- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1540 KB
- Print Length: 662 pages
- Publisher: Macmillan; Reprints edition (15 August 2006)
- Sold by: Macmillan (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004S5FWKG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 1,262 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,719 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Sovereign: A Shardlake Novel 3 (The Shardlake Series) Kindle Edition
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About the Author
From the Back Cover
Autumn, 1541. King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to attend an extravagant submission by his rebellious subjects in York.
Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. In addition to his legal work, processing local petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission for the Archbishop Cranmer - to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator who is to be returned to London for interrogation.
But the murder of a York glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. And when Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret documents which could threaten the Tudor throne, a chain of events unfolds that will lead to Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age . . .
'Sansom deserves as wide a readership as P. D. James, Ruth Rendell, Ian Rankin and Minette Walters' Independent
'The best so far . . . Sansom has the perfect mixture of novelistic passion and historical detail' Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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Top international reviews
On the plus side, Ransom's evocation of the period is wonderful, and Shardlake is brilliant, flawed and facnating protagonist. Now ably assisted by Barak.
As an author Sansom seems the master of the unexpected, and continually presents a twist in the plot just when you thought everything had been solved. And not being steeped in English history, I find myself regularly searching additional facts regarding what is woven throughout the novels. So far I've not come across any factual errors. At the same time I'm adding to my understanding of sixteenth century England.
I'd recommended it for any fan of reputable historical fiction.
The setting is the Progress - Henry VIII, his little girl-queen Catherine, a vast array of courtiers, 1,000 soldiers, cooks, and every possible artisan, travelling through England - to impress York's rebellious subjects, and receive their pleas for forgiveness following the Pilgrimage of Grace when an army of 30,000 had been tricked into surrender.
This book is enormously convincing in its detail: not reporting events so much as evoking them, with all the sensory details which make CJSansom's books so compelling - from the cold winds filling York's great church as the glass is removed to be melted down...to the rank smell and sound of caged animals before the bear-baiting - symbolic of the casual cruelty which humans find normal.
'Sovereign' truly is a tour de force - the scale of this great Progress, 'spreading like a stain across the countryside'; the logistics of providing for several thousand people when food, drink, tented accommodation, stabling for the multitude of horse must all be found; the huge presence of King Henry VIII; all these are wonderfully evoked - as is the plotting, greed, untrustworthiness of all the main players...among whom Matthew Shardlake carries out his precarious and increasingly disillusioned commission.
Spectacularly readable, I defy anyone to put this book down.
Henry is making a Progress in the North. A conspirator, Sir Edward Broderick, is being sent from York to the Tower of London and Shardlake is told to ensure he arrives safely within the Tower walls. However, shortly after arriving in York, Shardlake hears a scream and finds a glazier has been killed. Before he dies, he tells Shardlake, “no child of Henry and Catherine Howard can ever be true heir.” Unwillingly, Shardlake is told to investigate by Maleverer; a crony of his old enemy Richard Rich. Soon, Shardlake is trapped in an unenviable situation – forced to deal with a conspiracy which strikes at the very heart of the succession to the throne, embroiled in treason and with his life in increasing danger, whilst also having to try to keep Broderick alive and well in order to face torture in London.
The characters in this novel are a mix of real and fictional, but they are all so well cast, that it is impossible to say which is which. There is the sadistic jailer, Radwinter, Jennet Marlin, a member of the Queen’s servants, young Tamasin Reedbourne, who catches Barak’s eye, Lady Rochester – former wife of George Boleyn – the new young Queen Catherine, who is way out of her depth, the arrogant young men who surround her, including Culpepper and Dereham, and the elderly lawyer, Giles Wrenne, who befriends Shardlake. Indeed, Shardlake needs a friend in this book. With Barak busy being in love, under pressure from Maleverer and Rich, with several attempts on his life and humiliated by King Henry himself, this really makes you face the reality of the Tudor world. We are taken behind the pomp to the backstage of Court life, from the grandeur of the King to the vicious reality of power; even to the real fear and horror of torture in the dungeons beneath the Tower itself. A wonderful read in a brilliant series.
Along with his mission to assist with a legal presentation to the king he is also asked to supervise the 'comfort' of a highly treasonous man called Broderick in relation to another plot to overthrow the king. This man and his past relation to these plots opens up a whole can of worms involving some-one called Blaybourne. Not wishing to add spoilers suffice to say this theory was explored thoroughly in The Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard and there certainly is evidence to support the claims made in that book and the story here. I have to admit I didn't like The Thwarted Queen when I read it but in hindsight it does open up the long held theory of the right-full line to the throne of England so perhaps a read at that first before this might be a good idea.
Along the lines of the story is the downfall of Queen Catherine, Culpepper and Dereham when it is discovered that all 3 were/are involved in sexual relations past and present.
Needless to say Shardlake and Barak, his faithful assistant from the past have their work cut out as several attempts are made on Shardlake's life and the intrigue continues as more and more people are murdered along the way to silence the suspicions surrounding the plot to overthrow the king.
This book certainly was a complete eye-opener for me as it dealt with several events I had been blissfully unaware of like the shear cruelty and brutality of those times, the complete lack of sanitation, the greed and corruption on such a grand scale after the dissolution amongst others, and some shed much light on that period in our history involving The Pilgrimage of Grace and The Great Progress. Both events must have been magnificent in their own bizarre way and much planning must have gone in to each event to make both happen the way they did and give the results that they did.
Once again I am in awe at the very thorough research Mr Sansom has gone to to bring such a high calibre book to our attention.
Thank you Sir for a riveting read. I now look forward to Revelation, the 4th in the series. Highly recommended.
This books also takes Shardlake out of the London milieu we are used to, and places him in the half-alien city of York, a hotbed of conspiracy and hatred of the Tudors. Ably assisted by his side-kick John Barak, Shardlake must steer a course between getting murdered, been seen to be disloyal or traitorous, personal humiliation and failing in a tough job for his new protector, Archbishop Cranmer. John does not help by engaging in a love affair with one of the Queen's servants, a Queen who is herself flirting with suspicion of adultery and sexual promiscuity.
I did find the last sequence of the journey back to London and the eventual denouement a bit tedious, with the ending somewhat telegraphed in advance. The author might have wrapped things up in York, at the cost of the very dramatic scenes at the end, some involving the Tower of London and its torture chamber. However, the sense of total immersion in the period and Sansom's vivid narrative makes up for that to a large extent.
I have no hesitation in recommending his as not only a "rattling good yarn", but also highly educational historically.
Yes, I enjoyed the story, but this time, the novel took an eternity to get going, spending far too much time in rain-swept Yorkshire waiting for the King's progress to arrive.
The thin central plot didn't lend itself to 650+ pages and there were fewer twists than normal.Indeed,the identity of key villains was easy to spot,which made the book less rewarding.
I did enjoy the historical sub-plot around Catherine Howard, but I felt the spark of earler works was absent-maybe I was missing key characters such as Guy or the sights and smells of London, which makes only a brief appearance.
An OK book, but there are better historical crime thrillers out there (Sansom's Dissolution and Revelation and Clement's Revenger)
It gives a good account of Henry VIII "progress" to the city with Queen Catherine (Howard) just before she was disgraced and eventually beheaded on Henry's orders.
As usual there is a subplot going on with conspiritors trying to discredit Henry's right to the throne, from a long ago admission that Henry was actually the grandson of an archer of the kings household who had a dalliance with Cecilly Neville, wife of the duke of York and mother of Edward VI and Richard III.
Matthew Shardlake is once again sent on a mission he does not want for Cranmer to keep alive a traitor, so that he will be well enough for the torture he will have to endure in the tower. Only for Matthew to end up in the tower himself on a trumped up charge of one of his fellow lawyers, in a grudge for not drooping a case!
I just loved this book, twists and turns with every turn of the page. It had you guessing right to the end
The author is an expert in the period which is why some of the anachronisms jar a bit -- I'm pretty sure that small portable timepieces and clocks were not available for at least another hundred years and certainly not for poor monks and gatekeepers. There are a few others, they don't really spoil the narrative although the one that drives me wild and has me leaping around is "lunch'. Of course for the sake of a good read modern English needs to be used, but some words are, in my view, best avoided as they stick out, and I think this is one. "Luncheon" may have started to be used at the time of these novels but 'lunch' is early Victorian. All a rather silly nit pick I know, so don't let that put you off as they are otherwise brilliant novels.