Sovereign

Yesterday morning after dropping off my husband at the airport at 5 a.m. but before going to work I finished Sovereign by C.J. Sansom, the third in his Matthew Shardlake series. As with the Ariana Franklin I liked it the best so far — a nice feeling; I wonder if the writers improve as they go along or if I just get familiar with and fond of the characters and setting? Anyway in this book Shardlake finally has to deal with the Big Cahuna himself, Henry VIII, as the aging, ailing king takes himself and his latest young wife, Catherine Howard, on a progress to York. The northern city had recently harbored rebels and Henry is there to remind them of their loyalty and his power. Shardlake is there to help deal with petitions to the king (he’s a lawyer) and, secretly, to make sure a rebel prisoner makes it back to London in good enough shape to be tortured in the Tower of London. There’s a lot of consideration of torture in this book — as there was in Patricia Finney’s first book in her series, Firedrake’s Eye — and it’s no mystery why the subject would be of interest to current novelists and readers. But in neither case is the point belabored. I’m giving this one an AB. And looking forward to Revelation, the fourth in the series, and the only one we have in the Monroe County Public Library collection (and not in Key West, either, so don’t come there expecting to find it on the shelves).

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