[ read online Best ] Sovereign Author C.J. Sansom – Papercuts.co

Autumn, King Henry VIII Has Set Out On A Spectacular Progress To The North To Attend An Extravagant Submission By His Rebellious Subjects In YorkAlready In The City Are Lawyer Matthew Shardlake And His Assistant Jack Barak As Well As Legal Work Processing Petitions To The King, Shardlake Has Reluctantly Undertaken A Secret Mission For Archbishop Cranmer To Ensure The Welfare Of An Important But Dangerous Conspirator Who Is To Be Returned To London For InterrogationBut The Murder Of A York 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 Documents Which Could Threaten The Tudor Throne, A Chain Of Events Unfolds That Will Lead To Shardlake Facing The Most Terrifying Fate Of The Age


10 thoughts on “Sovereign

  1. says:

    TWO DESCRIPTIONS OF THE MATTHEW SHARDLAKE SERIES Description the First Take Sherlock Holmes and1 Crook his back Quasimodo style oh how I wanted to say bend it like Beckham instead, but I figure it s time we all move on from that one and make sure you include a nice hump 2 Surgically remove 92.7% of the arrogant, ego maniacal self love 3 Replace Watson with a street wise, well connected tough guy while deleting all hints of bromantic tension between the two 4 Change the setting from Victorian England to the time of Henry VIII and the English Reformation where Reformers are engaged in a protracted struggle against the Papist supporters of the Roman Catholic Church 5 Switch localized and small time crimes and mysteries to vast political conspiracies with subtle, nuanced clues and a host of grey characters struggling against the wider canvas of the Reformation 6 Takeaway dumb, dorky stumbling blocks like Inspector Idiot savant minus the savant Lestrade and replace with rich, smart, capable, politically connected MEGAbastards with almost unlimited resources to cause mischief 7 Add and my apologies for Sir Arthur for this superbly crafted plots, rich, nuanced characterizations and deeply immersive historical settings and.YOU HAVE THE BRILLIANT MATTHEW SHARDLAKE SERIES BY C.J SANSOM WITH OODLES AND OODLES OF WIN Description the Second Take Sherlock Holmes andFirst beat him about the neck and chest with a burlap sack containing the full weight of his enormous ego until hot tears flow and he screams for Watson to bring him some cocaine and apologizes for being such arrogasshat pricktardo it s foreign but I think you can translate Second tell Watson to grow a pair, send Sir Author to a writer s workshop and finish Lestrade s lobotomy Ninja style ThenREAD THE MATTHEW SHARDLAKE SERIES BY THE LIGHT OF THE FIRE BURNING AWAY THE EVIDENCE OF SHERLOCK S MORE DREADFUL WARDROBE CHOICESI MEAN, THE HAT HAS TO GO 4.0 to 4.5 stars Okay, okay, that was a bit much and the Holmes stories are actually quite good However, I find the Matthew Shardlake series and the writing of C.J Sansom to be substantially better These are true blue historical mysteries that pull you completely into the time of the story in this case 1541 Sovereign is the 3rd book in the series there are currently five and follows after Dissolution and Dark Fire In this one, King Henry VIII is traveling to York on the famous Progress to the North to accept the submission of papist rebels and grant pardons for those involved Master Shardlake, an attorney, is sent ahead to York to assist with processing petitions to the King At least that is his public reason for being there Privately, he has been requested by Archbishop Cranmer to ensure the welfare of a dangerous conspirator and bring him safely from York to Londonso he can be properly tortured in the Tower of London Well, a murder occurring shortly after Matthew s arrival points to a vast conspiracy that could lead to disaster for the King and his family I will leave it there and just say that the intertwining plots and subplots are very well done and engrossing This is easily my favorite historical mystery series and among my favorite mystery series period.So why not 5 stars Okay, here is my only gripe The first book in the series was Dissolution and it was 320 pages long.AND NON STOP AWESOME FROM BEGINNING TO END Now, the last two books, Dark Fire and this have been almost TWICE as long Now, the mysteries and conspiracies have gotten bigger and so some additional length is certainly welcomed However, I still think that each of the last two stories are about 100 pages too long and so there are few parts that drag Thus, I can t quite give it 5 stars However, that is really a fairly minor quibble and some may even appreciate the stretching out of the narrative Regardless, this is a superior series and the writing and plotting are top drawer and will make you see 16th century England when you close your eyes Finally, Matthew Shardlake is an amazing character and acts as the perfect guide through these stories Honorable, brilliant, determined, practical and very efficient A GOOD MAN 4.0 stars HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


  2. says:

    We all know what it s like to anticipate something so much that we are literally shaking with excitement Shardlake had similar feelings about meeting his king he couldn t wait to behold the presence of King Henry VIII Except when that moment finally comes it almost breaks Shardlake in two What does the obese tyrant do to cause such a reaction Well he publicly humiliates Shardlake by mocking his appearance because clearly the king is the very essence of physical perfection, clearly he is not beyond such vain fuelled low blows as Shardlake presumed See the other lawyer by his side, the one that dropped his cap I know he is a southron, see what a poor bent bottled spider he appears This may not seem like an overly terrible thing, but if you lived your entire life with such a strong insecurity, and then to have that same insecurity picked on by your king, it s like being struck with an iron fist Shardlake does nothing but internalise such a comment making his self esteem even lower The comment almost makes him forget about his new mission, one that is rather mundane, but the plot picks up when a murder occurs in the king s camp Shardlake can then do what he does best He begins to investigate and finds some rather intriguing papers full of mystery and danger Several attempts are made upon his own life in order to insure the secrets remain hidden They smell of betrayal and dynastical forgery they suggest that the current Tudor line is completely invalid due to Henry s maternal grandfather Edward IV being a bastard born of a low born archer rather than the offspring of Richard Duke of York Such material is politically sensitive to say the least Shardlake begins to regret even finding such papers He wants nothing to do with such intrigue And who can blame him This is dirty stuff He wants no of the King s ire But somehow he knows this is linked to the original murder So the two separate cases begin to intertwine and overlap He questions, question and questions some to get his answers And, as ever, the plot becomes rather intense The mystery is made dense by so many political schemers and conniving courtiers out to serve their own interests There are so many leads, so many trails to follow The hard part is decided what is relevant and what is irrelevant hearsay But this is no chap murder mystery The plot is lavishly detailed and perfectly drawn out This is the best Shardlake book so far, as Sansom balances historical intrigue with detail and excitement This series just gets better and better Matthew Shardlake Series1 Dissolution A suspense filled four stars.2 Dark Fire A dark 3.5 stars3 Sovereign A solid 4.5 stars


  3. says:

    C.J Sansom continues to develop his great set of historical mysteries, all set during the Tudor era With Thomas Cromwell executed, Matthew Shardlake is in definite limbo, trying to distance himself from his one time superior while keeping a legal practice running effectively The Cromwell void is filled soon thereafter when Archbishop Cranmer turns to Shardlake and asks that he make his way to York, where King Henry VIII will soon travel Still reeling from the clashes with the Crown, York is a political zone that simmers with uncertainty, requiring that Shardlake and his new assistant, Barak, always watch themselves Arriving in York, Shardlake senses that things may not be as troubling as Cranmer posited, seeing a community ready to celebrate with their King However, when the death of a local glazier appears to be foul play, Shardlake and Barak cannot help but look into it, for the sake of the country s safety The victim appears to have fallen from a ladder, but there is surely to it, which is substantiated when Shardlake discovers a box of documents He and Barak ponder how to get into them and, once opened, the cache reveals something that Shardlake could not have imagined Documents discussing the Tudor bloodline and some mention of the past King Richard, a close descendant to the current Henry VIII Before Shardlake can process what he has glimpsed, he is attacked and the documents disappear With two mysteries to occupy his time, Shardlake begins his own investigation, though tries to keep the peace when the King arrives to celebrate with his subjects Dodging death on numerous occasions, Shardlake begins to wonder if the murderer has a determination that will not be sated and seeks to reveal a stunning truth about the legitimacy of the Tudor line With Barak by his side, Shardlake tries to piece it all together without becoming another victim, while York remains a volatile spot for any southerner A well developed mystery that holds the reader s attention until the final pages, allowing Sansom to use history to his advantage Recommended for those who love a historical mystery, particularly the reader with a passion for all things Tudor.This is a wonderfully deep and intricate mystery series that forces me to think while also enjoying the narrative Steeped in history and developments of the time, C.J Sansom chooses to educate while entertaining with a nuance filled narrative The story helped to open my eyes to some of the Tudor history, particularly that during the War of the Roses, with York at the centre of all Sansom also hinted at a little of the backstory related to Matthew Shardlake, a welcome addition to any piece A gritty and determined legal mind, Shardlake finds himself in the middle of upheaval, with Henry VIII getting rid of the stain of Thomas Cromwell as he advances on his tumultuous search for a male heir by lusting for anything with breasts Shardlake must hold his tongue and forge onwards as best he can, hoping that he is one step ahead of his critics throughout Sansom shows a man still humbled by his hunchback when exploring Matthew Shardlake, taking some time to talk about a childhood that was tough, when seen through the lens of other children, less understanding of difference and wanting to carve out their own identity Still, Shardlake faces adversity in this new land York where many challenge his veracity and capability, as though his back is indicative of feeble mindedness Shardlake develops a strong attention to detail when it comes to the law, as well as being a wonderful investigator Having moved the story so far away from London, there are countless others whose presence throughout the novel help enrich the narrative, particularly the contrast between northern and southern sentiment about many things These characters serve various purposes and the banter is highly educational while also keeping the reader from getting too serious about the reading experience Sansom has a wonderful way of weaving his characters into a glorious tapestry and will not disappoint The novel is strong and well paced, opening yet Tudor and English history, while questioning what many feel they know Sansom captures these intricacies while offering a stellar mystery to keep the reader enthralled The novel is by no means out of the realm of any reader, though its depth and analysis can sometimes give it a deeper and intense feel Peeling back the layers of history and the pace required to digest it all, this is a wonderful story for the patient reader I am eager that I gave the series another chance and want to get to the core of the Sansom reading experience, with Matthew Shardlake at its centre Kudos, Mr Sansom, for keeping the story strong and highly entertaining I cannot wait to see what you have in store next, so I ll rush to get my hands on another novel Love hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge


  4. says:

    You have rescued him from suspicion, Brother Shardlake I would not have anyone under false suspicion Even Radwinter Maleverer s smile turned into a cruel smirk Jesu, sir, you are a righteous prig I wish I could afford your scruples For most histories, the Progress to the North of 1541 is given little comment Yet, this was a critical time for Henry VIII in securing his rule after he had disposed of his handyman Thomas Cromwell C.J Sansom gives us many of the intimate details of this procession, through his character, Matthew Shardlake and his task which sends him from London to meet the Progress at York, the center for the previous rebellion.Shardlake is told This is not a game It is to show these barbarian papists the power and glory of the king Henry no longer prefers to be addressed as Your Grace he now favors Your Majesty.As the title alludes to, this book is about the King, Henry VIII The thing that has hovered over the monarchy for years is still an issue It was something that Shardlake was familiar with since his time with Thomas Cromwell Queen Catherine was in her forties, past child bearing, and she had not given the King a male heir Unless he could marry a younger woman who might provide an heir, the Tudor dynasty would die with him And there were many of us who thought the only way to preserve true religion in England was for Queen Catherine to do what the Pope himself had suggested to her go into a nunnery, allow the King to marry again Foolish, obstinate woman By insisting God intended her to be married to the King until death, she brought about the very revolution to religion she hated and feared One of Shardlake s tasks is to assure that a prisoner is not abused before he can be brought back to the Tower of London and interrogated by the King s experts Yet, not long after he arrives in York, a puzzling death takes place that demands his attention This places him and his clerk, Barak in greater danger The plot takes us through multiple attempts on his life while he searches for the killer or killers.and why there is need for any killing The pace is slow and I am sure some who reviewed this book were bored with all the wandering around town This is the nature of detection and getting to know the town is part of that Yet the book is over 550 pages and you have to have a desire to be immersed in Tudor life or it isn t worth the effort Is this paragraph necessary We walked to Stonegate as the sun and city came to life, keeping under the eaves as people opened their windows and threw the night s piss into the streets The shopkeepers appeared in their doorways and the noise of their shutters banging open accompanied our passage Perhaps, unnecessary to the plot, but part of what informs and illuminates life in Tudor times.This is history for where Shardlake finds himself now, in York, with the King and his new Queen after Anne Boleyn and several others and a rebellion having been quelled The King is determined to stamp out any remnants of the rebellion and to assure that His Church of England is the only Christian church extant That is part of Shardlake s role in York to see that a noble prisoner is well cared for and fit to be brought back to London for Henry s inquisitors.Those are not easy tasks under the best of circumstances Here, the rich detail of the venues slows down the plot to a pleasant stroll through York and then builds its momentum so that, by the time Shardlake, gets back to London about 100 pages from the end we are caught in a maelstrom of politics, greed, veniality, and mayhem To those who have read other historical books of the period Wolf Hall among them the names will be familiar the Howards the Seymours the Parrs the Dudleys and, of course, Richard Rich The plot gathers speed at the end like an avalanche and false assumptions are swept away in the final chapters Very satisfying.In addition, we learn a lot about Shardlake s relationship to his father and his growing up in the countryside Sansom s take on the court politics and the use of legal documents in Tudor times is interesting and informative I know that my GR friend, Beata, enjoys these details as much as I do.


  5. says:

    is via R4 dramatisation Atmospheric dramatisation of C J Sansom s third Tudor crime novel featuring hunchback lawyer detective Matthew Shardlake.Autumn, 1541 King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Royal Progress to York, aiming to strike fear and awe into his rebellious northern subjects Shardlake, and his assistant Barak, arrive in the city a day ahead of the 3,000 strong procession Officially there to prepare petitions for the King, they have also been tasked with a secret mission by Archbishop Cranmer to ensure the welfare of one of the northern conspirators, Sir Edward Broderick, who is to be brought back to London for questioning in the Tower. 1 10 Tensions are running high in the city, and soon Shardlake is called to investigate a suspicious death and stumbles upon a daring plot that has the potential to shake England to its core 2 10 After settling into their living quarters, Shardlake witnesses a man fall to a terrible death and, on hearing his last words, feels sure it was than an unfortunate accident 3 10 After meeting with fellow lawyer Wrenne, Shardlake and Barak decide to go back to Oldroyd s house and see if they can find something to confirm Shardlake s suspicion that there was to the glazier s death than a terrible accident 4 10 Autumn, 1541 King Henry VIII s spectacular Royal Progress is drawing closer to York Shardlake and his assistant Barak have arrived in the city ahead of the 3,000 strong procession Officially there to prepare petitions for the King, they have also been tasked with a secret mission by Archbishop Cranmer to ensure the welfare of one of the conspirators, Sir Edward Broderick, who is to be brought back to London for questioning in the Tower.But they have become distracted from their duties by the mysterious death of a local glazier, Oldroyd, and Shardlake has been attacked by an unknown assailant who then stole papers from a box found hidden in Oldroyd s house Bruised and smarting from tough questioning by Sir William Maleverer, Shardlake prepares to ride out to meet King Henry VIII.5 10 Reeling from his public humiliation at the hands of King Henry, Shardlake returns to York knowing that it will haunt him for the rest of his life His troubles aren t over, however, because an old enemy is waiting to see him Sir Richard Rich.6 10 Shardlake has been left badly shaken by the attempt upon his life Fearing for his safety, he hopes to convince Sir William Maleverer that he should be sent back to London.7 10 Shardlake, aided by his trusty assistant Barak, is determined to pursue his own investigations into Oldroyd s murder and the theft of the treasonous papers as well as to discover who has been trying to kill him Their inquiries lead them to a rough part of York, in search of information about Craike.8 10 After the second attempt upon his life, Shardlake is convinced that the stolen papers with their allegations against the King hold the key to the whole mystery.9 10 With the killer unmasked and his final duty caring for the prisoner, Broderick almost complete, Shardlake is glad to be heading returning south with the Progress But when the ship docks in London, he receives a shocking summons 10 10 Falsely accused of treason and unable to answer the gaoler s questions, Shardlake awaits his fate in the Tower of London Can Barak convince Archbishop Cranmer that the allegations are false and save him from the torture chamber I got to hiss, boo, and shake both fists at Dickie Rich all over again Come on BBC give us the whole book series as TV drama, you have the costumes from Mantel s epic.11 Things you didn t know about King Henry VIII s Great Progress Shardlake Justin SalingerBarak Bryan DickMaleverer Stephen CritchlowRadwinter David ActonBroderick Nick UnderwoodWrenne Geoffrey WhiteheadCraike Patrick BrennanRich Chris PavloInnkeeper Mark Edel Hunt


  6. says:

    The third in the Matthew Shardlake series takes us to York , in the midst of Henry VIII s brutal supression of Northern England known as the Progress.Matthew Sharlake comes face to face with Henry s reign of terror and the machinations of his henchman such as the conniving Sir Richard Rich the book revealing Henry as a cruel tyrant , while discovering embaraasing facts that put his life in danger , and keep us speculating in an excellent cross between historical and detective novel.The sights , sounds and smells of Tudor England are brought to life as are the violent conflict in the England at the time between traditionalists and reformers in the church , the repercusions of which would continue for centuries to come , to rock England and cause wars and turmoil.In this novel we read of the tragic fate of Catherine Howard , Henry s fifth young wife.Also interesting is the story of Jack Barak , and his secret Jewish ancestry.Barak , a brawling street boy who , became a clerk to Thomas Cromwell , is constantly by Shardlake s side , and in this novel, finds the love of the pretty and pert Tamasin Reedbourne , and attendant to noblewoman Mistress Jennet Marlin , who herself is a central character in the intrigue.Great characterization and a fast paced story line which provides for a compelling read.


  7. says:

    This is the third Matthew Shardlake novel, following on from Dissolution and Dark Fire Shardlake is now a much established character, with Jack Barak as his foil and sidekick, and this is a much assured novel which, considering how excellent the first two books are is very impressive It is 1541 and, after the fall of Cromwell, Shardlake has gone back to his law practice and has taken Barak on to work with him They are not the only ones to remember Thomas Cromwell though it is rumoured that the King himself regrets losing such a loyal and competent servant Shardlake had hoped his days of being involved in the Court are behind him, but he is asked by no less than Archbishop Cranmer, who had been told by Cromwell himself of his discretion, to escort a prisoner from York to London.Henry is making a Progress in the North A conspirator, Sir Edward Broderick, is being sent from York to the Tower of London and Shardlake is told to ensure he arrives safely within the Tower walls However, shortly after arriving in York, Shardlake hears a scream and finds a glazier has been killed Before he dies, he tells Shardlake, no child of Henry and Catherine Howard can ever be true heir Unwillingly, Shardlake is told to investigate by Maleverer a crony of his old enemy Richard Rich Soon, Shardlake is trapped in an unenviable situation forced to deal with a conspiracy which strikes at the very heart of the succession to the throne, embroiled in treason and with his life in increasing danger, whilst also having to try to keep Broderick alive and well in order to face torture in London The characters in this novel are a mix of real and fictional, but they are all so well cast, that it is impossible to say which is which There is the sadistic jailer, Radwinter, Jennet Marlin, a member of the Queen s servants, young Tamasin Reedbourne, who catches Barak s eye, Lady Rochester former wife of George Boleyn the new young Queen Catherine, who is way out of her depth, the arrogant young men who surround her, including Culpepper and Dereham, and the elderly lawyer, Giles Wrenne, who befriends Shardlake Indeed, Shardlake needs a friend in this book With Barak busy being in love, under pressure from Maleverer and Rich, with several attempts on his life and humiliated by King Henry himself, this really makes you face the reality of the Tudor world We are taken behind the pomp to the backstage of Court life, from the grandeur of the King to the vicious reality of power even to the real fear and horror of torture in the dungeons beneath the Tower itself A wonderful read in a brilliant series.


  8. says:

    This is such a good series Let me quote the comment from the Sunday Times on the cover of the book So compulsive that,until you reach the final page, you ll have to be almost physically prised away from it I so agree I just wanted to curl up in a corner somewhere and read until I had finished all 653 pages of it without stopping Of course life isn t like that and I did have to put it down but I rushed back to it as soon as I could every time In this episode Thomas Cromwell has gone to his maker and Matthew now reports to Archbishop Cranmer The author s descriptions of Tudor England seem so realistic and the hardships and brutality of life at that time ring very true Beautifully written, an intriguing story and believable characters what could you want An easy five stars.


  9. says:

    4.5 sThis should have been an out and out 5 star score from me, but I ve deducted a half for the patchy editing It is a shame that a best selling writer of the calibre of C.J Sansom does not get the 5 star treatment from his editorial team.Having said that, this is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery novel, suitably labyrinthine in its plot, as was so typical of the goings on in the court of Henry VIII.One of the reasons I m such a fan of the Matthew Shardlake series is the thoroughness of the research done by the author, which enriches the story in ways that stimulate the intellect while satisfying the emotions Googling Sansom, I found he has had scholarly articles published in professional journals regarding the King s Northern Progress, because so little research has been done on this topic by history academics Always in his Afterwords, Sansom indicates his references and suggests further reading for those interested in the issues.I have to confess to being a dedicated Henry hater It dismays me that recent history has lionised him as some sort of humanist Renaissance Man, and or as a stud in the bedroom Personally, I loathe not just him but the entire Tudor dynasty because they had so much blood on their hands In my eyes, Henry is a cold blooded killer, although he may never have wielded the murder weapon himself There is an old saying Absolute power corrupts absolutely , and that definitely applies to Henry VIII, Mary and Elizabeth I All in the name of religion, but really to fulfil their own greedy ambitions and craving for supremacy.So it is with great glee I read the Shardlake books which show the real effects of Henry VIII s policies, schemes and whims on the court, parliament and general population of England in the 1530s and 1540s Third in the series, Sovereign takes the closest look yet at Henry himself And it is not a pretty picture Following the fall and execution of his former mentor Thomas Cromwell, Shardlake is charged by Archbishop Cranmer to accompany the king s Northern Progress to York, to replace a lawyer who had died suddenly Also he was given a private task, to escort a religious rebel, Sir Edward Broderick, safely back to London to face legal proceedings Shortly after his arrival in York, accompanied by his loyal retainer, Jack Barak, Shardlake is embroiled in controversy and murder There is an amazing, vivid description of the arrival of the Progress in York heralds, horses, courtiers, officials, all richly dressed, and conducting themselves in a courtly manner as respect for the all powerful monarch and his queen, Catherine Howard number 5 On the approach to York town, Henry VIII encounters Shardlake and insults him in public for his deformity Not long after that, Shardlake narrowly escapes being killed by a metal spike deliberately launched at him by an unknown person.This is not the only attempt on Shardlake s life during the course of the novel, and there are deaths, conspiracies and secrets aplenty for him to contend with, as the Progress stalls in York for many days Several unpleasant characters emerge as the story unfolds, including the harsh gaoler, Radwinter, the scheming power broker Sir William Maleverer, the fierce tempered servant Jennet Marlin and the bitchy Lady in Waiting, Jane Rochford They vex Shardlake and Barak, throwing all sorts of obstacles, both literal and figurative, in the path of their investigations A key narrative thread throughout the novel is the dangerous information that the Tudor claim to the English throne is invalid, and that Henry VIII is the grandson of a bastard Shardlake finds then loses some documents that relate to this proposition, and his safety is threatened several times as various scheming individuals try to get the information from him to satisfy their own aims The resolution of this plot line at the end of the book was fascinating and gave me much food for thought.This is a long book, and its pages contain many twisting plot lines, to which the reader must pay attention So it is not a quick, easy read, but rather a slow burner, a book that takes its time to develop its themes and reveal its intrigues The prose is easy and accessible, and the language is highly descriptive As with earlier Shardlake books, Sansom has the ability to recreate the smells, sounds and sights of 16th century England with great credibility In this instalment, much attention is paid to imprisonment and torture, which makes for uncomfortable reading on occasion But by the same token, it is not a bad thing to be reminded of the brutality of the legal system as it existed in earlier centuries, and be grateful for what we have now Above all, I came away from the book thinking about the low value placed on human life in that era, and the arbitrariness with which one s life could be terminated so abruptly.


  10. says:

    SOVEREIGN Historical England 1541 VGSansom, C.J 3rd in seriesMacmillan, 2006 Hardcover Lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak are sent to York to ensure the welfare of a prisoner being returned to London for interrogation Matthew is also to assist with processing legal partitions King Henry VIII during the King s Progress to York When local glazier is killed, Matthew and Jack uncover a locked box containing several papers, including a genealogical chart Before Matthew has a chance to review all the papers, he is attacked and the box taken Other attacks follow and Matthew must uncover who is behind them and what is the secret that could topple a King s throne Sansom has a talent of writing both a very good, suspenseful mystery while involving the reader in the life and politics of the time Rather than portraying a romantic view of historic England, Sansom conveys the harshness of living conditions, the brutality of the justice of the time and the unrest and uncertainty due to Henry s striving for an heir and causing the religious division of the time Matthew is a wonderful character with a strong belief in doing what s right, he s nicely offset by Barak greater willingness to bend the rules Matthew is also a very human character who can be stubborn, petty and jealous Although the dialogue is a bit awkward at times as it is strictly neither period nor modern, only a couple times did I find that distracting This is a series I read in order, but if you enjoy history brought to life, I highly recommend Sansom.