3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Sorry, still not as good as you-know-who,
This review is from: The Final Sacrament (Clarenceux Trilogy 3) (Paperback)
If you like this sort of thing - historical thrillers involving secrets that could topple the Tudor throne, with lashings of period detail - then you're certainly spoilt for choice these days. After reading Sacred Treason, the first in this trilogy, I said that I'd put James Forrester towards the bottom of the pile. After reading this, he's moved up it a little, but he's still nowhere near the top - a spot which, for me, will always be occupied by CJ Sansom.
The Shardlake stories are slightly different in that they're more murder mysteries than spy thrillers, and for all I know, Forrester could have been planning his series when Matthew Shardlake was still a gleam in CJ Sansom's eye. But comparisons are inevitable, I'm afraid, and Sansom wins hands down when it comes to both character and plot - for me, he's got the knack of creating a completely authentic-seeming sixteenth century, but he fills it with situations and characters which are understandable and relevant for the twenty-first, and Forrester lacks this gift. But Clarenceux is a bit better to understand in this one, and there are good depictions of Cecil and Walsingham. But I still found the plot device (what will he do with the Boleyn/Percy marriage contract) to be paper-thin, the twists and turns to be unconvincing, and some of the characters (like the weird boy Fyndern) rather odd.
In the end it all comes down to taste, for which there's no accounting - most reviewers have given this five stars - and I just didn't like this book much. But it's well written and obviously expertly researched, so three stars.
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Initial post: 7 Jul 2013, 16:19:32 BST
I totally agree with the writer's high rating of CJS. However IMHO the two authors are not writing for the same readership. Therefore I feel that (as a certain Tudor playwright wrote) "Comparisons are odorous".
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