Henry V
Quick Text

Author: William Shakespeare
Script adaptation: John McDonald
Artists: Neill Cameron and Bambos
Classical Comics
RRP: 9.99
ISBN: 978 1 906332 02 0
Available 05 November 2007

The Bard's historic tale of war and peace between England and France during the reign of Henry V is presented as a graphic novel. Experience the Battle of Agincourt as never before - and fully appreciate this decisive chapter in the history of the realm...

Henry V is Classical Comics's first book in its range of graphic novel adaptations. Future releases will include Macbeth (February 2008), Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (Spring 2008), Charles Dickens's Great Expectations (Summer 2008), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (Summer 2008), Romeo and Juliet (Summer 2008), Richard III (Autumn 2008) and Dickens's A Christmas Carol (October 2008).

The idea behind this series of books is to make the classics available to the masses. Because the language in Shakespeare's plays takes a little getting used to - at which point a lot of the younger generation will just give up - Henry V is available in three different versions. While the artwork remains the same, you can buy the Original Text version, Plain Text or Quick Text.

This means that everyone can find a version that is appropriate to them. If you want to read the Bard's words as originally written then the Original Text is the release to opt for; Plain Text has the play translated into plain English; while the Quick Text version sees the full story reproduced but with reduced dialogue for easier reading.

To be honest though, if you are coming at this play as a Shakespeare novice, or buying it for a young adult who is about to start studying it at school, I'd strongly advise picking up all three so that each version can be studied in order to gain a greater appreciation of the play. The Quick Text reads like your typical graphic novel, allowing the reader to grasp the story and characters; the Plain Text allows you to make the jump to a more complex reading of the play; and the Original Text throws you straight into Shakespeare's original dialogue.

The Quick Text version also includes a more simplified synopsis at the start of the collection than is included in the Plain Text and Original Text editions. The back of each collection also includes additional information on William Shakespeare; King Henry V; The Battle of Agincourt; graphic novel page creation; the Globe theatre; and Shakespeare today.

The idea behind this collection is so simple that I'm surprised that it hasn't been done before. This is an essential purchase for all who want to get to grips with Shakespeare's original play.

Nick Smithson

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