- File Size: 3539 KB
- Print Length: 753 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (January 20, 2011)
- Publication Date: January 20, 2011
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B004FPYZT8
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,610 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Heartstone: A Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery (Matthew Shardlake Mysteries Book 5) Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
— The Spectator (UK)
“Atmospheric and erudite . . . . Not since Umberto Eco penned The Name of the Rose has a historical crime novelist captured so perfectly a people and their place, and harnessed them with such intelligence and credibility to shadowy tales of politics, misdeeds, murder and mystery.”
— Lancashire Evening Post
“An enthralling historical crime novel packed with details of life in Tudor England. Highly recommended.”
— Irish Independent
“Compulsively readable and highly satisfying. . . . An entirely engrossing novel with an intriguing twist.”
— Daily Express
“This wonderful Tudor-era series is must reading for any devotee of historical mysteries.”
— Margaret Cannon, The Globe and Mail
“Another fascinating story from a gifted author.”
— London Free Press
“A rousing tour de force of period re-creation, testifying to Sansom’s fascination with history. . . . Like all the Shardlake books, Heartstone winningly shows Sansom’s crafty flair for hoodwinking even the most hawk-eyed reader. . . . What there is no doubt about . . . is the breadth of Sansom’s achievement in this novel that twists together murder mystery and turbulent history.”
— Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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The main plot has to do with a wardship i.e. becoming a legal guardian of orphaned children, a common and often a quite lucrative option, especially if mentioned above children happen to be rich. But, as usually in Sansom’s books, there are other plots and other mysteries that Shardlake tries to solve in parallel. As a result the story is loaded with multitude of colorful characters. I was intrigued by all of them; the main roles players as well as the ones that made just a short appearance.
I have to admit that in this book Shardlake’s need to uncover the truth become quite obsessive and sometimes missing a rational reason. Never the less it takes him into the south of England where Henry VIII prepares his armada for the war with France. The descriptions of country preparing for war and of the war ships themselves are superb and thrilling.
There was only one moment in the book when I was not totally engrossed in reading; I could have easily skipped about 100 pages toward the end describing multiple fruitless attempts of Shardlake’s investigations. They made me very anxious that the ending will be rushed up and disappointing. But it was not! However, be prepared that justice does not always triumph and some compromises have to be made.
Matthew Shardlake, London lawyer, has been summoned by Queen Catherine to come to the aid of a former servant in her household to investigate the apparent suicide of her son, Michael Calfhill. He had recently petitioned the Court of Wards on behalf of his pupil, Hugh Corbys, citing mistreatment of the boy and theft in administering the boy's estate by Nicholas Hobbey. At the same time, Matthew is concerned over the matter of Ellen Fettiplace who has been interned in Bedlam for 19 years: he has discovered that there is no certificate of lunacy to verify her condition. Shardlake and his law clerk, Jack Barack, will travel to Hoyland to visit the Hobbey family to evaluate Calfhill's accusation . Separately, he will travel to nearby Rolfswood to make inquiries into Ellen's mysterious past.
The title, Heartstone, is used as a continuing symbol in the story; Hugh, the ward in question, feels protected by wearing the heart bone of a stag he has killed. Hugh's only interest has been his skill in archery and his desire to become a soldier. Sir Richard Rich, who was a member of the King's privy council, is perhaps one of the most duplicitous of the historical figures. He is engaged at times in "double dealing, perjury and treachery that is seldom matched in English history." Rich in defending his position to Matthew claims that "many are too obsessed with the rightness of their cause to survive. But the King knows the value of hard counsel - that is why we survive while others go to the axe." To which Matthew replied, "Men without even hearts to turn to stone."
The relationship between Shardlake and Barak has now developed into a bond between the two, blurring the distinction between master and clerk. This is most evident when Jack comforts the sobbing Matthew; soldiers he knew had perished on the English ship, Mary Rose, in a battle with French warships. Matthew has proven to be highly intuitive in his assessment of people, but not always of situations. Shardlake and Barak are often in danger and involved in complicated and tangled plot lines; some are resolved, some not. Perhaps in the next book. Highly recommend for extraordinary writing and Tudor history.
Matthew had already planned to journey to this same area in his own quest for the truth. He'd set for himself the task of learning what had happened to Ellen Fetti-Place nineteen years ago that had driven her to madness and to become an inmate at Bedlam. Matthew had met her two years ago while visiting a young boy who was also an inmate at Bedlam. Although Ellen had seemed to be the sanest inmate there she was too terrified of the outside world to set foot out of Bedlam's protective doors.
Samson weaves these stories with the events of the times and gives a lover of historical fiction an enjoyable read.
Top international reviews
I like this series as they are clever stories and the books bring to the reader the effects of the religious changes that were brought about through Henry VIII divorce and marriage to Anne and subsequent brides and how the general population had to cope with the changes and indeed what they thought. Excellent, looking forward to the next one.
This is the fifth story in CJ Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series. Shardlake is a lawyer in Tudor England during the reign of Henry VIII. It is a time of turmoil both in political and religious circles where there are great conspiracies, blood and death.
Shardlake has sought to remove himself from political intrigues that have caused him many difficulties previously. In addition he finds as he gets older that his enthusiasm for religious change diminishes as he sees how the 'new' religion is as corrupt as the one it sought to replace.
Called to the palace to meet with Henry's sixth wife, Queen Catherine Parr, Shardlake is asked to take a case on behalf of a member of her staff. It involves a matter concerning the Court of Wards i.e. legal matters concerning children who have become wards of the court because of their parents dying whilst they were still regarded by law as minors.
Despite assurances that this case is not a political matter Shardlake suspects that corruption is not far away from the matter he has to investigate. He is not wrong and what follows proves to be brutal and bloody as people seek to prevent Shardlake from uncovering corruption on a massive scale.
Set against the background of a possible French invasion and the sinking of the Mary Rose Sansom brings to life a truly remarkable piece of English history and places Shardlake and his assistant, Jack Barak, right in the centre of it. It is a truly impressive read and is without doubt in my view the best book of the series thus far.
I look forward to the next book in the series.
I can only describe it as a precis of an abridged version of the novel 'Heartstone'. It is over & done with in a bit over 2 hours. The proper audio books narrated by Anton Lesser usually take 18-22 hours airtime. Needless to say this production merely scratches at the story which is very rushed & fails draw you into it. None of Sansom's careful research regarding the state Tudor England in 1545 is present. The country's political isolation, the sense of chaos caused by the social & economic changes at this time are totally lacking in this work. Everything is one dimensional & there is zero character development.
Its a waste of money don't buy it. Look out for the proper audio book or even better the book itself which is a terrific read.
Once again an extremely slow start which only gets going about 70% in to the book but as in it's predecessors has a spectacular ending if a little drawn out this time.
As one writer quotes in the synopsis of the book..... but after a challenging, slowish start (something frequently attempted by Sansom -- like many good writers, he often demands a certain patience from his readers)....and how right he is, I could not have put it better myself!
With the help of his best friends Barak and Guy, Matthew once again takes on a case for Queen Catherine this time and gets involved in several other plots along the way as he is want to do. Shardlake is a plodder, thinking things through thoroughly, remembering little titbits of information, keeping cool even when his adversaries rail him for his disability but slowly, ever so slowly piecing the whole thing together to a very satisfying ending, someone like Columbo of the TV series with Peter Falk.
Again as in the other books, I learnt so much about this period of history and I found it just fascinating to Google these major events to find out more. The Great Harry for example was the largest and most powerful warship throughout Europe and was a marvel in engineering with the limited resources of the age. The sight of it and the Mary Rose must have been quite spectacular out there in The Solvent viewed by all from Portsmouth's shore-line and the French fleet lying in wait.
All the wealth gained from the dissolution of the monasteries was spent financing this war and when that was finished he overtaxed the population then remade the currency using more silver which devalued the coinage sowing discontent amongst the population.
Sadly in Henry's quest to supersede his predecessors in conquesting achievements he almost bankrupted England, left thousands of families with no husband, father, brother or son to help them survive (because don't forget it was very much a mans world at that time) and then he promptly dies 6 months afterwards leaving a disastrous legacy for future generations to recover from.
Thank God for Elizabeth, his much unwanted 'daughter' who turned England's fortunes around and made us into the greatest nation in the world.
Thank you Mr Sansom for another fascinating look into my legacy, your attention to detail is unsurpassed which makes this Shardlake series more than just books, they are a masterpiece!
Do you think we are looking at book 6 perhaps?
The characterisation is strong and there is always enough drama and suspense to keep the reader guessing and create tension and the desire to read on and find out what happens next.
Queen Catherine Parr asks Matthew Shardlake to investigate a case on behalf of a loyal servant of hers, which concerns claims by the woman's son that 'monstrous wrongs' have been committed against two young wards of court. He and his assistant, Barak travel to Hampshire to investigate. He has taken an interest in the case of Ellen Fettiplace whose incarceration in Bedlam seems to be less than straightforward and as she originates from Hampshire Matthew decides to look into the background of her story whilst he is there.
The year is 1545 and Sansom unfolds the stories of the wards and Ellen against the backdrop of a country preparing for war. Matthew and Barak travel with soldiers conscripted to fight as the King masses his fleet in preparation for an invasion by the French navy.
Highly recommended to anyone who likes historical novels or just a good detective style mystery set in the past.
From the first moment you are drawn into the richly evocative world of the Tudor court and enagge with characters that are richly drawn and you begin to care for. The storytelling draws the reader on and on, so that by the end one feels satisfaction that all is drawn together and sadness that such great storytelling has come to an end.
I can't wait to start the next book in the series.
Once again - after Sovereign - Sansom decides to move the location of the plot outside London, giving him, and us, the opportunity to visit the Hampshire and Sussex countryside and the assembled navy in Portsmouth, where an attack from the French appears to be imminent. As always, he seems to capture the mood perfectly, the battle weariness among the veterans, the barely suppressed excitement and optimism among the new recruits, the jitteriness amongst the general population. This is where Heartstone comes into its own, the depiction of everyday life, imbuing even the minor characters with a voice of their own. I felt genuine grief when I learnt of the death of one member of Shardlake's household, mentioned in passing, and could feel the horror faced by George Leacon at the siege of Boulogne; the passages of the sinking of the Mary Rose are quite harrowing and will haunt you for days. Yet I was less convinced of the mystery central to this story, and could never really identify with Hugh Curteys, who is always portrayed as devoid of emotion, whereas the other members of the Hobbey household, though coming across as unsympathetic, are at least ruled by their emotions; this is the reason why I have only awarded it four stars. While parts of Heartstone are as sublime as previous volumes in the series, I still had the nagging feeling that it didn't hang together just as well, it starts off far too slowly and drags on for too long, with nothing worthwhile happening for several chapters. While Sansom has taken the admirable step of not always making Shardlake likeable, I have to confess that in Heartstone I found him to be particularly irritating, stubbornly pursuing his ideas to the detriment of everyone around him, not considering that his actions will have consequences; Barak aptly phrases it thus: 'That's the problem, ..., you set something in motion and before you know where you are it's all out of control.'
To me, Sansom's stories have always been more than 'just' a historical mystery, they let us explore what it means to be human and allow us to gain a deeper understanding of history. As Dr Jerome de Groot writes in the 'Opinion' column in October's issue of the BBC History magazine, 'Historical fiction can give readers a more profound insight into the past, and illuminate an issue in a way that non-fiction prose can never hope to achieve.' So take that on the chin, all you nitpickers and sticklers for one hundred per cent historical accuracy! I am just grateful for the time I was allowed to spend in Shardlake and Barak's company, not to mention all the other friendly or sinister characters I've encountered along the way. Thank you for the ride, Mr Sansom, and for allowing us to partake in the journey, it's been a pleasure.
The author has mastered the character of Shardlake and other figures such as Barak and Rich. Confidently he reintroduces characters from earlier books to give added depth to the hunchbaked lawyer still surviving a little too close to the corruption and mismanagement of one of the most dominating figures in English history.
He has fashioned the ability of weaving his plots against subtle intimacies and descriptions of the miniscule details of Tudor life. The reader can learn a lot about life under Henry VIII without apparently trying. C.J. Sansom has certainly done his historical research. Three examples of such details are the techniques of archery, the effect of the debasement of coinage and the petty snobberies present among people sharing a common role in society.
The plot centres on two mysteries which the reader is certain must be linked but only finds out if that is so in the closing pages. The author 'plays fair'with the reader but they must remember they are seeing affairs from the perspective of Shardlake. Mistakes are made by a lawyer struggling to understand why an inmate in Bedlam appears to be sane but with no desire to leave, and why a young man denounces a terrible crime but fails to provide details before his sudden death. The answers are there all the time once you find out what they are. Just like Agatha Christie noting down what is being stated as you read helps -as long as the reader avoids the blinkers of the 'I' perspective.
The style is clear and gripping so I just had to read this book over two days. I live in West Sussex, I've studied the period and I know the fate of the 'Mary Rose' well. Even so, I couldn't put the book down.
The 'so far' in my title indicates I'm already looking forward to more Shadlake novels. I'm sorry C.J. Sansom didn't start the series dealing with events under Wolsey and so give readers the chance of seeing his lawyer hero deal with the obscurities of the King's 'Geat Matter' or the legal confusions of the religious changes of 1531-35. The reign of Henry VIII is coming rapidly to a close. Will he fall into the court intrigues as power shifts to the new men? How will he cope with the ambitions of Seymour and Northumberland? What stand might he take during the Marian successsio? Useful backgrounds for future novels perhaps but he won't be able to employ as a backcloth the terrifying menace of the monster ruling England who was once styled 'Bluff King Hal'.