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Sovereign (The Shardlake Series) Hardcover – Unabridged, 18 Aug 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Main Market Ed. edition (18 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405050489
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405050487
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 4.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (590 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,110 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


'Don’t open this book if you have anything urgent’ll
have to be almost physically prised away from it.' -- The Sunday Times

'Historical crime fiction at its best.’ -- Sainsbury’s magazine

'I was enthralled by Sovereign' -- PD James, Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph

'Sansom is excellent on contemporary horrors...You can lose
yourself in this world.' -- The Independent

'So compulsive that, until you reach its final page, you’ll have
to be almost physically prised away from it.’ -- Sunday Times

'This is a compelling read, vividly capturing the atmosphere of
constant fear' -- Sunday Telegraph

'deeper, stronger and subtler than most novels in this genre..The
series is becoming an annual treat' -- Independent on Sunday

It’s deeper, stronger and subtler than most novels in this genre
(including Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose) . . . ‘ -- Independent on Sunday

This gripping and engaging series seems ominously prescient about
the present, as well as genuinely enlightening about the past’ -- Independent on Sunday

‘This series just gets better and better’ -- Bookseller

Book Description

The third novel in the compelling Shardlake series

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

198 of 204 people found the following review helpful By I. Curry VINE VOICE on 22 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
In what looks like being the final book of a trilogy, C J Sansom brings out long-suffering lawyer Matthew Shardlake for another mystery thriller set against the impeccably researched background of a vivid, tumultuous and colourful Tudor England.

Sansom has set this trio of books in the reign of Henry VIII, and in this book the lawyer gets closer than he would otherwise care to the dangerous monarch. His old promoter and task-master, Cromwell, has already fallen out of the King's favour, being despatched before being lamented. Shardlake is therefore surprised to find him being sought out to perform more missions in the royal service.

In this book he is working for Archbishop Cranmer, the reforming Archbishop of Canterbury and pivotal figure in the religious, social and political history of the turbulent reformation times. His mission is to head to York and meet up with the King's Progress. This mighty procession of monarchical majesty is designed to impress and cow the rebellious northerners, who have only just been settled after the Pilgrimage of Grace uprising.

Shardlake, always seeking an easy life, is assured his job will simply be to help a fellow lawyer with the pleas before the King. Naturally not all goes to plan, and the unwilling lawyer is thrust into a dangerous and gripping thriller which threatens to undermine the very essence of the Tudor dynasty, the very essence of Sovereignty.

I am not usually a big fan of historical fiction. It is often used as a vehicle by poor writers to give their bland prose a splash of factual colour, a "bodice ripping thriller", as Blackadder might say. But C J Sansom is very different.
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133 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Eugene Onegin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
If you are already familiar with the Shardlake series you will need no second invitation to acquire this volume, as it is every bit as good as the previous two. However, if you are new to the adventures of Sansom's humane Tudor lawyer then be assured you are in for a treat. Historical whodunits are ten a penny these days, but ones of this quality are much rarer. Sansom's great skill is to evoke the England of Henry VIII so convincingly that you not only see the scenes of that ancient time but also feel them. The smells, spectacles, landscapes, characters and language of the time come truly alive and hence are an integral part of the novel's appeal. Onto this rich canvas, a complex tale of intrigue, betrayal, political rivalry, and murder is expertly woven focussing on real historical events-in this case The Royal Progress of 1541 and attendant conspiracy alongside the troubled reign of Queen Katherine Howard. Every aspect of the plot is related to the issues of the day (the author holds a PhD in History) and the set piece encounters of his fictional characters with the the era's most powerful figures are full of tension and import, consequently one learns much even as the story grips you. Yet this erudition never stifles the plot which is full of incident and moves at a cracking pace: there is none of Umberto Eco's intellectual showboating or Ellis Peters' genteel scene setting here: this is the sixteenth century in all its vibrancy, stink, and duplicity. It is also worth observing that Sansom writes well, his prose is pleasing and flows effortlessly so that a 600 plus page tome seems shorter than many half its length. In short this is a fine piece of writing which just also happens to be a thriller and one that affords the reader that very special pleasure when returning home at the end of a hard day you rub your hands and think `I can continue with Sovereign tonight'. All avid readers will understand what I mean.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Spuddler on 26 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of the Shardlake books and this is the best to date. The story is gripping - set aside a weekend when you won't be interrupted to read this because you won't be able to put it down. I love the sense of place and atmosphere - I feel as if I am there in York with Shardlake and Barak. Shardlake has to present petitions to Henry and to safeguard the welfare of a prisoner and then finds himself (with Barak)involved in investigating the death of a glazier. The language creates a strong sense of the smells, the people, the mutual suspicions between the southern visitors and the hosts, the casual barbarity of everyday life and the sense of a world turned upside down.

I have enjoyed all Sansom's Tudor mysteries but he has reached a pinnacle with this one. There are several stories happening at once and many layers of intrigue and deception, all of which keep you guessing. Characterisation is strong and vivid and an old world is brought to life in technicolour. I wished it would go on forever. I can't wait for the next one.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By The Wanderer on 5 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
"Sovereign" opens in the autumn of 1541, just as King Henry VIII is approaching York on his Great Progress, a show of power and majesty designed to overawe the restless northerners who rose against him five years previously. Matthew Shardlake, the hunchbacked lawyer, has also been sent to York by Archbishop Cranmer, primarily to assist the lawyers in presenting pleas to the king, but also on a special mission: to oversee the return to London of a dangerous prisoner, a one-time conspirator named Broderick. While Shardlake is in York, however, the death of a glazier leads to the uncovering of a fresh conspiracy against King Henry. As he delves deeper into the mystery, however, he begins to put his own life in danger.

I came to "Sovereign" without having read either of the previous two in the Shardlake series, but thankfully I did not feel that this was required in order to follow the plot. The book has the feel of a political thriller, with a cast of characters jostling for position in the kingdom and Shardlake caught in the middle. The pace is kept up and at no stage did my attention wander from the page. In the last 150 pages, as the story approached its climax, I did start to find myself swamped by the number of characters and all their complex interrelationships. Nevertheless, I didn't feel that this detracted too much from what is a fine novel full of intrigue and action, and the resolution - when it arrives - is both surprising and fitting.

C.J. Sansom has a PhD in History and has clearly researched his period well.
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