Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sovereign - by C.J. Sansom

This is the third book in the Matthew Shardlake Series (Dissolution and Dark Fire are the previous two). The book is set in the reign of Henry VIII at the time of the Reformation. Matthew is a lawyer in London who in the previous two books has managed to get embroiled in political intrigues. In this installment Matthew is sent to York on two assignments. One is to act as one of the lawyers on Henry's royal progress to York and deal with the petitions from the locals. The other is to ensure that a conspirator against the crown is brought safely to London to be questioned. Yet somehow Matthew finds himself in the middle of a plot against the crown and some deadly court intrigues.

When I first read Dissolution I felt that Sansom was competent and the storyline was ok. In this third installment Sansom has created an intricate story, well written and with as many twists and turns as one can imagine. I couldn't put the book down and wanted to know what would happen with each of the threads of the story. The characters are three dimensional and you can't help but loathe the likes of Sir Richard Rich whilst cheering for the likes of Matthew Shardlake. Also the book is well tied into the period in which it is set. The story of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine Howard provides some of the background events in this novel and known events such as the Pilgrimage of Grace and the creation of the Council of the North contribute to the storyline.

As far as storyline itself goes I truly did not see the last section of the book coming. I won't spoil it by telling you what happens but hope you agree that given how careful Matthew is how unexpected it is. Other than that it is complex enough to keep the reader interested but the twists and turns are not so convoluted as to loose the reader in a mire of words. I found the story addictive and found it hard to put the book down.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in the Tudor period of English history and anyone who enjoys a well written murder mystery/thriller.

**5 stars**

No comments: