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Sovereign by C. J. Sansom

Sovereign (original 2006; edition 2007)

by C. J. Sansom

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1,595634,560 (4.12)202
Authors:C. J. Sansom
Info:Pan Books (2007), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 662 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, historical fiction, crime, mystery, york, wgs

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Sovereign by C. J. Sansom (2006)

  1. 30
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (bookfitz)
    bookfitz: A novel from the same time period. The story follows the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the court of King Henry VIII.

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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
It's becoming quite a treat to read a Shardlake mystery! I'm deliberately spacing them out to enjoy them over a long period. Book 3 takes us to York and the Progress of the King to the north after the rebellion and during his marriage to Catherine Howard. Compulsive reading without too much of a sense of "whodunnit". I love the character of Matthew and how he reflects on the society around him. ( )
  aine.fin | May 28, 2015 |
Once again, at the beginning of the novel we find Matthew Shardlake contentedly living a quieter life, away from the dangerous court machinations. The year is now 1541, and once again, he is pulled into a case which will turn out to have huge political implications. Following an uprising in the North which was put down, and now hearing of another plot in the works, King Henry VIII and his courtiers have set out on a grand Progress to the North, which is to end with a spectacular pageant in the city of York, where the political leaders are to make a formal apology to the King by abasing themselves and giving him a huge sum of reparation money while pledging their everlasting loyalty and devotion to him. An important prisoner who refuses to divulge precious information about the plot is held in in the local prison and is to be brought back to the London Tower for questioning under the attentions of the skilled torturers there. Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury calls in Matthew Shardlake and asks him to make his way to York and ensure the prisoner survives the journey and is healthy enough to withstand torture once in the tower, a favour which Matthew is not in a position to refuse. Much against his will, he makes his way North ahead of the King's progress with his new sidekick, Barak, one of Cromwell's former men whom he worked with on the Greek Fire case and has since hire on as his assistant. Most of the action takes place in York, where documents putting in question Henry VIII's legitimacy to the throne are found. As the carpenters and workmen are in a frenzy to finish preparations for the King's arrival, one man dies in suspicious circumstances, while it seems someone is trying very hard to use any occasion to cause Matthew to have an accidental death. We get to meet the King through Matthew's eyes and as can be expected, he proves to be cruel and despicable. Meanwhile, Barak has gotten involved with Tamasin, a beautiful young wench in the Queen's employ and may have truly fallen in love for the first time in his life, but one night as they are having an illicit encounter, they witness the young Queen, Catherine Howard taking her departure from a young courtier who is just leaving her building. Is this why Matthew ends up being tortured in the Tower for information once he arrives in London, or is his enemy after him because of something else?

I just had to continue after this thrilling entry in the series, and immediately moved on to book #4. ( )
  Smiler69 | Jun 11, 2014 |
Many reviewers have found this book compulsive reading and I had the same experience.
The novel took me straight to England in 1541 and life under Henry VIII just after the dissolution of the monasteries. The politics of the time are well stated and clearly laid out and the intrigue that goes with those politics is familiar and little different to today, although some of the methods were more brutal in 1541. I was gripped because I didn't guess who was committing what crimes and the information was well revealed to suit my thinking. The characters are all well drawn and interesting.
It is a long book but there isn't too much here that is superfluous; some unnecessary passages that don't contribute to the action but generally Sansom has kept focussed and produced a good long novel. ( )
  Tifi | Apr 14, 2014 |
Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Barak are sent by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer to see to it that a prisoner in York who is destined for the Tower in London and eventually will face hanging will be treated well. It is at a time when King Henry VIII's Progress is visiting the area with the anticipation of a visit by the Scottish king. A man is killed who is in possession of a box of important papers needed by those who wish to dethrone Henry VIII. It is stolen from Shardlake's hands. Soon attempts are made on his life. There are plenty of officials. Which ones are corrupt and which are not? How do certain events fit together? Which are important in the puzzle and which are not? These are all questions the reader ponders. With that said, I had figured out the solutions to both the murderer and thief aspects of the novel fairly early on. I still enjoyed the historical context and Sansom's writing tremendously. I suspect about 50 pages could have been trimmed in all from this novel (which would have still made it long in comparison to many) by tightening the action and getting rid of some of the slow action that had little bearing on the outcome. It's still an excellent read in a great series. ( )
  thornton37814 | Dec 4, 2013 |
Sovereign is as good a read as the previous books, entwining its mysteries with the history of the period. Some of it is obviously invented, but still, it invokes the Tudor period and the Reformation pretty strongly and with attention to detail. It's slow to unfold -- and this one definitely suckers you in with a slow build of emotion, i.e. the bond between Shardlake and Wrenne.

You've got your standard collection of corrupt and incompetent officials, with a bit of torture to spice the dish. A new female character enters the picture, with a bit of romance (not for Shardlake, but for Barak, which is a little sad in one sense).

In a way, it's of a piece with the first two books: the style and format haven't changed. If you enjoyed the previous two books, then you'd probably enjoy this; if you found them too slow, too unbelievable in the way Barak and Shardlake mix with high society, in the way that a lawyer like Shardlake can become so entangled in politics and scheming... well, then you'd be best advised to cut your losses, because it doesn't change in that sense. ( )
  shanaqui | Jul 30, 2013 |
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Book description
Autumn, 1541. King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to attend an extravagant submission of his rebellious subjects in York.

Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting with legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission – to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator being returned to London for interrogation.

But the murder of a local glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. And when Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret papers which could threaten the Tudor throne, a chain of events unfolds that will lead Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age.
Haiku summary
Matthew Shardlake rides
To York and soon uncovers
A conspiracy.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330436082, Paperback)

Trade edition paperback, vg++

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:55 -0400)

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Following the uncovering of a plot against his throne in Yorkshire, King Henry VIII has set out on a Progress to the North, to overawe his rebellious subjects there once and for all. This is the latest book from Sansom whose novel 'Dark Fire' won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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