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Sovereign by C J Sansom

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EC2
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Location: Nottingham UK
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Sovereign by C J Sansom

Postby EC2 » Fri April 30th, 2010, 5:32 pm

The third in C.J.Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series. Although it is a historical whodunnint, don't let that put you off if you are not a whodunnit sort of person. This is excellent all round historical fiction and Sansom is a very accomplished novelist indeed.
What's it about?
'Autumn 1541 and Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to attend an extravagant submission by his rebellious subjects in York'.
Matthew Shardlake is in York himself because as a lawyer he has been employed to process local petitions to the King. He has also, reluctantly, agreed to keep his eye on the welfare of an important but dangerous prisoner - at Archbishop Cranmer's request.
When a York glazier (employed in stripping stained glass from church windows as part of the Dissolution), is murdered, Shardlake finds himself caught up in the investigation and the waters get very muddy and very bloody very quickly! There are certain papers doing the rounds that could threaten the King's very right to rule and more suspects than the reader can shake a stick at. As a sideline to the main thread, Queen Katherine Howard is under suspicion of carrying on with the young men of the court and Shardlake becomes embroiled in this too, much to his concern and to his detriment.
Sovereign is a highly entertaining and satisfying historical novel, but it's not for the squeamish. It does involve some scenes of torture and a rather nasty description of how a prisoner goes about poisoning himself without his gaolors finding out. That's not a complaint but an observation for anyone thinking about reading this book. You know your own squeam level! It is gritty and dark. It's also excellent. 5 stars at the high end of 5 stars!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Leo62
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Location: London
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Postby Leo62 » Fri April 30th, 2010, 9:49 pm

Glad you enjoyed this EC. I've loved the whole Shardlake series, but this one's my favourite. It combines elements of whodunnit, political thriller and quality historical fiction, seemlessly blended into a satisfying tale. And most satisfying of all Sansom's creations is the sympathetic, intelligent and vulnerable character of Matthew Shardlake.

Funny, I don't remember it being all that gory, apart from a certain incident involving shards of stained glass...

The next book in the series, Heartstone, is due out in September. :D
listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go
ee cummings

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
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Postby EC2 » Fri April 30th, 2010, 10:02 pm

Leo, I was hoping it was going to be out sooner for my DH's birthday in May. I buy them as pressies for him, then get to read them later! Never mind, it will do for Christmas.
I agree with everything you say. I used to love mysteries a la Cadfael, but I've moved on from them a bit. So it's good to have something like this which has the mystery element but is so much more. It's like a historical novel that just happens to have a mystery involved. I liked the development of Barak and Tamsin in this one too. I'd love to see these televised!
Les proz e les vassals

Souvent entre piez de chevals

Kar ja li coard n’I chasront



'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'


Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Leo62
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Location: London
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Postby Leo62 » Sat May 1st, 2010, 10:11 am

"EC2" wrote: I'd love to see these televised!


Me too :D There was talk a while back of an adaptation starring Kenneth Branagh, but then he went off to do Wallander. :(
listen:there's a hell

of a good universe next door;let's go

ee cummings

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cw gortner
Bibliophile
Location: San Francisco,CA
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Postby cw gortner » Sun May 2nd, 2010, 3:32 am

I love these books, too. His last one Revelation was not as well received but I thought it was the creepiest one yet, with a Biblically inspired serial killer and a deranged youth trapped in an asylum. Shardlake faces some very difficult moments and realizations in it.

I'm looking forward to Heartstone.
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!
THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
[B]THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN
[/B]

www.cwgortner.com

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun May 2nd, 2010, 7:25 am

It was the stolen teeth that got me in Revelation. Imagine going around clacking someone elses's teeth in wooden moulds- errk! Not to mention the poor people who woke up toothless--

I really enjoyed a Sansom short story recently in one of the Medieval Murderers series. The MM are a collective of historical mystery writers who choose a theme and each contribute a story based on for for their hist myst books. In this one Sansom sets his piece in a world post-climate change disaster, and its climax takes place in New Zealand (or at least the bits of it still above sea level :) In which Sansom proves he's equally adept at writing excellent futuristic fiction as well as HF.

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EC2
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Location: Nottingham UK
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Postby EC2 » Sun May 2nd, 2010, 10:11 am

I've got something to look forward to then C.W. and Annis - LOL! I have Revelation on the bookshelf but I don't like to go into an author one after the other. I like to take a break of several books in between, so I'll probably come back to Revelation in a couple of months, and then read Heartstone after the DH - i.e. after Christmas!
Les proz e les vassals

Souvent entre piez de chevals

Kar ja li coard n’I chasront



'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'


Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



www.elizabethchadwick.com

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell & The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Sun May 2nd, 2010, 11:06 am

I've come across the wooden dentures before, can't remember what book it was but an old lady was quite cheerfully wearing someone else's teeth, I think it was fairly common practice in those days - in fact I've got a feeling that it might have been the grandmother in "Dark Fire" who had the teeth. And annis, if I remember rightly, they weren't averse to stealing teeth from corpses to make up dentures!
Currently reading "The Silent Companions" by Laura Purcell & The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

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cw gortner
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Location: San Francisco,CA
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Postby cw gortner » Mon May 3rd, 2010, 1:50 am

Ugh, that's right! I'd forgotten the dentures. I remember vividly that scene in the hut by the Thames, when they find one of the victims - it was like something out of the movie "Seven."
THE QUEEN'S VOW available on June 12, 2012!

THE TUDOR SECRET, Book I in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles
[B]THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI
THE LAST QUEEN
[/B]



www.cwgortner.com

Eigon
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Location: Hay-on-Wye, Town of Books
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Postby Eigon » Mon June 7th, 2010, 7:36 pm

I've just finished Dark Fire and it was, indeed, the grandmother who had the wooden false teeth.
Now looking out for the rest of the series....


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