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Anyone enjoying C. J.Sansom's books?

(64 Posts)
HappydaysArehere Thu 21-Apr-16 01:14:41

Found one of these books lurking unread on one of my bookshelves. Read it and went and bought all the books in the Matthew Shardlake series. I am now addicted to this Tudor lawyer/detective working for Cromwell, etc in a London and elsewhere in England which is full of the smells, atmosphere and historical information of the time. He is a hunchback, so suffers emotionally and physically which adds to the complexity of the character but it is the wonderful, historical facts which emerge alongside his investigations that I really enjoy. The first in the series is Dissolution. I am on to my fourth at the present time. So, anyone else enjoying them? I do hope so.

MermaidofZennor Thu 21-Apr-16 06:40:32

Just finished reading the series last week. Loved them, but did think Lamentation was a bit over long. Good story, though. You'll find lots of fans of the series on here smile Have you read S J Parris's series beginning with Heresy? I enjoyed those as well.

squoosh Thu 21-Apr-16 12:17:49

Yes I'm a big fan! I adore Matthew and worry for him grin

They're so good aren't they at evoking that time period? I'm no expert but it feels real. I think my favourite is Sovereign, but any of the first four are brilliant really. I have to say though that the last two books, Heartstone and Lamentation aren't quite as good as their predecessors, still very readable though. Impatiently waiting for the next one though I suspect it will probably be a couple of years.

There are so many CJ Sansom copycats around that just aren't anywhere near as good. I tried to read Rory Clement's book Martyr which is set in Elizabeth's reign. Absolute tosh! Chucked it away after a few pages. Haven't looked at SJ Parris but I'm inclined not to as it's clearly trying to piggy back on CJ's success.

squoosh Thu 21-Apr-16 12:19:16

And I'd LOVE to see it televised, but only if they did it justice and didn't cut corners. I have Toby Jones in mind to play Shardlake.

MermaidofZennor Thu 21-Apr-16 13:09:30

I'd have to disagree with you, squoosh. I don't want to see them adapted for television. I don't like Toby Jones and thought he ruined the character of Roger in the adaptation of John Lanchester's novel Capital recently. I don't see him as Shardlake at all. If anyone were to play him then Anton Lesser I think could do it. But I still don't think I would want to watch them.

I think my favourites of the series have been Sovereign and Revelation. Heartstone was good but it started to drag with all the military detail. And Lamentation just needed a heavier edit.

fatowl Thu 21-Apr-16 16:34:59

I've read the first two and number 3 (Sovereign) is nearing the top of the "to read" pile.
Loved them, but preferred Dissolution to Dark Fire (mainly because I was more interested in the boy in the well murder which became a sub plot by the end.

Interesting what you say about Martyr Squoosh- that keeps coming up as a recommended read for me and was thinking about it.

Trying to persuade DH to read them

I've read them all several times. I think it's an excellent series and often recommend it.

Trooperslane Thu 21-Apr-16 20:49:55

I love them! Amazing and agree with PP I feel I'm in that era when I'm reading them.

cdtaylornats Thu 21-Apr-16 21:24:05

In 2012 BBC Radio 4 adapted Dissolution into a 10-part radio serial, adapted by Colin MacDonald, with Jason Watkins as Shardlake and Mark Bonnar as Cromwell.BBC Radio 4 went on to broadcast Dark Fire in 2014 and Sovereign in 2015, also adapted by Colin MacDonald as 10-part serials.

They have come up on 4 Extra a couple of times

cdtaylornats Thu 21-Apr-16 21:25:41

They almost made a TV Series, the BBC were planning it in 2008 but Kenneth Branagh decided to do Wallander instead.

RoosterCogburn Thu 21-Apr-16 21:58:18

I read these last year and loved them. I love a good radio series so will have to look out for those being repeated.

KeithLeMonde Fri 22-Apr-16 08:42:41

Do you know what? I feel so stupid. I picked up an SJ Parris a few months ago and read it thinking "This is nowhere near as good as the Shardlake ones by the same author". I have a rubbish head for remembering the names of books and authors that I like, and had been completely confused by the (deliberate?) similarity in the authors' names and the book jackets.

I can confirm that (in my experience anyway) SJ Parris is nowhere near as good.

My favourite Shardlake so far (have not read all of them) was "Sovereign" - so skilfully evocative of time and place.

HappydaysArehere Fri 22-Apr-16 08:48:11

It is really great to have so many responses and to be able to share the pleasure of these great book. As for the TV' adaptations I could picture Tom Hollander as Matthew. His height is ridiculed in Sovereign by Henry V111 but his handsome face is often mentioned in the books. I started with Revelation then Sovereign followed by Dissolution and now midway into Dark Fire. The last two books are waiting in a bag under the bed. I missed the radio adaptations but perhaps I would have missed the descriptions of London etc at that time. Also Matthew's feelings and empathy we have for him may not have been so apparent on the radio! C. J. Sansom has written a couple of other books set in different eras so I am intending to get them in the near future; that is if I can drag myself from Tudor times! Must also say that I have come across accolades from historians on the subject of these books and I appreciated the author's elaboration on the historical sources he used in his writing. Thank you all for your responses.

WordGetsAround Fri 22-Apr-16 08:54:25

I absolutely love them and they are the only fiction books I preorder in hardback to get hold of asap!
Tom Hollander as Matthew might be a stroke of genius - I'll need to let it rest with me though as I love Tom Hollander (if anyone hasn't seen the BBC adaptation on Cambridge Spies with him, watch it - it is one of the best things I've seen!) and Matthew! I love the historical detail although I harbour dreams of writing a best seller, when I read Shardlake, I know I am nowhere near clever enough!

WordGetsAround Fri 22-Apr-16 08:56:03

Forgot to say I loved the radio 4 adaptations (anyone listening to the Forsyth Saga this week?).

What similar books do people read? My other favourite authors Alison Weir and Edward Rutherford.

WordGetsAround Fri 22-Apr-16 08:57:36

Sorry - last thing from me. Is anyone else's favourite bit the historical notes at the end? I love to know the fact from the fiction and the educated guesses!

HappydaysArehere Fri 22-Apr-16 08:58:54

Forgot to say that I haven't read S.J Parris but won't bother now. I must say that I have often found historical fiction to be "tosh" and this is the first time I have discovered such a sense of authenticity.

ButtfaceMiscreant Fri 22-Apr-16 09:03:50

I too enjoy CJ Sansom's Shardlake novels, and rank them amongdt my favourite books. I have also read his Winter in Madrid and do not recommend it; it is nowhere near the standard of the Shardlake novels and drags its feet. I stuck with it out of loyalty to CJ Sansom but wish I hadn't!

All my own opinion of course smile

ButtfaceMiscreant Fri 22-Apr-16 09:05:27


LucyMouse Fri 22-Apr-16 09:08:19

I too have read Winter in Madrid and really didn't get on with it, so I almost let the Shardlake series pass me by. I'm really glad I gave it a chance. Matthew is a brilliant character, and as a PP said, I really worry for him. Also I love the relationship between Matthew and Jack.

MegCleary Fri 22-Apr-16 09:10:04

Dominion is also marvellous.

Annarose2014 Fri 22-Apr-16 09:11:57

I've read every one of them but my love affair started to wane with Lamentation.

Why must Matthew be written as such a sad character? He's just so miserable all the time. And he does bring a lot of it on himself. Character X tells Matthew not to interfere, he interferes anyway, Character X gets furious, Matthew gets saaaaad.

But my patience is wearing thin. Sometimes it's genuinely none of his business! So he can make sad faces all he wants but on occasion he needs a good kick up the arse!

He's a meddler! Like when he decided in Heartstone to combine his official enquiries with a side project of digging into that poor asylum woman's past despite her obvious discomfort.

Oh and don't get me started on his romantic stuff. At this stage Sansom is clearly just going to throw unrequited crushes at him for the rest of his life. I fully expect him to fall in love with Elizabeth 1st next!

MermaidofZennor Fri 22-Apr-16 10:26:01

I'm just going to throw this thought in here and fully expect to get shot down in flames grin. Is Matthew gay? I started wondering this whilst ploughing through Lamentation (and it did start to feel a bit like ploughing unfortunately) because he, on more than one occasion, comments on how handsome he thinks his new assistant Nicholas is. I just wondered, seeing as he has no luck with women, whether maybe he was um .... secretly gay? Has anyone else thought that? Or am I alone in that thought and very very wrong? I'll shut up now before I ruin the novels for everyone blush

MermaidofZennor Fri 22-Apr-16 10:30:42

Oh, and whilst the S J Parris novels maybe aren't as historically detailed as C J Sansom's, they are good fun to read. And Giordano Bruno is a handsome, red blooded male, who has a lot more success with women grin I like them and thought they were well written. Recommended, but don't compare with Shardlake.

Annarose2014 Fri 22-Apr-16 10:36:05

I don't think he's gay, I just think he's so thirsty for lovin' he finds everyone attractive!

Seriously he needs to get laid.

But he's going to die a virgin isn't he? grin

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