Revelation by C. J. Sansom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Revelation by C.J. Sansom is one of a series of novels centered around the character Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer during the reign of Henry VIII. It is a time of religious fanaticism with England divided into two camps: the reformers and the advocates of the old traditions “...a sort of Catholicism without the Pope...” A number of gruesome murders occur, one of which affects Shardlake's circle of friends causing him to be personally involved in the need to find the killer.
I haven't read any of the other books in this series, but this one stood on its own quite well. The sixteenth century setting is what makes this novel a great read. Much of the story takes place in Westminster Abbey. It was fascinating to step back into that scene. But the other areas were interesting as well. Learning about the inn in which the lawyers lived and worked was intriguing as was getting a picture of the home and office of Guy Malton, a doctor and good friend of Shardlake's. In addition to the setting, learning about the politics of the time was fascinating. The king was all powerful, so getting him to lean one way or the other in the battle between the religious sects was important to all the characters.
The other aspect of this novel that I appreciated was the way Sansom wove biblical thought and prophecy into his story. Rather than touching the issue of the truth or falsity of prophecy, he looked on extreme religious belief as motivation and rationalization behind the actions of most everyone in the story. Religion affects everyone's lives from the government officials, to the ex monks, to a young boy who is confined to Bedlam because he will not stop praying.
This book is a good choice for readers interested in mysteries and period pieces.
Steve Lindahl, author of Motherless Soul
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