AUTHOR: C. J. Sansom
DATE PUBLISHED: 2006
DATE READ: December 2007
NOTES: The third Mathew Shardlake novel is excellent. The lawyer this time finds himself sent north to join with King Henry’s Progress to the North in 1541. As well as helping with some legal petitions he is also required to oversee the welfare of a prisoner, Broderick, who is being held in York before being sent to London for further questioning – and a certain death.
But nothing is as it seems and a multi-layered plot of heresy, greed and fanaticism ensues as Shardlake uncovers a conspiracy that could unseat the King. The Tudor England portrayed is not one of elegant court manners and devoted commoners. Instead he reveals a brutal and harsh regime with constantly changing mores – a regime in which just the knowledge of certain information could lead to execution.
The logistics of the Progress in the North are superbly well drawn, as are the scenes in the boat and in the Tower of London. His assistant Barak has developed well as a character and is a good counterweight to Shardlake. Although over 600 pages it is a very fast read – I found it hard to put down and it made a wonderful post-Christmas read.
Surely this can’t be the last we will hear of Matthew Shardlake? He is young enough for more adventures – and lots more conspiracies and political chicanery to come with Edward VI, Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor.