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1,817 of 1,826 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rose by another name....and a list
I agree with previous reviewers that when you start out on this novel part of you is thinking "is this just a re-hash of The Name of the Rose" - no it isn't, it has many echoes, or should that be Eco's, of that great novel but is an of itself as absorbing, if not quite as high in writing style or rich in semiology.

As a frequent buyer from Amazon I always find...
Published on 6 Mar 2010 by Mr

versus
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shardlake set's off (but quite slowly)
Dissolution is the first book in historical novelist C.J. Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series. This book is a medieval whodunnit, set in the reign of Henry VIII shortly after the beheading of Anne Boleyn and during the collapse of the traditional Catholic Church in England. Shardlake is set the task of uncovering the murderer of a fellow government official at Scarnsea...
Published on 1 Feb 2008 by B. J. Madeley


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1,817 of 1,826 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rose by another name....and a list, 6 Mar 2010
By 
Mr (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dissolution (The Shardlake Series) (Paperback)
I agree with previous reviewers that when you start out on this novel part of you is thinking "is this just a re-hash of The Name of the Rose" - no it isn't, it has many echoes, or should that be Eco's, of that great novel but is an of itself as absorbing, if not quite as high in writing style or rich in semiology.

As a frequent buyer from Amazon I always find it frustrating that coming to a series of novels it isn't always that clear in which order one should read them, yes you can sometimes tell by publication date - but these can often be just as confusing...so here for the new C J SANSOM fans is a list in order of their series to 2012, should you wish to rattle off the series before the next publication...

Dissolution (2003), ISBN 1-4050-0542-4
Dark Fire (2004), ISBN 1-4050-0544-0
Sovereign (2006), ISBN 1-4050-5048-9
Revelation (2008) ISBN 1-4050-9272-2
Heartstone (2010) ISBN 0307356183
Lamentation (2014) ISBN-10: 0230744192

Hope that helps some of you...and it maybe something Amazon could consider doing on the author page?
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well Structured Plot, 12 Feb 2008
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I enjoyed this story very much. It will certainly please the myriads of historical crime novel readers. Period crime novels are probably at their highest level for many years and this is certainly one of the better ones. Not a classic but certainly a very enjoyable and interesting read.

1537 and the English Reformation is in full swing. Lord Thomas Cromwell Vicar-General of his majesty King Henry VIII is ready and willing to shut down any papist institutions he can find. When one of his commissioners is found beheaded at a remote Benedictine monastery, Cromwell sends another, the lawyer, Matthew Shardlake to investigate the murder . . .

The author gives an excellent portrayal of the corruption that abounded in England during the reign of Henry VIII. His plot is well structured and his characters charismatic and believable.
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126 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, exciting - a great book, 5 Oct 2004
I also bought this book on a whim in an airport - and was delighted to find a new author I hope to read much more of. The book itself is a great murder mystery - plenty of twists, without losing its credibility, and simply a superb story.
On top of this though, it's a great picture of a time of enormous change in England - although I knew the basics of the dissolution of the monasteries, this really brings everything to life, and although there is plenty of detail for those who like their history, it never becomes dry or boring.
Quite simply, this is one of the most gripping and readable books I've picked up for quite a while, and I'll be recommending it far and wide.
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250 of 258 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically rooted, gripping story, a whodunnit with real verve, 12 April 2007
By 
Mark Meynell "quaesitor" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
To begin with i thought this was just a pastiche of Eco's Name of the Rose: Monastery in winter, dodgy monks, murders and a beautiful young girl with an unusual detective plus honourable apprentice (even Aristotle's lost work On Comedy makes an appearance). But this is set a few centuries later and is firmly rooted in the Tudor terrors at the time of Dissolution of the Monasteries. National politics and the reformation are the sword of Damocles that hang over the monastery throughout. What is so exciting and satisfying is the way (rather like Eco did) that national politics and scandals are interwoven naturally into the goings on in this remote monastery on the South Coast. Henry VIII exists as an invisible presence throughout; the nearest we get to him is his ruthless and foul henchman, Thomas Cromwell. But his lethal authority and whims are stamped on every page.

The hero of the piece is Matthew Shardlake who finds himself having to do Cromwell's bidding. He is a believable character, idealistic but flawed, given to blindspots and jealousies - but he acknowledges all these, especially as he recognises that to have remained neutral could have helped find the culprits sooner and thus prevented more deaths.

This is a great read - and brings a dark chapter of England's history to life. There are no easy answers - and the rights and wrongs of the period are not so categorically stated that the reader is drawn inevitably to either 'papists' or 'reformers'. A tour de force.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding read!!!!, 15 Aug 2007
By 
Graham (staffs England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dissolution (The Shardlake Series) (Paperback)
i read this book after having read sovereign but luckly there is no continuing plot!!!! the story itself i found took longer to get into and seemed less epic than sovereign but once the storyline grips you then your in for an amazing treat. Shardlake is a strong believable character and the character relationships and plots and sub-plots blew me away. masterfully told this book has everything a must read well worth the time and money
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another majestic history tale, 30 Aug 2007
By 
J. Holliday "Saminblack" (Bath, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dissolution (The Shardlake Series) (Paperback)
This is the third book I have read by CJ Sansom and it is probably the best yet. I started with Sovereign, the third in the (detective) Shardlake series, which impressed me enormously and then enjoyed Madrid, although I felt it didn't quite have the authenticity of the Middle Ages material. So, it was back to Shardlake again for this, his debut tale, and very enjoyable it was too. As with Sovereign I felt I was learning things about the period without ever being lectured to or patronised and I liked the Monty Python and the Holy Grail style 'don't spare their blushes, tell it like it is' approach to the smells and sights of this pretty grotty time (I felt as though I could actually whiff those monks on occasions). So, a good, strong whodunit, a great piece of historical fiction and a great insight into the religion, politics, corruption and general evil at hand during Henry's reign. Best of all though is the character of the main man himself - Shardlake. At times I really didn't like him and I admire the way the author has refused to make this basically decent, but flawed, man someone who is far from being a saint. Good stuff.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put down, 29 Aug 2004
This is a really fascinating book that evokes well the period and gives insight into the mind of a Commissioner tasked with the dissolution of a particular monastery. We are caught between a reformers zeal and the conscience of a man, who over time, begins to lose his original beliefs in the integrity of his master,Lord Cromwell and the whole reform movement.
I found the characters very believable and like a good book, felt a slight loss when I had come to the end, having become fond of the main character. The end is not at all disappointing and gave me a sense of mourning for the loss of England's great monasteries and the spiritual ideal which they sought to attain. At one point, one of the characters comments on the long-term effect the loss of the monastic life will have in the future - an obsession with materialism and little else. Interesting!
Excellent book, not only for its historical interest but also as a crime novel that leads you guessing until the end.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dissolution, 23 Dec 2004
By 
Although I tried very hard to make this book stretch out over the Christmas season (all those descriptions of deep snow...) I unfortunately finished it 3 days before purely and simply because I couldn't put it down. Having recently visited the ruined Fountains Abbey, the vivid description of an abbey pre-dissolution was really interesting. I'd worked out who the killer was before it was revealed, however, but like any good book, there's a twist which I hadn't anticipated... Being in the first person, this book really makes you feel as if you were there. The mention of the abbey organ made me check out 16th century church organs on the Internet which was very interesting - I didn't realise they were around then, but yes they were. Also checked out the history of other abbeys like the amazing Buckfast Abbey. Can't wait for the sequel to come out in paperback. Like the idea of having one chapter from the sequel at the end to get the juices flowing...
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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Muder in the Monastary, 3 Mar 2005
By 
Mrs. D. J. Smith "eowyngreenleaf" (Luton, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I'd had this book for a while, it was one I'd picked up in a publishers clearance shop. I thought it looked as if it might be OK to amuse myself for a few hours at some point. Now I have finally got around to reading it, I'm sorry I didn't read it before! It's well written, feels historically authentic and there are excellent characters and a really gripping mystery to boot! It's interesting that the 'hero', Commissioner Matthew Shardlake, is a hunchback and is sent to investigate the brutal murder of an official in a monastery, around about the time Henry VIII and Cromwell are starting to dissolve the monasteries, with the lesser ones already having gone. At this period, any physical impairment was seen as a judgement from God on that individual, so our hero has prejudice to struggle against on top of everything else! A really good read it put me a little in mind of Sharon Penman's Justin de Quincy books - highly recommended! Probably not for the squeamish though - it's a bit graphic in places.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel approach, and an excellent novel!, 14 July 2005
By 
Chris Chalk "Chris" (Croydon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I picked this book up on a whim, read the back cover and decided to give it a go. Thank goodness I did.
This is a fantastic novel, one of the best of the genre, and when I saw the genre, I do mean a book that can fit into a straight up crime / detective novel, as well as a "faction" (fact and fiction) style novel. The historical setting of the dissolution of the monasteries of England is excellent, CJ Samson really grabs the feel and style of the late 1530's. He has an ability to really make the reader feel as if they are there, in the middle of England smelling the smells, seeing the sights and being wrapped up in the social feelings of the time.
The story is set around Matthew Shardlake, a gifted lawyer with the unfortunate affliction of being a hunchback. Misunderstood by the people of the age, he is though respected through his position within the community. A position bolstered by his connections to none other than Thomas Cromwell himself. This allegiance though forces Shardlake into an investigation into a brutal murder in Scarnsea where he meets a number of the residing Monks. As a reformist he naturally distrusts these servants of god and quickly goes about his investigation. Through his subsequent friendship with a maid and Brother Guy you see him change, evolve if you will, as a character giving the reader a real sense of empathy and an insight into how no situation is ever black and white.
This really is an excellent read, and the follow up "Dark Fire" is no less impressive. I would strongly advise anyone with an interest in well written books to pick this one up, it is worth the time spent on it and you never know,you might even learn something from it.
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Dissolution (The Shardlake Series)
Dissolution (The Shardlake Series) by C. J. Sansom (Paperback - 18 May 2007)
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