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I, Iago    by Nicole Galland Amazon.com order for
I, Iago
by Nicole Galland
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William Morrow, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Othello's Iago is often considered Shakespeare's greatest villain, but how did he get that way? Nicole Galland attempts a possible and plausible explanation in I, Iago.

Growing up as the youngest son of a merchant in Venice, Iago learns early that honesty is not a valuable trait in Venetian society. However, he finds a way to use his blunt truthfulness to his advantage. Using his penchant for telling the truth and his wiles, he quickly rises in the ranks of the military while wooing the fair Emilia, who loves him for his un-Venetian nature. His honesty also endears him to the new general, Othello, a Moor whom the rest of Venice looks upon more as an oddity than a human. However, Iago has another side to him, a fierce, jealous side and this is what eventually leads to his downfall.

Galland starts I, Iago with a humorous tale from Iago's childhood that quickly endears the reader to the main character. The plot then wanders through his formative years and early military service, picking up speed again once he meets Emilia. The pace really ramps up as the narrative starts to parallel Othello.

However, as Galland tries to mesh the Iago she created with Shakespeare's, things start to get a little muddled, and Iago quickly goes from a sympathetic, understandably outraged human to the monster the literary world knows him as. This abrupt about-face really pulls the reader away from the character, hindering the end of the novel.

All in all, I, Iago is an interesting take on Othello that fans of the play will enjoy immersing themselves in. For the original parts, Nicole Galland shows expertise in historical fiction.

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