Monday, December 19, 2011

IAGO By David Snodin

Some 30 years ago the idea for David Snodin’s first novel came to him - it would be about Iago, Shakespeare’s most infamous villian.  What became of Iago following the deaths of Othello, Desdamona, his own wife, and countless others?  What if he were to escape from his Venetian prison?

    A former script writer on the BBC’s series of Shakespeare’s plays Snodin was well familiar with the Bard’s work.  Yet, it was quite a journey from his original idea to this richly imagined, adventure packed book.  And, it is an epic journey for readers from the first to the last page of Iago, a thoroughly entertaining, gloriously detailed tale.

    Gentile Stornello is a highly intelligent Venetian teenager, “His face might have been deemed pretty if he’d been a girl.  He had a full mouth and a small nose....His eyes “were large and green-blue, with long pale lashes.  If people cared to look into them, and few did, they would have discerned a keen and thoughtful intelligence.”  He will need every iota of his intelligence and strength he did not know he possessed to survive the plot into which he is drawn.

    The plan, devised by Venice’s chief inquisitor, Annibale Malipiero, is to capture Iago, draw a confession from him, and most importantly of all for Malipiero to be able to divine the motivations behind Iago’s crimes.  Unlike his fellow inquisitors Malipiero does not care to use brute force but rather to understand what would cause another human being to be the perpetrator of so much evil.

    Gentile would much rather spend his time with his tutor studying or dreaming about a beautiful girl he has seen, Franceschina.  But, he has no choice for he is thrown into a cell with Iago and eventually escapes with him.  Thus begins a chase across Italy as they battle to keep their freedom.  During the days filled with bloodshed and near capture readers learn more about Iago - his strengths and his weaknesses, his gifts for seduction, manipulation, coercion until at last the secrets of his life are revealed.

    With a love for Italy, history and drama I found Iago a tremendously exciting,  satisfying read.  There are a myriad of characters - some humorous, others black-hearted, yet all are so artfully drawn that they spring full blown from the pages. Iago has everything -  love, war, humor and enough conspiracies to consume all your midnight oil.  Highly recommended.

    - Gail Cooke

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