Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom

Dark Fire takes place in 1540, in the middle of Tudor era in London. Henry VIII has just married Ann of Cleeves but he is not happy. Thomas Cromwell, the man behind the big English reformation, is in big trouble since he is the one that set up the marriage between the king and Ann. He is now desperate to find something that will put him in good favour with the king again and he believes he has found it; Greek fire! Cromwell has seen a demonstration with the legendary substance and was deeply impressed with its powers- and its gruesome possibilities. If he could lay his hands on it, England would have a new powerful weapon against any foreign invader.

Matthew Shardlake is back again with a new assignment- to find the recipe for Greek fire for Cromwell and the King. But he is not the only one. Others are lurking about and when the two men who had the recipe for Greek fire is found murdered then the heat is really on. It’s a race against time, evil forces are trying to murder Shardlake and the King is growing more and more impatient with Cromwell; something that can have dire consequences.

My own thoughts

I was really looking forward to read this book since I like Dissolution so much and I wasn’t disappointed. I actually found it hard to put down once I started reading. It’s exciting and even though it is real history mixed in with fiction some Sansom makes it work. Normally I don’t like that sort of thing because, well history is history and fiction is always fiction. You can’t mix make belief up with reality. And of course, if you know your history then you know what happens with Cromwell and the King. But I must say that history and fantasy is very delicately merged together in this book.

It is exciting and even though it is told from a first person point of view (“I was walking along when all of the sudden…”) it is not difficult to read. Normally I don’t like this kind of style because it can be clumsy and very narrow. The reader never gets to take part of any other character’s thoughts or emotions. But somehow it works and after a few pages I don’t even think that much about it.

Final thoughts

I would recommend this to anyone who likes a bit of history, or detective stories that takes place in an unusual environment. I must add that the scenery is very graphic and you can really see the streets of London and sometimes, unfortunately, you can almost smell it too.


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