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Sovereign (Matthew Shardlake Mysteries, No. 3) Hardcover – March 22, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Sansom's engrossing third historical featuring Matthew Shardlake (after 2005's Dark Fire) finds the hunchbacked barrister at the vortex of strife-torn Tudor England in the rainy autumn of 1541. Northern Britain anxiously awaits the arrival of the Great Progress taking Henry VIII and an entourage of thousands toward York to quell a fresh rebellion. Recently appointed a legal counsel for the Progress, Shardlake has a secret mission from Archbishop Cranmer to guarantee the safe return to London of imprisoned conspirator Sir Edward Broderick. With his trusted assistant, Jack Barak, Shardlake also investigates the death of master glazier Peter Oldroyd, a suspected papist, who fell from his ladder and was impaled on glass shards. Their search of Oldroyd's house reveals intriguing documents that question the royal line of succession and even impugn Henry. Despite complex court politics and several attempts on his life, Shardlake stalwartly maintains his integrity while searching for truth amid the "vipers' nest" of Henry's court. (Apr.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
In Dissolution, reformist Matthew Shardlake works with Thomas Cromwell to investigate the death of a royal commissioner; in Dark Fire, he defends a young woman accused of murder. Critics agree that Sovereign is as good as, or even better than, its predecessors. Themes of political ruses, conspiracy, religious fanaticism, and murder, combined with sophisticated plotting, meticulously researched details, and convincing characters (including a cruel, paranoid Henry) recreate the repression, tyranny, and gory minutiae of Tudor England. (Soft romance is patently absent.) A few critics commented on the heft of the novel, but in the end they agreed that Sovereign is an outstanding work of historical fiction.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Sovereign is a story of one of Henry VIII's progressions, which are large parties that travelled with the king while he went on psuedo-diplomatic missions. The lead character, Matthew Shardlake is responsible for the welfare of a prisoner who is being sent back to London with the progression. The back-story covers Henry V's mismanagement of the economy and various social trends of the time, including mistreatment of of the underclass (in this case, prisoners) and the war between Catholics and Protestants.
If you like Hillary Mantel's Cromwell books, you'll find the Shardlake series to be a fun take on fiction that is set in this period. Fans of historical fiction and mysteries should have a great time with this book.
In "Sovereign" I was very impressed with the descriptions of York and of the Great Progress, particularly the meeting of the King. It was a specific, powerful description that gave me a deeper impression of the exact meaning of "Divine Right of Kings" and "Head of the Church, appointed by God." I felt like a first-hand witness, complete with the perspective of being on one's knees and restricted to not looking up, awed and scared as hell, noticing specifics in the moment.
It's also fun to look up the characters and find out how the author worked them and the circumstances into the plot. Very nice work and extremely well-researched! It would be interesting to see this made into a well-produced, BBC-style television series or mini-series.
Most recent customer reviews
But this has me hooked and I am now on the fifth book.