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Tombland by C. J. Sansom
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C. J. Sansom's new Shardlake novel is another great example of historical fiction as it should be (IMHO). This book does an excellent job of placing the reader in the transition period between Henry VIII and Elizabeth. Perhaps not so entertaining as other books in the series. The character Matthew Shardlake continues to make outrageous politically inept and naive moves and as always improbably survives his ordeals. Otherwise, historical figures are brought into the stories in a most believable and enlightening way to readers.

I debate the rating between 4 and 5 stars. I give it 5 stars for the historical research and care, 4 stars for the improbable life of Shardlake and general somberness of this story.

The Post Log is excellent and lengthy, reviewing events, sources, research and discussing actual historical events.

I look forward to the next in the series. Will it really take another 2-3 years ??? I guess I will just have to wait. ( )
  yhgail | Feb 20, 2019 |
What is there to say about a C. J. Sansom Matthew Shardlake novel, other than absolute quality.
Gripping entertaining from first to last page, well researched and beautifully written, superb characterisation with a real sense of time and place.
One of my favourites cannot wait for the next book.
Just one downside i personally like nothing better than to soak in a hot bath with a good book, but in this case its such a large book and i ain't getting any younger i thought i might drown. ( )
  Gudasnu | Jan 11, 2019 |
Set in 1549, Tombland by C.J. Sansom is the 7th in the Matthew Shardlake series of historical fiction novels but can easily be read as a standalone. Shardlake is asked by the Lady Elizabeth (yep, the yet to be crowned Elizabeth I) to investigate the murder of a distant relative.

Matthew Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer and is investigating the murder with his assistant and friend when they're caught up in the peasant rebellion in Norwich. Being of the gentlemen class they're taken captive and need to use their wits to stay alive.

I didn't know anything about this country-wide peasant rebellion led by Robert Kett during the time of Edward VI, 2 years after the death of Henry VIII. I learned that the rebels sought to overthrow the landlords and address their unlawful and unjust practices and at the end of the novel, Sansom writes that it was a "colossal event that has been much underplayed." Page 806

Tombland is a chunkster of a book coming in at 866 pages, but with the last 66 pages containing an essay, acknowledgements, end notes and bibliography this was an enduring but rewarding book. The writing is excellent, the history and characterisation was top notch and I enjoyed the dialogue immensely. Here's an example:
"God's pestilence, lad, how on earth should I know? I have no idea." Page 34
The cursing was amusing, with contributions like: "God's bones", "God's blood" and "shut your clack box." That one was so immediately evocative and amusing, it's stayed with me. Shardlake is a memorable character too, his condition and how it is perceived in the mid 1500s as well as how the lifestyle of the period impacts his health was infinitely interesting.

My advice? Don't let the size of Tombland by C.J. Sansom put you off picking this one up. It was a 5 star read for me the entire way and I came to think of it alongside the ilk of Ken Follett.

Highly recommended.

* Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan *
1 vote Carpe_Librum | Jan 2, 2019 |
Shardlake is commissioned by the Lady Elizabeth to support her distant cousin who has been accused of murder and is to be tried in Norwich. The case is suspicious but Boleyn is convicted and nearly hanged until Shardlake intercepts. Around Norwich there is talk of rebellion and Shardlake and his companions end up being caught up in Kett's Revolt which ends in a battle between the English Army and English rebels.
At their heart Sansom's novels are just satisfyingly complex historical mystery novels but that is to completely underplay them. Shardlake is a flawed and damaged character and he seems to be a bystander to major events in Tudor England. Here the rebellion against the Protector and the landed classes by the poor across the South of England is the setting. This is a little known piece of history, taking place over one summer in the early reign of Edward VI, in which the poor rose up against the gentry angry about inflation and the eroding of their rights. Yes, there is a murder to solve and a few tricky situations for the protagonists but Sansom's research and the comfortable accuracy of her use of time and place make this writing peerless in the genre. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Dec 30, 2018 |
I've waited a long time for C.J. Sansom's historical novel, 'Tombland', it's the new Matthew Shardlake novel in his Tudor historical series. It's thumping great book, a long and solid read backed by awe inspiring research into the Kett 'rebellion' in East Anglia, part of that year's -1549 -overall peasant rebellions. No wonder it's taken years to write. For those, like me, who like to know the facts behind an historical novel there're 62 pages at the back of the book filling in the details of how and where C.J. Sansom researched and where and why he chose certain POVs. Reading those pages certainly help understand and enjoy the novel.

King Henry (VIII) has been dead for over two years and Shardlake has been working for Lady Elizabeth (not yet called a princess!) A distant relative has been murdered and so Lady Elizabeth packs him off to Norfolk, to Norwich, to found out who murdered this wife of a distant Bolyn relative. It's a nasty case and whilst in Norwich the rebellion - really it's a legitimate protest - begins and Shardlake and his colleagues are caught up in it. Issues back then are still being raised today - the recent protests in France - the rich or those with power abusing those without money or power.

The book is not just a history lesson. There's a cracking good story to follow, characters we readers care about, and some things to think about. A good historical novel should make the reader think about what's happening today as well as in the past. C.J. Sansom does it well.

A cracking good read, thank you, Mr Sansom. ( )
  p.d.r.lindsay | Dec 17, 2018 |
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Book description
Tombland is the seventh novel in C. J. Sansom’s number one bestselling Shardlake series.

Summer, 1549.

Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos . . .

The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector’s prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous failure and threatens to involve France. Worst of all, the economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring among the peasantry.

Since the old King’s death, Matthew Shardlake has been working as a lawyer in the service of Henry’s younger daughter, the Lady Elizabeth. The gruesome murder of Edith Boleyn, the wife of John Boleyn – a distant Norfolk relation of Elizabeth’s mother – which could have political implications for Elizabeth, brings Shardlake and his assistant Nicholas Overton to the summer assizes at Norwich. There they are reunited with Shardlake’s former assistant Jack Barak. The three find layers of mystery and danger surrounding Edith’s death, as a second murder is committed.

And then East Anglia explodes, as peasant rebellion breaks out across the country. The yeoman Robert Kett leads a force of thousands in overthrowing the landlords and establishing a vast camp outside Norwich. Soon the rebels have taken over the city, England’s second largest.

Barak throws in his lot with the rebels; Nicholas, opposed to them, becomes a prisoner in Norwich Castle; while Shardlake has to decide where his ultimate loyalties lie, as government forces in London prepare to march north and destroy the rebels. Meanwhile he discovers that the murder of Edith Boleyn may have connections reaching into both the heart of the rebel camp and of the Norfolk gentry . . .
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