Hamlet's revenge was a tale 400 years old when Shakespeare revamped it in Elizabethan tragic verse. Since it is to many the greatest play ever written, a novel based upon the original source material must necessarily seem wildly heretical when it verges from Shakespeare and Treece is written just this kind. All the familiar elements are here, the murder of the king, the marriage of the queen to the murderer, Hamlet's return from abroad, his madness, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and the bloody fifth act. But to all these elements Treece has added giant passions, fiery incidents of demented intensity, sexual acts as from the thews of Thor Thunderbearer and Beowulf. This is our old friend who appears here more callow and grasping, and he kills Amleth in the last chapter. This all takes place in the sixth century. In Britain, Amleth meets King Arthur, who is then Duke. Ophelia is Hamlet's illegitimate half-sister, whom he marries. Queen Gertrude is burnt to death and eaten by swine. And almost no reader will take Treece seriously after he describes the sexual climaxes of Ophelia and Queen Gertrude in a lesbian embrace. But then he has followed Saxus Grammaticus quite closely, the original 12th century source.