A Man of Honor, or Horatio’s Confessions
by J.A. Nelson
Publication Date: December 9, 2019
Quill Point Press
Paperback, eBook & AudioBook; 414 pages
Winner of two silver medals
Best First Book, Fiction
Best Cover, Fiction
Awarded by the IBPA (2020)
2020 Notable Indie, Top 100 – Best Indie Book Awards, Shelf Unbound
Finalist, Literary Fiction
14th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards (2020)
A Man of Honor tells the fictional tale of how one man’s oath gave birth to the legend of Hamlet.
How far would you go to keep a deathbed promise?
Surrounded by the bodies of slain monarchs, a dying prince extracts a promise from his friend, Horatio: “Tell my story.”
Rival kings of warring nations strive to lay claim to the throne, now vacant, but what will happen to the people who live there, at Helsingør’s Krogen Castle? How will Horatio preserve his honor and the prince’s legacy while surviving this murderous kingdom and the men who would rule it?
Despite the odds and threats against him, Horatio persists, weaving the story of his dear friend into the fabric of one of their oldest and most revered medieval texts.
But when a nefarious Spaniard thwarts his plans, Horatio must once again risk everything to fulfill his oath.
With the help of some unexpected allies in the form of Margrete, a courageous lady-in-waiting, and Lanier, a disgraced French nobleman, Horatio undertakes this perilous quest that will lead him on a journey none of them could have ever predicted, to a place none of them ever thought they would see.
And after their hard-fought journey will it all be for naught?
Will Hamlet’s glory be Horatio’s downfall?
“Like a train, A MAN OF HONOR’s narrative builds speed and takes off into an often gripping adventure of love,war, and discovery. Author J.A. Nelson’s novel follows in the tradition of historical fiction. Nelson creates a beautiful but terrifying sixteenth century where numerous factions struggle for power and influence. The main characters are loyal but fallible, and the reader identifies with their struggle to keep moving forward–to finish what they’ve started…. Nelson has developed a timeless story…. A MAN OF HONOR may be set in a distant time and place, but Horatio’s search for the truth about his late friend, Hamlet, is an internal journey of discovery to which many readers will relate.” – IndieReader Reviews
“With its literary flourishes and exciting scenes, A Man of Honor addresses ethical questions in fascinating ways….Setting and moods…capture the flavor of Nordic sagas…. A literary novel featuring taut action and strong characters who address questions about the nature of integrity.” – Clarion Reviews
“The story of Hamlet survives, truthfully told…. Horatio is the perfect character to carry on Hamlet’s story…. An intriguing twist…. Among the pages of an adventure is a story of one man’s commitment to his sense of honor and duty, as well as the importance and worth of legends.” – The US Review
Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Most of you know the tale; specifically, it’s ending. Hamlet accepts Laertes’ invitation to fence. Laertes’ stabs Hamlet with a poison-laced blade, Hamlet stabs Laertes and King Claudius with said blade, Queen Gertrude drinks from the poisoned cup and all die, with Hamlet requesting Horatio to tell his story. And then what?
Then enters Man of Honor.
Man of Honor continues where Shakespeare left off; Horatio holding a dying Hamlet, while Fortinbras marches in and starts demanding answers. The book then picks up Horatio’s character and journeys with him as he tries to honor the memory of his friend and fulfill his oath, all while avoiding death by Fortinbras or the damnation of his own soul.
Firstly, the attention to historical detail made this history nerd very, very happy. Each scene was beautifully, skillfully drawn, allowing the reader the opportunity to step in and see the surroundings with ease. It was ridiculously effortless to experience what was happening around the characters. Secondly, I greatly enjoyed how the characters were fleshed out, specifically Horatio and Fortinbras. In their own way, each character was aware of misplacing their every next step, though for quite different reasons. At first, I was a little put-off by how often Horatio obsessed over the future of his soul. But as the story progressed, the more I realized that it was precisely because J.A. Nelson had written Horatio to be so beautifully human, that he had to obsess over this conflict, as humans are wont to do. Which quite honestly, had me enjoying him all the more.
Bottom Line: An intriguing blend of classic and history, legend and truth. A definite recommend!
About the Author
J. A. Nelson’s passion for exploring connections between history, literature, and evidence in written texts has shaped her life—from a BA (Occidental College) and MA (The George Washington University) in cultural studies to a two-decade career at the National Archives of the United States, working with historical documentary treasures and helping people access unique stories in those records. Ms. Nelson is a native of Culver City, CA, a Los Angeles suburb. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia. A Man of Honor, or Horatio’s Confessions is her debut novel.
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