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Lamentation (The Shardlake Series Book 6) by [Sansom, C. J.]
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Lamentation (The Shardlake Series Book 6) Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 2,474 customer reviews

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Review

This gripping new novel by the inventive C. J. Sansom shows that, when it comes to intriguing Tudor-based narratives, Hilary Mantel has a serious rival. Mantel isn't the only novelist to keep the Tudor flag flying in the bestseller lists. The first two novels in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy - Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up the Bodies (2012) - have won phenomenal acclaim as well as two Man Booker prizes. But years before she began that enterprise C. J. Sansom had embarked on a brilliantly inventive Tudor fiction sequence, whose five novels have brought him an enormously enthusiastic and widespread readership, too. Like Mantel's, Sansom's first two novels - Dissolution (2003) and Dark Fire (2004) - are set during Cromwell's time as Henry VIII's chief minister. But, in contrast to her mannered approach and enthralled fixation on Cromwell, his fiction has a far faster narrative pace and fans out across a much broader field. Ingeniously, it achieves this by combining a keen scholarly intelligence with the suspense and surprises of the detective genre. A Scottish historian who had a career in law before turning to fiction, Sansom finds an ideal protagonist in Matthew Shardlake, the humane hunchbacked lawyer-sleuth in his Tudor novels. He also finds the Tudor period intensely congenial to his imagination. Atmospheres of oppression and wariness, in which careless words or an ill-advised allegiance can be fatal, engross Sansom. Exploring different types of fiction, he has published two non-Tudor novels - Winter in Madrid (2006), a spy story located in the traumatised Spanish capital after the civil war, and Dominion (2012), an "alternate history" set in a 1952 Britain which is a dingy satellite of the Third Reich. Franco and Hitler loom over terrorised societies in both these books. In his Tudor novels, Henry VIII does so. A 16th-century portrait of Catherine Parr: Sansom is fascinated by Henry VIII's sixth wife. Sansom likes to vary his fiction's forms, and the Shardlake novels range from a closed-community whodunit in a snowbound monastery (Dissolution) to the quest for a deadly weapon of war (Dark Fire), a political thriller (Sovereign, 2006), a serial-killer story (Revelation, 2008) and a legal thriller (Heartstone, 2010). What unites them is the havoc wreaked by Henry VIII's brutal ideological vacillations, as the nation is ripped apart by sectarian fanaticism and splendours of ecclesiastical architecture are reduced to rubble . . . Partly a detective story as Shardlake solves the how and why of the theft, partly a thriller with casualties mounting in the search for the book's whereabouts, partly a panoramic re-creation of the turbulent London of 1546, from the court's gilded warren of intrigue to publishers' makeshift huts in the shadow of St Paul's, Lamentation is sure to give Sansom's many fans further cause for jubilation. (Sunday Times)

Shardlake's back and better than ever . . . The plot and pacing make this the best Shardlake yet . . . it is a vision of how individuals find the moral courage to fight injustice which links the Shardlake novels to Sansom's other fictions, Winter in Madrid and Dominion. Lamentation, like its predecessors, is a triumph both as detective fiction and as a novel . . . Sansom's deep feeling for the psychology of religious faith and for the defenceless, makes him, in my view superior to Hilary Mantel. (Independent on Sunday)

Lamentation starts with the burning of heretics, and the smell of fear and dissent infuses the whole novel . . . Sansom is highly skilled at weaving together the threads of his plot with the real and riveting history . . . Lamentation is a wonderful, engaging read. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion is brilliantly rendered. Shardlake is always convincing, and he is endearingly battle-scarred and weary from his earlier adventures. The real characters are well drawn, especially Catherine Parr and the young Elizabeth, who makes a striking cameo appearance. Sansom cleverly keeps the king just off stage for most of the novel. We can sense him lurking in the shadows - a monstrously obese and malevolent presence. As the plot draws to a clever and satisfying conclusion, Sansom gives us a clue about where the king's death will take Shardlake; and it is a spine-tingling prospect. (The Times)

As always, Sansom conjures the atmosphere, costumes and smells of Tudor London with vigour, from the gilded halls of Whitehall Palace to the dungeons of the Tower . . . once Shardlake finds himself in real jeopardy [the novel] quickly picks up pace, all the way to a shocking climax that promises to mark a new chapter for Shardlake, and for England. (Observer)

Sansom brilliantly conveys the uncertainty of the time when a frail young prince would ascend the throne with different factions fighting for regency . . . Sansom has the gift of plunging us into the different worlds of the period: the premises of a struggling young printer whose only asset is his press, a dangerous possession when this newfangled invention could implicate the printer in treason and heresy . . . There is a sadness about this novel which suggests that Shardlake's own world is breaking up - his great companion, Barak, who provides the physical strength the disabled lawyer lacks, gets into fearful straits - but it ends on a hopeful note for the many followers of this splendid series, which combines the imaginative insights of fiction with scholarly research. We see Shardlake carried safely downriver to join the budding court of the young Elizabeth, auguring well for his future. (Independent)

So engrossing is the tale that I didn't pause long enough to take a note. Even when judged by the high standards of the earlier Shardlake novels, this one stands out - not least because it successfully maintains suspense for over 600 pages . . . It is a mark of authorial self-discipline that Sansom wears his considerable historical research lightly, subordinating it to character and action. As in the earlier volumes, historical figures such as Richard Rich and the young William Cecil are successfully evoked without typecasting or self-indulgence disguised as empathy. There are also some memorable minor characters, such as the tragic and vexatious litigant, Isabel Slanning, who contribute to the sinuously-unfolding story in often unexpected ways. The orchestration of plot over 600 pages, and the final twist, is literary craft of a high order. Historical fiction - especially historical crime fiction - has often been regarded as a literary branchline, interesting and picturesque but not quite the real thing. This now is changing, and rightly, since the qualities required to evoke imagined historical worlds are precisely those involved in rendering the present. With the Shardlake series, and with this volume in particular, Sansom has surely established himself as one of the best novelists around. (Spectator)

This is a terrific book . . . It is a convincing account of a cruel and fascinating period and a very exciting read. (Literary Review)

...the Tudor Holmes finds himself plunged into crisis at the English Court...Sansom
recreates a fascinating era as he carries the reader along with Shardlake on his diligent and
perilous quest, criss-crossing medieval London from the luxury of the royal palaces at
Whitehall to the filthy backstreets of the city.

(Daily Mail)

...a dark and atmospheric story... Shardlake deserves his wide and rapturous readership. (Antonia Senior The Times)

Sansom has an extraordinary gift for atmosphere: he immerses the reader in the sights, sounds, smells and dreadful paranoia of life in the last days of Henry VIII . . . Utterly gripping (Marian Keyes Irish Times, Books of the Year)

Chosen as one of Antonia Fraser's Books of the Year. (Antonia Fraser)

This, the sixth of CJ Sansom's Shardlake novels, unsurprisingly went straight to the top of the bestseller list as soon as it was published. Such is their reputation. Every book is a delight, and each one that little bit better than the last... Sansom's skill as a writer , coupled with his exhaustive research, makes readers feel as if they are living in the period he is writing about. Hilary Mantel may gobble up the big literary prizes for her explorations of the complex mind of Shardlake's old boss, Thomas Cromwell, but when it comes to recreating the authentic atmosphere of 500 years ago Sansom wins hands down. (Nigel Nelson Tribune)

Packed with accurate and atmospheric historical detail... In a crowded Tudor field, this novel finds Sansom again at the top of his game. (Daily Telegraph)

Sansom's inventive Tudor fiction sequence combines a scholarly intelligence with the suspense and surprises of the detective genre... Lamentation is sure to give Sansom's many fans further cause for jubilation. (Peter Kemp Sunday Times)

Highly intelligent historical fiction and a guaranteed chart-topper (Daily Express)

Sansom cleverly keeps the king just off stage for most of the novel but we can sense his monstrously obese and malevolent presence lurking in the shadows. The threads of Sansom's plot are skilfully woven together with real and riveting history (Antonia Senior The Times)

Book Description

The eagerly anticipated Shardlake novel from the number one bestselling author.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6044 KB
  • Print Length: 658 pages
  • Publisher: Mantle; Open Market edition (23 Oct. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K6ECROM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 2,474 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #947 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I suspect that like most fans I've filled in the time waiting for C J Sansom to finish this book by reading a lot of copycat Tudor mysteries, and with so many authors and publishers scrambling to jump on the Shardlake bandwagon we're certainly spoilt for choice. But although they all look and sound the same (and some are rather good), this series is still the original and best.
This latest one is set in the dying months of Henry VIII's reign and follows the same format as the previous books: while sorting out professional and personal problems of his own, lawyer Shardlake is reluctantly drawn into investigating a mystery that could topple a monarch and cost him his life.
I have to say that I didn't find this as much of a page-turner as the others - though it would have been hard to outdo Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake 5). Shardlake goes to an awful lot of secret meetings with the Queen and has some repetitive and rather fruitless discussions about a stolen book (which never seemed that much of a threat), there's yet another sub-plot involving his dodgy servants, and he's been in the Tower before.
But that's just nitpicking: Sansom's clear and painstaking recreation of a Tudor world peopled with memorable and totally believable characters, especially narrator Shardlake, is as brilliant as ever, and it's a delight to return to it. And that superb ending - containing a couple of real shockers - more than compensates for any dull passages.
He's laid the foundations for an interesting new phase of Shardlake's career, involving Elizabeth and Cecil, and there are some turbulent years ahead: long may this series continue.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
C J Sansom is still on top form. Another riveting read from this marvellous author. Religion - that hot topic that has caused so many wars and deaths. The period is Tudor in the mid sixteenth century. Henry VIII's sixth and last wife Katherine Parr is queen and is flirting with the 'new religion'. She is a reformer, a gentle mild mannered woman, who is thrust into a pool of sharks, with many on the conservative side wanting to bring about her downfall, just as was done to other queens who were unfortunate enough to catch the eye of one of history's most brutal and volatile kings. She has been foolish enough to put her thoughts on the new religion into written form and call it the Lamentation of a Sinner. The manuscript goes missing during a fevered time when others, including women from the court were being burned at the stake and the Queen realises that she is hanging onto her position and her life by a thread. Enter Matthew Shardlake who is appointed to the Queen's council to discover what has happened to the manuscript and to obtain its return before the King gets to hear of it. Sansom's style of writing allows you to see and hear the sights and sounds of those very dangerous times when no one was safe from persecution. Your servants, your relatives, your friends - anyone could be an informer and one can feel the hot breath of the executioner's axe on one's neck. A terrific read for all lovers of Tudor history.
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By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is 1546, and an increasingly ailing Henry VIII has swung back to the traditionalist wing of the church - in fact, some fear he might be about to make amends with the Pope and take the country back to Catholicism. The constant shifts in what is seen as acceptable doctrine have left many sects, once tolerated, now at risk of being accused of heresy. And, as the story begins, Anne Askew and three other heretics are about to be burned at the stake for preaching radical Protestantism. At this dangerous time, Henry's last Queen, Catherine Parr, has written a book, Lamentations of a Sinner, describing her spiritual journey to believing that salvation can be found only through study of the Bible and the love of Christ, rather than through the traditional rites of the Church. Not quite heretical, but close enough to be used against her by the traditionalists. So when the book is stolen, Catherine calls on the loyalty of her old acquaintance, Matthew Shardlake, to find it and save her from becoming another of Henry's victims. And when a torn page turns up in the dead hand of a murdered printer, it's clear some people will stop at nothing to get hold of the book...

I have long held that Sansom is by far the best writer of historical fiction, certainly today, but perhaps ever; and I'm delighted to say that this book is, in my opinion, his best to date. A huge brick of a book, coming in at over 600 pages, and yet at no point does it flag. All the Shardlake novels are set close to the throne, with Matthew caught up as a pawn in the political machinations and religious manoeuvrings of the nobility as they jostle for power and position at court.
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In Lamentation, CJ Sansom shows again why he is one of the most popular Tudor storytellers. The characters, the setting and the dialogue are as evocative and carefully drawn as ever.

Yet unlike in previous volumes, there is a feeling that the history has taken precedence over the fiction: as is clear from his lengthy notes, Sansom has sought to bring to life the final religious tussle of Henry VIII's reign. He achieves that, but too much of it is exposition in search of a story that grips and sustains. The intrigue that is at the heart of the best in the series is mostly absent, as the jigsaw is pieced together in somewhat linear fashion and at greater length that seems necessary or dramatic.

Those who have enjoyed previous Shardlake stories will find much to entertain them here, even if the pace and excitement which characterises the best of Sansom's work is often lacking here. Hopefully the next volume will have a story that is as carefully crafted as the author's research and scholarship is meticulous.
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