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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. 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 ProgressMatthew 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 novelThe 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 turmoilIn this novel we read of the tragic fate of Catherine Howard Henry's fifth young wifeAlso interesting is the story of Jack Barak and his secret Jewish ancestryBarak 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 intrigueGreat characterization and a fast paced story line which provides for a compelling read

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SovereignNot 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. 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 LondonHenry 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 ueen’s servants young Tamasin Reedbourne who catches Barak’s eye Lady Rochester – former wife of George Boleyn – the new young ueen 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

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Sansom – Autumn 1541 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 an Autumn KingAutumn 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. 45★“I looked at the little houses along Petergate and thought again of the rule preventing citizens from casting sewage in the streets or in the river while the Progress was here It would be piling up in their backyards It was symbolic of the King’s visit all glitter and show in front a pile of turds behind”My how things have changed not sadly Henry VIII’s England C J Sansom drops you straight in it stink and all I love the Matthew Shardlake series but I find I have to come up for air before diving into the next book I find I also have to forgive some glaring anachronisms in dialogue I don’t know how I get past them but I do and I remain just as immersed in the story as before the jolt of a modern phrase eg “the penny has dropped” – from the 1930s The rest rings so true that it compensates for any lapses It does mean I rounded down to 4 stars instead of up to 5 thoughHenry VIII with his new ueen Catherine Howard aged 18 their household and a cast of thousands are on a slow procession – a “progress” – to York and the North It is promoted as a good will trip but it's really Henry's show of power The peasants have to provide all the food contribute to a stash of gold to be presented to the King and put up with their fields being muddied and trashed by soldiers and others camping in them Shardlake and his young offsider Jack Barak are also on a mission for Archbishop Cranmer his former employer Thomas Cromwell having been beheaded recently who has given Shardlake his seal to assure him safe passage and entry into the city At York Castle he reports to Master Radwinter and looks out the window of his office The moat is surrounded by reeds and Radwinter explains that they are being gathered to make rushlights But who are the people standing in the water picking at their legs“ ‘They’re gathering the leeches that bite them for the apothecaries’ ‘It must be a miserable occupation standing deep in mud waiting for those things to bite’ ‘Their legs must be covered in little scars’ He turned to me his eyes looking into mine ‘As the body of England is covered in the scars left by the great leech of Rome’”No lack of occupations for those with strong stomachs it seems A rather forward uite lovely young woman cleverly contrives to meet them as she seems to have her eye on Barak and he is easily smitten Shardlake is understandably suspicious and when it transpires that she’s part of the ueen’s household he is even nervous Tamasin becomes a major character in this story as do the women she works for who report to the ueenThe King’s Progress progresses with the nobility clad in extravagant finery while the regular folk are mostly pretty grubby The divide between wealth and poverty was like the divide between humans and livestock Farmers and peasants were on the land at the pleasure of the landowners – the nobles As I mentioned before in some places things are still just as badLest I make this sound like nothing but misery and torture – oh I forgot to mention that didn’t I Yes bones hanging from a loft where a man had died slowly in chains and finally been picked clean while various body parts of other miscreants or just someone who was out of favour at the wrong time decorate bridges and pikes and fences everywhere And part of Shardlake’s assignment is to look after and transport a prisoner to London where he will be tortured in the tower Keep him alive long enough to be tortured Not what he had in mind for a career but he needs the moneyWhere was I Yes lest this sound like only misery and torture I must add that the story has plenty of intrigue plots suggested dalliances between the very young ueen 18 and her former suitors and some interesting personal developments between Shardlake Barak an elderly lawyer and Tamasin who thinks she’s the illegitimate daughter of a gentleman of importance And of course there is Shardlake's secret mission for the ArchbishopShardlake is always noticeably avoided because of his hunched back but Jack Barak can move in and out of pubs and chat to the locals But they are considered “southron heretics” so even he has to be careful The King has banned any signs of the old religion Catholic but the North hasn’t taken kindly to the message Shardlake doesn’t follow either side now but keeps that to himself Still when the King’s procession arrives and he stands with the lawyers to present the local cases he is overcomeIt was foolish I that had once had Thomas Cromwell for a friend and confronted Richard Rich and the Duke of Norfolk reduced to such a jelly Yet this was not an official or nobleman I was approaching now This was God’s anointed on earth Head of His Church guardian of the souls of three million subjects than human in his glory In those few seconds I believed it allIt's like a cult A cult devised to excuse divorce and eventually excused everything As Archbishop Cranmer says ‘The harsh measures the King takes are necessary Do not forget he is chosen by God appointed by Him to guide England into the paths of wisdom and truth’ I won’t dwell on the harsh measures but I will mention the author’s noteWhat is still true – astonishingly in the twenty first century – is that ueen Elizabeth II retains the title Henry VIII took for himself Supreme Governor of the Church of England Defender of the Faith and – in theory at least – God’s chosen representative in EnglandI’d rather her than Henry VIII as the British monarch I’m an Aussie and we’re still part of the Commonwealth but I look forward to reading of Matthew Shardlake’s adventures with that unpredictable dangerous ruler I love and recommend this series Just remove your nit picking language editor’s hat