Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tombland.. a review

Just back from a week on a sun bed in Cyprus ..  much needed as it's been somewhat of an "annus horribilis" in the Steve the Wargamer domicile, and suffice to say that out of three holidays we had arranged this year, this was the only one that we actually managed to go on..! 

Not surprisingly therefore the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and I did ABSOLUTELY nothing for the whole holiday other than trundle from bed to food to sunbed to food to bed while very much enjoying the late season sunshine, oh, and drinking a few Keo's.. such an environment of course is ideal for the consumption of large numbers of books, and the Kindle got a right bashing...

First on the list then, a welcome return for Matthew Shardlake in the latest of the series by the inestimable C. J. Sansom..  been a long wait for this book, and I read somewhere that it is because the author has been ill (for which my best wishes), but without a doubt the wait was worth it, as this is an absolute blinder of  book..

So for this those who aren't aware, the book series is written around the activities of Sergeant at Law Matthew Shardlake, and is set in the late Tudor period, around the last years of Henry VIII, and the succession - Shardlake is a conscientious lawyer, and is approached by people in power (in the earlier books he works for both Cromwell and Moore) when they need something investigating from a legal perspective and in this book, with Henry dead, his patron is the young Princess Elizabeth. One of Elizabeth's distant relatives has been accused of murder and she asks Shardlake to represent him in court, and to investigate the veracity of the charges bought against him..

One of the joys of this series is that Shardlake is no Jack Reacher, he is human, he has a spinal deformity that causes pain, he is getting old, he gets tired, he occasionally gets crotchety, so the work Elizabeth asks him to do is not easy as it requires travel to Norwich in a time of great social unease in England..  Edward (Henry's successor) is only 6 so the country is ruled by a council of powerful men, but power has devolved to one of them who is fixated on (a failed) war with Scotland, the country is bankrupt as a result of paying for the war, inflation is rife, wages are static, and there is an increasing move to enclose land to farm sheep for their wool..  not surprisingly civil tensions are rising, and shortly after Shardlake arrives in Norfolk, rebellion breaks out..

The book is largely then about the investigation, but is also about the civil rising lead by Robert Kett [clicky] (so this was 1549) - packed full of period colour, a damn good murder mystery, social history, and military history (the rebels were eventually defeated in a pitched battle just outside Norwich - the depiction of the battle is brilliant), this book is an absolute triumph and I recommend it and the rest of the series without reserve...  Steve the Wargamer rates this one 10+ out of 10

11 comments:

  1. Hi Steve,

    I shall look out for this as my in laws live at Sprowston which is in walking distance of Mousehold Coomon where the rebels had a large camp and launched the attack on Norwich. there is a part of the old part of Norwich called Tombland.

    I agree about Cyprus and Keo - you can buy it in the UK from larger branches of Tesco (although without the sunshine at present!).

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. David - the descriptions of the rebel camp on Mousehold Common feature heavily as for a time following capture Shardlake is made to help Kett with legal advice as part of the mock trials of the gentry they held.. they think that the final one of the three battles they fought with regular troops was probably on the lower slopes of the common (Dussindale was a common name so the actual location is still disputed)... as to Tombland Google maps allows a virtual stroll round the modern Tombland.. the inn where some of the characters in the book stay is still there.. anyway - as you can guess I recommend the book greatly, and a photo blog if you get a chance to get to Mousehold would be interesting!

      PS. Keo is designed for sunshine and sunbeds, bit like Mythos, and San Miguel, and etc.. tastes pants in the UK on a cold grey wet miserable day.. :o))

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  2. Steve
    Glad that you and Mrs Steve got away this time. I’ve enjoyed this series and will look out for this v9lume.
    Peter

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    1. Peter - thanks - not as much as we were pleased to get away! Book very much recommended...

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  3. The CJ Sansom Shardlake series are fantastic. I really enjoyed Tombland.

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    1. Simon - he's a master story teller - that's something that isn't always present in adult fiction..

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  4. I do love the Shardlake stories.
    Most historical fiction is either poor history or poor fiction, Sansom's books manage to be (to my mind at least) both accurate in their rendition of Tudor times AND page turning "detective" novels.
    Looking forward to reading this one

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    1. TWD.. amen, brother... the best historical fiction tells you something about the period the book is set in as well as entertaining... this series does it in spades..

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  5. Oh, never heard of this series! As a lawyer who likes historical fiction it sounds idea! Although I would have to resist the Assault Group's Tudor range...

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    1. Legatus, right up your street.. I sense a new blog already.. :o)

      PS. Have you seen this blog... EXQUISITE work... http://stuartsworkbench.blogspot.com/

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