Dissolution: the first book in the best-selling Shardlake series. It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066.
Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church. The country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. And under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries.
There can only be one outcome: dissolution. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's Commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege.
Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell to uncover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea. But investigation soon forces Shardlake to question everything that he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes....
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Time Travellers Beware.....
This novel is so well written that you are immediately sucked into the turbulent world of Tudor England and the dissolution of the monasteries. Prior to this I had not read much historical fiction set within this period - preferring true history to fiction - however through the use of Shardlake's role as lawyer and his outsider status derived from his hunch back Sansom is able to present the whole scale of Tudor society rather than focusing solely on the highest classes. Real insight is therefore given into the lives of ordinary people and new perspectives on the upper classes than those shown in the non-fiction I have read.
Shardlake himself I think - despite a tendency to appraise all women as either 'pretty' or 'not-pretty' he is a very human character. His sympathies may sometimes seem a little out of sync with the historical time in which he lives but, by suspending ones disbelief, this only serves to make his character more endearing.
Although yet to appear until later in the series; Barrack (not sure that's spelt correctly - one problem with audio reading) was performed so well by Steven Crossley. Although, speaking of the entire series, I did notice that the narrator changes his style completely by book 4 - so much so I was convinced the novels were no longer being performed by Steven Crossley. I cannot understand why this was done as it interrupted the flow of the series somewhat while I tried to get used to the new character voices.
Excellent historical & mystery drama
- Peter Weatherby