Saturday, 6 June 2015

Lamentation, C. J. Sansom

Publisher: Pan

Pages: 706

Main Characters:

Mathew Shardlake, John Barak, Queen Catherine Parr

Lamentation is the long awaited sixth addition to C. J. Sansom's epic Shardlake series. The novel is set in 16th Century England at time when the country was going through numerous religious changes at the whim of King Henry VIII. The rich and powerful of the country are divided into two different sects, the Conservatives and Reformers, whom both wish to have the ear of the King and influence his religious doctrine. People are being declared heretics by the state and the most radical reformers are burnt at Tyburn, as the King seems to be retracing his steps to the Church of Rome. England and especially London is not a safe place to live for anyone who questions the Old Faith.

Trying to avoid the religious divide is lawyer Mathew Shardlake whom after helping the Queen of England a year ago, is trying to stay out of matters of state. However, when a knock on his door in the middle of night reveals a young lawyer named William Cecil, Shardlake is quickly drawn back into the intrigue of the Royal Court. Cecil takes him to Whitehall to meet with his Master- Lord Parr. Once again, Shardlake is thrown into the cut-throat world of the English Crown as it is revealed his old Mistress (Queen Catherine Parr) is in mortal danger because of a book she secretly wrote.

The book is called Lamentation of a Sinner in which the Queen confesses that she has sinned during her life but through studying the bible and prayer to Jesus, she has repented her sins and will try and live a virtuous life. Although the book is not technically heresy, the fact the Queen wrote it without telling the King could easily be declared treason and with Henry’s short temper and love of beheadings, it could end badly for the Queen. Especially when her unpublished manuscript is stolen from her chambers! Shardlake is tasked with finding out who stole the manuscript but is on limited time because if the book is published by the thieves ,it will be the end of the Queen, the reformers and Mathew Shardlake.

Once again C. J. Sansom does not fail to impress with his new novel. It seems like forever ago that his last novel in the series Heartstone came out and I actually didn’t realised he’d realised a new book until I bumped into this one in a book shop! The book was extremely tense and well written. I love how Sansom portrays 16th Century London. His research into the street layouts and how he describes them really makes you feel you’re walking the city with Shardlake and Barak.

In addition, the novel has so many different levels of intrigue to it. There’s the mystery behind the book theft, a murder and an old family quarrel which Shardlake tries to solve throughout the book. Sansom builds and builds the tension all the way through the book leading to a big reveal near the end. But for me, the reveal was a little disappointing and kind-of average. However, that is until you read a little further on and find out who the real puppet master is in the novel and his confrontation with Shardlake is awesome!

This series of books is one of my favourite and is easily on par with series like A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. There’s the same level of intrigue, back stabbing and murder which I think is great, so if you love watching and reading A Game of Thrones then definitely check out the first book in this series Dissolution.

For author’s website click here.

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