels like reality and avoid the one-dimensionality common to much contemporary fantasy. All this, and a great read, too.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like fantasy? Like Elizabethan England? This is for you! June 20 2001
By Tracy L. Benton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a very well-structured, well-written book set in an alternate version of Queen Elizabeth I's reign. The settings are finely drawn, the characters are engaging, and the plot is gripping. I reread this book about once a year just for the pleasure of it, and I snapped up this hardcover when it came out. If you like alternate history and fantasy, and don't mind them mixed together, read this book. If you just want to read about people living in Elizabethan England, read this book. And if you just have to have any book with Shakespeare as a character... you, too, have some reading ahead of you.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I still like it! March 11 1999
By Margaret Organ-Kean - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm the cover illustrator, and I don't always like everything I read. Often, even if I liked a story the first time, I don't like it when I have to read it about the fifth time to check on the color of someone's shirt. Or I start noticing the lapses in historical detail or logic or characterization.
This book I still read for pleasure, even after I finished the cover. I read a lot of alternate history, and this surely ranks among the best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a near hit Nov. 27 2008
By Furio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As many other alternative history works of fiction this book is set in England during the reign of Elizabeth the Great. It was the brightest and yet the most putrid age of British history, a time when history itself could have changed its course: it did, but unfortunately only to a certain extent.
It cannot be a mere chance that so many authors choose this age for their alternative history novels: so many opportunities to make the western world a different place have been wasted then.
(One could add, cursorily, that many fantasy novels seem to be set in an Elizabethan-like kingdom).

These authors seem to have done their research. They give many details about everyday life but they do not overindulge, except perhaps where clothes are concerned; every other real life reference is functional to plot and characterization, not a mean feat indeed.

The plot is interesting, sensible, well contrived. Characters are not as satisfying: Elizabeth is adorable (for a harridan) but everyone else is either shallow or unremarkable or inconsistent or obnoxious for some reason. Sidney is far to obsessed with his protestant faith to be likeable; Marlowe, it goes without saying, could have been a great character but he is such only at times; James is not too bad. All the others play choir when they should have been side kicks. Villains are essentially non existent so that the main characters' very personal demons end by being more interesting.

Writing is professional but not distinguished: several passages are rich of humour or interesting in some way, but there are also problems: the constant shift of POV never signalled by a new paragraph; the constant shift of language register within the same utterance of the same character; some inconsistencies; a wrong use of pluralis maiestatis; some outright grammar mistakes.

Marlowe is a gay character (James is too even if he seems devout to Queen Anne) so gay sex is mentioned but never graphically. The book can be considered safe for teens but I doubt many of them will be interested in the several moral and metaphysical digressions.

This is a nice read, enjoyable and out of print: I recommend you buy it if you find it in some second hand bookstore.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fantasy at its best Nov. 16 2013
By Jo Wyrick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read this book when it originally came out twenty five years ago and I loved it. I still do. Not many books stand up to rereading twenty five years later, but The Armor of Light is still wonderful. This is historical fantasy at its best! It's rich, nuanced, and the plot is intriguing. And this is the best Christopher Marlowe I've read in fiction, hands down!
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