Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom is the second book in the Matthew Shardlake series and the story takes place in 1540, just before Thomas Cromwell’s downfall. I didn’t hear about Dark Fire or Greek Fire before reading this book and that was very interesting. From this book I also learned a few things regarding the justice system at that time, and it was both shocking and informative.

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

The book, just like the first one, is very engaging and interesting. His style of writing is very nice and despite his very long books, these are a delight to read. By the end of this book he finds himself a new trusted assistant, who will appear in the next book too. I like Shardlake’s determination to find out the truth and his personal struggles with religion. While these struggles are not the main theme of the story, it makes him a more rounded character and the story more realistic and fascinating. As the story evolves, Shardlake has to consider his allegiances and if he is willing to give Cromwell and Henry VIII weapons of mass destruction.

The only thing I didn’t like in the book was the assumption that Anne of Cleves was smelly and ugly, just because Henry VIII said that. She was 25 while he was an obese 50 year old with a suppurating ulcer on his leg… I don’t know how they smelled, but I can take an educated guess and assume she was better. Also, he complained she was not a virgin by looking at her naked… before marrying Catherine Howard who was definitely not a virgin, but he didn’t manage to see that. We need to take into consideration that there might have been a bit of propaganda at that time. This wasn’t in any way influential in the book, so I didn’t mark it down. It’s more a pet peeve of mine.

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

Details about the picture: Books and libraries are a part of the story, so I thought it would be nice to have some books in the background.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Penguin Books
Year it was published: 2005
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Pages: 501

About the author: Christopher John Sansom is an English writer of crime novels. Born in 1952, he gained a BA and a PhD in history at the University of Birmingham. He worked as a solicitor, in Sussex, before deciding to work as a full-time writer.
He is known for his series of mystery historical fiction novels taking place in the 16th century. The main character is hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake. An adaptation of Dissolution is commissioned by the BBC and the others might follow. Winter in Madrid is a thriller set in 1940 Spain and deals with the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
Matthew Shardlake series: Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation, Tombland.
Website & Social Media Links: –



1 thought on “Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom”

  • Loved your “guess” about who probably smelled worse! 😉 (and I’d wager you’re absolutely right!) I’m glad you’re enjoying these. I feel they’re very intelligent books that offer a lot of good information about the time. Matthew Shardlake is such a well-developed character who comes across as a real person. He’s one of my favorite fictional characters.
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