Heartstone (The Shardlake Series) Book

Many writers jostle for position at the top of the historical crime fiction tree, but for many aficionados one novelist has maintained an assured premium position for quite some time: the British writer CJ Sansom. His sprawling, exuberant and brilliantly organised novels featuring the wily hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake are particular favourites of those who seek something a little more ambitious in the field, and it's not hard to see why. Most of Sansom’s novels (which include Dissolution, Sovereign, Dark Fire and Revelation) seem positively operatic in their sheer scale, and the vividness of which Tudor England is covered by the author makes most other writing in the genre seem footling.At over 600 pages, the new book, Heartstone, is one of his most imposing, but after a challenging, slowish start (something frequently attempted by Sansom -- like many good writers, he often demands a certain patience from his readers), the customary comprehensive grip is rigorously maintained. The invasion of France mounted by Henry VIII has been a disaster, and, in retaliation, an imposing French fleet is making preparations to cross the Channel. At Portsmouth, the English navy is readying itself for the battle of its life, and at Henry's autocratic direction, a massive militia army is being raised. England, reeling under the debasing of its currency to pay for the war, is suffering crippling inflation and economic meltdown. (If the thought of Britain's involvement in controversial foreign wars while suffering an economic crisis might remind the reader of a few contemporary parallels, there is little doubt that is exactly what CJ Sansom intends.) Against this tumultuous backdrop, the lawyer Matthew Shardlake is presented with a difficult case via an elderly servant of Queen Catherine Parr which will plunge him into the labyrinthine toils of the King's Court of Wards. Shardlake’s job is to look into wrongs which have been done to the young ward Hugh Curteys by a Hampshire landowner, and (as is customary with most cases involving Shardlake) violent death is soon on the agenda, as the threat of war lours. Readers of CJ Sansom will know exactly what to expect here, and all the usual pleasures afforded by this massively talented writer are satisfyingly on offer. If Heartstone is not quite vintage Sansom, that is perhaps because the author has set (and maintained) such a high standard. But what the novel provides in terms of reach and achievement is streets ahead of most of his contemporaries. --Barry ForshawRead More

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  • Joanne Leddington30 September 2010

    Heartstone is the fifth novel in CJ Sansom's excellent Matthew Shardlake series.

    Set two years after the events of Revelation, Heartstone begins in the summer of 1545 as England is preparing for war. Henry VIII's insatiable desire for power and glory led him to invade France but his army was defeated and now a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel and take advantage of England's weakened position. The English fleet is being mustered at Portsmouth and desperate steps are being taken throughout the country to raise the largest militia army ever called upon. Times are especially tough as Henry VIII had debased the currency in order to pay for his invasion folly and the people of England are struggling as inflation spirals out of control.

    Lawyer Matthew Shardlake knows that his disability as well as his age means that he will not be called up for service with the militia but he is worried about the future for his assistant Barack. Fortunately a summons reaches them from Queen Catherine Parr, a lady who owes Shardlake a favour, asking Shardlake to investigate claims of 'monsterous wrongs' that are alleged to have been committed against a ward of the court. Shardlake and Barack travel to Portsmouth to investigate the matter and, as the city prepares for war, Shardlake uses the trip as an opportunity to investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a woman incarcerated in Bedlam who Shardlake became acquainted with during the events of Revelation. As the incidents involving the young ward and the mysterious circumstances of Ellen Fettipace's family begin to draw together and the King's great warships prepare for battle, Matthew Shardlake is forced to confront both an old friend and an old enemy.

    Although Heartstone begins slowly with a great deal of exposition, the pace soon hots up and tension builds throughout this terrific novel as Shardlake winds his way towards the thrilling denouncement aboard the Mary Rose. I'm still just as fond of Mathew Shardlake as I was when I read the first book in this series, in him CJ Sansom has created an excellent and believable hero. His character continues to grow and Heartstone offers an opportunity to witness the worst aspects of Tudor life and to see just how difficult it is for kind and just people such as Matthew Shardlake to survive and uphold their principles during the turbulent reign of Henry VIII. Samson has once again managed to bring the Tudor times to life with vivid detail and a huge amount of interesting incidental information. The mystery this time round was just as twisting and complex as I had hoped and I only managed to unravel it myself just before Shardlake laid out all of the facts for us.

    I don't believe that there is a date for the book yet although I certainly hope that there will be one. Even though Matthew Shardlake is getting older and increasingly world-weary, I still believe he has a lot more mystery solving in him. Princess Elizabeth features slightly in Heartstone and it would be interesting to see if she will play a larger role in future Shardlake books.

  • Amazon

    Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel ...Meanwhile, Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr.

  • Play

    Summer 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel ...Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of 'monstrous wrongs' committed against his young ward Hugh Curteys by Sir Nicholas Hobbey Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. There Shardlake also intends to investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettiplace a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. Once in Portsmouth Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing for war. The mysteries surrounding the Hobbey family and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Soon events will converge on board one of the king's great warships gathered in Portsmouth harbour waiting to sail out and confront the approaching French fleet...

  • TheBookPeople

    Bestselling author C.J. Sandom 's Heartstone tells the story of Henry VIII's invasion of France in 1545. An invasion that has gone badly wrong and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. Meanwhile, Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Soon events will converge on board one of the king's great warships gathered in Portsmouth harbour, waiting to sail out and confront the approaching French fleet... A thrilling read for anyone interested in historical fiction!

  • ASDA

    It was summer 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war.

  • Blackwell

    Shardlake goes to war ... Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel ...Meanwhile, Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case...

  • 1405092734
  • 9781405092739
  • C. J. Sansom
  • 3 September 2010
  • Mantle
  • Hardcover (Book)
  • 450
  • First Edition 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

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