Sovereign by C.J. Sansom

This is the fourth book in the series of the lawyer Matthew Shardlake from the 16th century London.

The plot

The year is 1541 and King Henry Tudor is on his way to the North in order to deal with the rebells in York. With him are his new young wife, Catherine Howard, basically the whole court with all its servants and a few hundred soldiers. Lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barack are sent to York. Shardlake has been assigned by Archbishop Cranmer to work with the processing the legal petitions but also to bring with him a conspirator to London where he will be brutally interrogated. But in York things start to happen. Strange murders occur and Shardlake seems to be in the middle of it all.

As always Shardlake ends up in the middle of a mystery while the politics surrounding the court is always present. You can never be too sure of whom you can trust and you have to be careful with what you say. One negative word against the King or anyone in his presence can lead to torture and even execution. This is a troublesome time.

Beside the murders, which are troublesome enough Shardlake gets his hands on a cache of secret documents that might actually threaten the Royal family’s right to the throne, he knows that he is in more trouble than ever. The question is, what will he do with the material he has found?

My own views

As always Sansom manages to write a story that completely engulfs you. You forget time and space and you’re in Tudor England in the 16th century. It’s a scary and foul smelling world. Sansom writes very graphically and he spares no details. It doesn’t matter how horrific they are. I would like to see the faces I make when I read this because there are a few stomach turning passages.

As always it is very exciting to read and I just want to read the rest in the series straight away. They’re not just only for the person interested in history- they are really good detective stories.

 

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