Revelation by C. J. Sansom

Revelation by C. J. Sansom is the fourth book in the Matthew Shardlake series. The story happens in 1543, when King Henry VIII is wooing Catherine Parr. Archbishop Cranmer and Protestant faction at court are hoping the match is a success, as she is known for her reformist sympathies.

Matthew Shardlake is representing a teenage boy, a religious maniac who was kept at Bedlam. On top of that, a dear friend of his is gruesomely murdered. He gets involved in the investigation and there is a connection between the boy and the murder.

Revelation by C. J. Sansom

The whole concept was fascinating. It is based, as the name of the book suggests, with the prophesies from the book of Revelation. An ex-monk who becomes a serial-killer. The investigators struggle with their own superstitions, talking about witchcraft and demonic possession.

I gave the book 5 stars, but I think he makes Shardlake too much of an agnostic and, also, others at the court were believed to be agnostic or atheists. That for me is a bit of a stretch, as in the 16th century, before the idea of enlightenment and the belief that scientific knowledge is achievable, I don’t think there were many agnostic in the modern sense. Furthermore, I don’t think anybody would have been open about this, due to the risk of being burned by Catholics or hanged by Protestants. But, this is a historical fiction, and I’m not too bothered by this, surely it doesn’t mean I would deduct 0.5 stars for this.

Revelation by C. J. Sansom

Details about the picture: My husband kindly suggested to be a hand-model for this book, after I said I don’t have any nail polish on. He was right, a man’s hand looks better in this context anyway. Taking this picture was hilarious, as you can imagine.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: MacMillan
Year it was published: 2008
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Historical Fiction
Pages: 551

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.
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2 thoughts on “Revelation by C. J. Sansom”

  • Though I’ve yet to read a Shardlake novel I didn’t find excellent, I think this is my favorite of the series so far. I loved the connections to the book of Revelation. In my opinion, the “agnostic” views of those during this time were perhaps more of a lapse of faith in general. I think there might have been a lot of “fence sitters”, not knowing which way the mood would swing (between Protestant and Catholic), therefore playing it safe by not expressing any deep beliefs one way or the other. Of course I could be entirely wrong! I feel that Matthew struggles greatly with faith, in general, and that’s part of what makes him such a real character for me.

    Nice modeling job by your husband. 😉

    • You are right about the fence sitters, playing it safe and not committing to a view or another, and who can blame them. Even well known conservatives like Gardiner were going with the flow during Henry and Edward’s reign, only to show their true beliefs under Mary. Also, a lot of priests kept their posts despite deep religious changes.
      In my opinion, most people at that time observed religious practices because they liked the show of the mass and beauty of the Catholic churches, and as an insurance (as in: I pray to save my crops, in case it works), but were not too concerned by doctrines. Even many of the radicals burned under Mary couldn’t say a proper catechism or were fully aware of the sacraments.

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