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Dark Fire (The Shardlake Series) [Paperback]

C. J. Sansom
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

18 May 2007 The Shardlake Series (Book 2)

It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered – the formula has disappeared.

Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .

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Dark Fire (The Shardlake Series) + Sovereign: 3 (The Shardlake Series) + Dissolution (The Shardlake Series)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 595 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; paperback / softback edition (18 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330450786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330450782
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

Product Description


C. J. Sansomas highly atmospheric and well-crafted sixteenth-century thriller... vividly describes the turbidity of Tudor London. (Jasper Fforde)

About the Author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
219 of 222 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent sequel to Dissolution - recommended 20 Feb 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having raced through DIssolution last weekened, I'm thrilled to discover Dark Fire, also featuring the hunchback Tudor lawyer Matthew Shardlake, just as compelling. Set three years after the events of the first novel, it has the honest barrister once again forced to work for Lord Cromwell - a man who still strikes terror into all, but who is on the verge of losing his power and his head thanks to his attempts to shore up Henry Vlll's dismal marriage to Anne of Cleves. Cromwell intervenes to allow a young girl, accused of murdering her cousin, two weeks' grace in order for Shardlake to track down the secret of "Greek Fire", a fearsome weapon believed to have been rediscovered by two alchemists, now brutally murdered. To assist him in this Shardlake not only has the enchanting Arab physician (now apothecary) and former monk, Brother Guy, but a Jewish man, Barak, loyal to Cromwell. Their difficult relationship and reluctant respect for each other form a most entertaining and thoughful part of a race against time to solve two murder cases. Once again, what is so captivating about this new star of historical fiction is the intelligence and compassion with which he writes. I highly recommend this to all who love really good detective fiction, historical fiction and an intelligent, literate novel that does not disdain a strong plot and characters.
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123 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling stuff 7 Sep 2007
If you have even a passing interest in historical fiction, particularly Tudor London, and you enjoy a gripping mystery replete with twists, turns and colourful characters, you're likely to have a good time with this book. C.J. Sansom's Shardlake character is a little on the obvious side, with his pure heart and indefatigability overcoming the constraints of his flawed physical being (he's a hunchback lawyer in case you're wondering). Still, it's impossible not to become enthralled by this tale of political intrigue and murder with its adroit descriptions of the machinations of the nobility, corrupt lawyers and officials, and vivid portrayal of the sights and sounds of Tudor London. To my mind, one of the best compliments a book like this can have is that it makes you want buy the next one before you've even finished it, just to be able to delve straight back into Shardlake's world.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding historical imagery 14 Feb 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are three elements to this excellent book.

The title story is a vaguely credible political thriller about Cromwell's last days attempting to cling on to power.

The intrigue running in parallel with this is the investigation of a child's murder with a fascinating picture of the values that were held in the sixteenth century in relation to criminal law.

The background throughout is the stage itself - mid-Tudor London, with a focus on the Inns of Court, but a marvellous view of the commercial, residential, social and institutional elements of London at the time, with all the smells, contexts, sights and horrors that Sansom vividly portrays.

I rate each of these elements highly. The background is first rate - double-starred. As a barrister I was fascinated by the proceedings at both the civil and criminal courts in Westminster and London. The crime itself was not difficult to work out, but that's by the by in the context of how the authorities view it. The political background is great although the concept of "Dark Fire" itself was a bit daft. Without giving too much away, it seems inconceivable that the French or Spanish at the time hadn't already got it.

The history and the setting is six stars. Therefore an overall five.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising! 16 Aug 2005
At first sight I did not think I would like this book. Following a recommendation from a friend I decided to read it and am very glad I did. The author creates the sense of belonging to another age whilst conveying ruthlessness, evil behaviour, religious tension and more within the context of a gripping story of murder and intrigue. This book deserves to be up the charts and once it gets onto the radar of the avid reader I think this will be seen on many tubes and trains in the coming months.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read 15 Feb 2005
I thought Darkfire was a terrific book. It is very well researched and the descriptions of the characters are quite superb. The main character, Matthew Shardlake, is a hunchback lawyer and he is very convincing. A clever and honest man plunged into a nightmare web of murder and treachery. He has an "assistant" forced on him by Thomas Cromwell and the relationship between the two is dealt with very well.
An extremely believable image of a dark and menacing 16th century London is created. The themes of cruelty, greed, social advancement and religious intolerance all come through strongly.
Many of the characters in the novel seem untrustworthy, slippery, greedy or just plain nasty. I see the author had worked as a solicitor and I just wonder if he has clients or former work colleagues at the back of his mind ! I just hope the author has more adventures in store for Matthew Shardlake !
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Shardlake Tale 21 Oct 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is another cracking little story from Sansom. I had really liked Dissolution the first book, I had enjoyed it immensely and was looking forward to this one.Dark Fire is a little gem. It has a great story very well tied into the Tudor times. Its full of the political intrigue of the era and life of the people.
Shardlakes detective work is excellent and its very well done they way the strand of Elizabeth is worked into the Dark Fire mystery. I hope we get at least another Shardlake Tale out of Sansom. I think Henry the VIII has two more wifes to go.
I'd highly recommend the book and Dissolution too if you come across it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical functioned of the highest quality
A truly ripping yarn which, even if you work out the plot, just forces you to savour every last adjective
Published 1 day ago by eileen mcdonald
4.0 out of 5 stars Took this book on holiday and it was totally absorbing ...
Took this book on holiday and it was totally absorbing and entertaining, whilst not being too taxing on the holiday brain! A well constructed fast moving story. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Caro
4.0 out of 5 stars Tudor Detective Triumphs
I enjoy all the Shardlake Series. The characterization is excellent I can see the characters: particularly Shardlake and Barac. I also trust the author's historical knowledge. Read more
Published 3 days ago by VMS
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
just a wonderful read
Published 6 days ago by Sara Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant read
Published 6 days ago by Johnboy 10
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent page turner again
So many twists and turns. You feel you are there in Tudor time
Published 7 days ago by Anne Beagley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Next in the series, still grips the reader!
Published 14 days ago by Mr. R.N.E. Rixon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a good read
Published 17 days ago by John Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars caught my interest; created a realistic atmosphere of the ...
caught my interest;created a realistic atmosphere of the times with a suspenseful story.
Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Like all the Shardlake stories it is easy reading and good escapisum
Published 18 days ago by Peter Lourie
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