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Lots of details on atmosphere; little plot
on 17 June 2013
Having enjoyed most of Paul Doherty's works, I looked forward to receiving this venture into the final days of Henry VIII, and have to admit it left me very disappointed. The Kindle edition does not have pages, but, at 20% read, we still hadn't got beyond Will Somers' notes in his journal, and they made pretty turgid reading. The occasional phrase took me back to the personality of Roger Shallot, in the series written as Michael Clynes, but I have to agree with the reviewer given a review copy that the characterisation is not up to Dr Doherty's usual standard, and it was hard to feel anything towards any of the main protagonists. The first stirrings of life and involvement didn't appear until 33%. There were all the usual descriptions of life, sound, and smells of Tudor London, but the book was overly full of them, the padding seeming to replace the story, which was a very thin one, despite the excitement and trepidation which must have occupied all at Court, at whatever level, during those tempestuous days.
The tone of the writing seemed quite coarse, with what appeared like great delight on the author's part when describing in far too great - and unnecessary - detail the tortures, disembowellings, deaths by fire, cruelty to humans and animals and even Henry VIII's bowel movements! There was considerable information about life at the time, but, since no mention was made about people's incomes, I felt the list of costs for differing foodstuffs was rather pointless - and why were the prices listed as 8p, 5p, etc: would they not have been "d"??
While accustomed to seeing words such as 'samite' used, I had doubts that 'capathol water', 'rasis', or 'craul' actually served any useful purpose, but, rather, distanced the reader. I also felt that some phrases needed editing: 'luxuriously opulent'; 'luxurious hair'; teeth described as 'yellowing black stumps'.
While the story did speed up a little towards the end, I found the book a disappointment, and not up to the standard I've come to expect from the author, to the extent that I won't be keeping it on my Kindle, and am very grateful that I didn't invest more money buying the hardback.