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Sovereign by C. J. Sansom

Sovereign (original 2006; edition 2007)

by C. J. Sansom

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1,629654,455 (4.12)210
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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This book is the third in the Matthew Shardlake series, a mystery/historical fiction series, with all of the political intrigue of Henry VIII's court.

This story takes place in autumn 1541 at the time of "The Great Progress". Earlier that year a plot against Henry VIII had been foiled, and the "Progress" was undertaken to show Henry's power to the shaky loyalties of the people in the north. Catherine Howard is now queen, and the progress included not only an army of thousands of soldiers, but the queen's household, as well. The story begins with lawyer Shardlake and his assistant, Jack Barak, waiting in York for the Progress to arrive. He has been sent to York by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury to assist with Petitions to the King, and to ensure the safety of a prisoner who will be transported to London for questioning regarding the foiled plot. Of course, it wouldn't be a mystery without a murder, which Shardlake is determined to solve. I enjoy this series because of all of the historical detail that is added to give color to the story. The intrigue surrounding the young Catherine Howard and her dalliances with Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper are cleverly woven in, as well as the story of the conspirators who question Henry's legitimate claim to the throne.

I am giving 4 stars, although I think this book may have suffered from being a little too long. Steven Crossley's excellent narration makes up for that, in my opinion.

Read Sept 2013 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
Another compelling tale in the Shardlake series. I did notice a rare anachronism: he used the word "graffiti", which did not enter Italian vocabulary until the early 1850's, so its use by an Englishman in the 1540's would not have occurred. ( )
  nog | Jul 25, 2015 |
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 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:20 -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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