Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I, Iago by Nicole Galland

One of my favorite things as a book junkie is discovering new authors to feed my habit. In my bookseller days, this discovery happened in talking to customers and shelving new arrivals, which usually meant all of my bookseller income was fed directly back into the store in purchases. Nicole Galland was a bookseller discovery of mine back in 2006 when Revenge of the Rose was released.  

Revenge was fantastic. A truly fun and amusing historical read that made Galland a stand out for me. So when the opportunity to review I, Iago came along, I jumped!

Anyone familiar with Othello will know Iago as the antagonist. He devises a plan of revenge after being slighted by Othello, his general and friend. In the end Othello's wife, Desdemona, is dead at Othello's hand. Iago's wife, Emilia, is dead at Iago's hand. Iago murders his childhood friend, Roderigo, and Othello commits suicide. But what led up to the event? What in Iago's past has made him the man who causes all of this grief? That is the Iago Galland presents in her latest.  

Iago pretty much goes with the flow throughout the book. He wants to be in the Navy, his father sends him to artillery school instead. After rising to the top and making a name for himself, Iago's father then uses him to gain support by sending him to join the Army. Not Iago's plan, but he again goes along with his father's wishes and again rises to the top earning an ensign rank early on. At one point Iago tells his wife Emilia that his own merit will get him ahead. And he is wrong. When the lieutenant position opens up, everyone -- including Iago -- believes that Iago is the logical choice. Instead, Cassio is elevated in rank and Iago remains ensign. And this is Iago's breaking point. 

Galland's Iago is manipulative and conniving. He's clever but he's also prone to childish jealousy and his own imagination gets him into trouble -- you know the saying about assuming? Iago does a lot of assuming. I'd say that his plan for revenge against Othello is not completely undeserved. Othello is his friend and relies so heavily on Iago's council that when the general passes him up for promotion without any explanation, Iago's anger seems somewhat justified. His plan gets a little out of control and then a lot out of control before the end of the story.

Having read Galland before, I knew that she would be a worthy one to take on Shakespeare. After all, Shakespeare's work is filled with social commentary and sarcasm through comments that can be taken multiple ways. Galland has mastered this same skill and so tackling Othello's villain, while a task for any writer, seems a little easier for Galland. An ease that ultimately makes I, Iago a highly entertaining read. Galland's writing is smart and her tone is light throughout most of the read. Iago's banter is particularly amusing, especially when he uses his smarts to outwit others. 

Like Revenge of the Rose, I, Iago is a fun read. You don't have to be a Shakespearean scholar to enjoy it -- in fact, you don't have to have any prior knowledge of Othello at all. I, Iago is a complete tale all on its very own.  

For more on Galland, I, Iago, and her other works, you can visit her official blog here. You can also "like" Galland on Facebook and follow her on Twitter


Shooting Stars Mag said...

Oh, this sounds amazing. I really want to read to it. I've actually read Othello and find Iago quite fascinating, so that certainly makes me excited. :)


Becky LeJeune said...

Lauren, I hope you love it! I'm a bit of a Galland fan girl & think everyone should give her a read.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Iago has always been the villain I love to hate so I'm really excited about this book!

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Nicole said...

So tickled to read these comments. Thank you!
I find it especially gratifying to hear Revenge of the Rose praised, as it really bends the rules about historical fiction - it's based very loosely on a rather wise-ass 13th century poem that was not interested in historical accuracy. While I wrote stuff set "a long time ago," I'm not usually writing to the traditional paradigms of historical fiction, and Revenge of the Rose is the most extreme example of that, so it warms my heart when people "get it."

Becky LeJeune said...

@Heather -- Fabulous! Thanks so much!

@Nicole -- Thank you! My first read by any author usually tends to be my favorite and I loved Revenge! I, Iago was equally fantastic in my mind.