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Literature / A Midsummer Tempest

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A Midsummer Tempest is a fantasy novel by Poul Anderson.

In Julius Caesar, a clock chimes. Chiming clocks were a medieval invention — at least in our world. Anderson deduced that in the world where William Shakespeare is the Great Historian, technology advanced more quickly than in ours, and so tells a story where the Industrial Revolution and the English Civil War are occuring at the same time, and Prince Rupert is off to recover Prospero's books from where he drowned them, with the help of Oberon and Titania.

Tropes found in this work

  • Alternate History
  • Answers to the Name of God: When Jennifer exclaims "Dear God," Will says another Person holds that post.
  • Babies Ever After: In the Dénouement, Jennifer is looking forward to this.
  • The Cavalier Years: And, indeed, the lead character is a quintessential cavalier.
  • The Chase: Chasing the escaped Rupert is half the book.
  • The Dandy: Rupert angrily rejects apologies for giving him commoner's clothing while he's prisoner; he's not a popinjay.
  • Distressed Dude: Prince Rupert is captured in the opening scene.
  • Empathic Environment: Jennifer complains of the lack of this: when Prince Rupert observed that Parliament might order him executed, it was in a raging storm, but the next morning is a bright sunshiny day, although he is still in mortal danger.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: One Puritan sympathesizes with those poor oppressed souls in France who want to purify the Church.
  • Forgets to Eat: Rupert, after he makes his ring fail.
  • Friend or Foe?: Trying to reach the royalist forces brings up great fears of this being a problem; Rupert thinks he should not try to cut his hair so he can prove who he is, quickly.
  • Funetik Aksent: The comic-relief sidekick, following Shakespearean tradition, has a thick regional accent represented phonetically.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Because this is a world where Shakespeare's plays are word-for-word true, much of the dialog is in iambic pentameter blank verse.
  • Improbable Age: Prince Rupert's (historically-accurate) extreme youth for his military accomplishments is commented on by his captor.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: The Old Phoenix Tavern, wherein Rupert meets three travellers from other timelines, one of whom deduces the basis of Rupert's universe and exposits it for the benefit of the audience.
  • Knighting: When Prince Rupert returns to King Charles, the king immediately knights the soldier who accompanied him. (He first asks him to swear loyalty to the throne — and then explains it's just part of the ceremony and not a doubt of his loyalty.)
  • Last Stand: Rupert goes to join his king in hopes of helping him, and if it fails, for this trope.
  • Love Potion: The Vamp uses a potion to lure Prince Rupert into her bed. Unfortunately for him and the heroine, the magical rings they owned were driven by The Power of Love, and this broke them.
  • Modern Mayincatec Empire: One of the crosstime travellers in the Old Phoenix Tavern mentions having visited one.
  • Offered the Crown: Prince Rupert recounts how his father was offered the crown of Bohemia — and held it briefly, until military defeat drove him off. Although this is an alternate history, that was taken from Real Life.
  • The Power of Love: Drives the magical rings that Oberon and Titania give Prince Rupert and Jennifer.
  • Royal Blood: Prince Rupert is the main character, and he's work in defence of King Charles, the rightful ruler. Although the magic they work to save him carefully explains that it cares about the land and the king only in as much as the king helps the land, once it has done so, it brings down the Roundheads.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Too many to count to William Shakespeare, obviously.
    • At one point, the protagonist randomly meets D'Artagnan. (20 Years After, the first sequel to The Three Musketeers, is set in around the same time and also involves an attempt to help out Charles's side.)
    • The last scene in the Inn Between Worlds is a crowd scene of fictional character cameos.
  • Spell Book: Prince Rupert uses magical books to win the English Civil War for the Royalists. However, since they are Prospero's books, he must first find where Prospero drowned them and then bring them up from the seabottom.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Jennifer dresses as a boy to escape her captors.
  • Tears of Joy: Jennifer cries for joy on being reunited with Rupert.
  • They Have the Scent!: They get the dogs on Rupert and Will's trail.
  • Virgin Power: Prince Rupert is forced to bring Jennifer with him to a battlefield because he is traveling by magic, and the presence of a virgin is the only thing allowing the spell to be strong enough to travel that way.