The Marlen of Prague: Christopher Marlowe and the City of Gold by Angeli Primlani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“There are always islands like Prague, and they are always in peril.… You are sworn to protect such places.…”
Oh hell. I had sworn exactly that. This is what comes from joining too many secret societies, you mix up the specifics.
The story opens when sorcery in England is used to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588, leaving Christopher Marlowe, a magically gifted playwright, shattered emotionally. Marlow narrates the story, and he is a delight: charming, witty, sophisticated, and entirely aware of how dire his situation is. The novel is more backstabbing than swashbuckling, and more treachery than sorcery — for a good reason.
As history tells us, Europe is slowly sliding toward the unspeakable horror that will be the Thirty Year’s War. The characters in the novel know something is coming that will lay waste to much of Europe. Can it be stopped? Marlowe gets himself into an increasingly complex web of secrets, deadly politics, and magic — magic too powerful and awful to attempt again.
Author Angeli Primlani spent time in Prague and in the theater, which lends an almost tactile depth to the writing. She also knows her history and creates a fast-moving novel about desperate people trying to save the world from those who have the means to ruin it even without magic.