Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake Series #5)

Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake Series #5)

4.0 47
by C. J. Sansom
     
 

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The #1 international bestselling author brings us his fifth Shardlake novel.

Summer, 1545. England is at war, and Matthew Shardlake is about to encounter the most politically dangerous case of his career. While a massive French fleet prepares to attack, every able-bodied man is being pressed into military service. Meanwhile, an old servant of Queen

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Overview

The #1 international bestselling author brings us his fifth Shardlake novel.

Summer, 1545. England is at war, and Matthew Shardlake is about to encounter the most politically dangerous case of his career. While a massive French fleet prepares to attack, every able-bodied man is being pressed into military service. Meanwhile, an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr asks Shardlake to investigate claims of "monstrous wrongs" committed against a young ward of the court. Shardlake's inquiries take him and his loyal assistant, Jack Barak, to Hoyland Priory and Portsmouth, where the English fleet is gathering. There they uncover a startling link between the ward and a woman incarcerated in Bedlam. With a fantastic backdrop of wartime intrigue and a dramatic finale onboard one of Henry VIII's great warships, Heartstone is certain to catapult this internationally bestselling series to greater prominence.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Few contemporary authors are as adept as Sansom at blending a whodunit with a sweeping historical epic, as shown by his fifth mystery featuring English attorney Matthew Shardlake (after 2009's Revelation). In 1545, as a French fleet threatens invasion, the English queen, Catherine Parr, asks Shardlake to look into a matter for an old servant, whose son committed suicide shortly after filing a protest about the wardship of a boy the son had tutored. Soon after accepting this assignment, Shardlake is assaulted by a gang of thugs, who warn him to drop the matter. On his own, he also probes the past of a Bedlam inmate, Ellen Fettiplace, who was institutionalized 20 years earlier after being raped. Both cases turn out to be extremely complex, and Shardlake, who puts justice above his personal interests, ends up with several murders to solve as well. Strong prose makes Tudor England instantly accessible, and the clockwork plotting sustains deep interest throughout. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Set in the summer of 1545, Sansom's fifth novel (after Revelation) in his award-winning Tudor series opens as England is tensed for a French invasion. Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer dangerously out of the King's favor, is hired by Queen Catherine Parr to investigate the death of her servant's son. On the journey south to interview witnesses, Shardlake discovers a connection between the Queen's case and a friend who was mysteriously imprisoned in Bedlam decades earlier. Familiarity with prior novels in the series is not necessary, as Sansom details Shardlake's history and troubled past with the King with the same narrative ease with which he explains England's political and legal systems and frequent warring with France. The author also expands on the riveting plot by exploring the ethical and moral considerations of the law and its interpreters. VERDICT Enjoyable for mystery, thriller, and historical fiction readers, this is also recommended to fans of all things Tudor (Showtime's The Tudors; Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl; Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall).—Catherine Lantz, Morton Coll. Lib., Cicero, IL
Kirkus Reviews

Matthew Shardlake, the hunchback serjeant of the Tudor courts, undertakes his fifthseries of cases (Revelation, 2009, etc.).

Henry VIII is marshaling forces for a war with France, but no one will conscript a crippledlawyer. Instead, Shardlake is commanded by the queen when his longtime patron,Queen Catherine, asks him to investigate corruption in the Court of Wards. Shardlake's task is togo to the Hampshire estate of the Hobbey family and investigate their custody of the teenagedHugh Curteys and his dead sister Emma. This assignment dovetails neatly with his personalobligation to an agoraphobic, Ellen Fettiplace, who cannot bring herself to leave the asylum ofBedlam. Matthew hopes to uncover the terrible events that cost her her wits, events that handilytranspired not far from the Hobbey manor. Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak ride fromLondon to Hampshire with the king's recruits, only to find that Hugh Curteys is apparentlysatisfied with his foster family. Dogged investigation of the Hobbey estate reveals nothing—untilAbigail Hobbey is shot through the head during a stag hunt. Meanwhile, a long-dead body, newlydiscovered, may hold the key to healing Ellen. Can Shardlake and Barak bring justice before theFrench invade?

The characters are sympathetic and the quirks of the historic courts interesting enough,but the plot is so tangled in the tedium of troop movements and provisions that it drags on longerthan Catherine and Henry's marriage. Best for historical sticklers, military fans andencyclopedists.

Patrick Anderson
…[this] exceptional, knock-your-socks-off…novel has it all: an ingenious plot, ceaseless suspense, villains galore, tipsy priests, a bull-baiting, a stag hunt, several murders, the horrors of war, a brooding sense of evil and a glittering portrait of a fascinating age. I rank it with Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost (1998) among the very best of recent historical thrillers.
—The Washington Post
Marilyn Stasio
Heartstone may be the best novel in this richly entertaining and reassuringly scholarly series…With his customary grace, Sansom places Shardlake's rousing fictional adventures into an authentic historical context…History never seemed so real.
—The New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670022397
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/20/2011
Series:
Matthew Shardlake Series, #5
Pages:
640
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.90(d)

Meet the Author

C.J. Sansom worked as an attorney before becoming a full-time writer. In addition to the Matthew Shardlake series, Sansom is the author of the international bestseller Winter in Madrid. He lives in Brighton, England.

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Heartstone (Matthew Shardlake Series #5) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of the books in the Shardlake series, and this one lived up to the others. It is fast paced and it keeps you guessing until the end. I have trouble with people who only give the book one star based on the nook price compared to the hardcover price. That has nothing to do with the story. I look forward to the next in the series!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sansom has taken several story lines and woven them together into a fascinating, very good whole. I very much enjoy Sansom's, and thus his character's, voice. It has a very conversational tone which immediately drew me into the story, along with the lack of prologue. His characters are somewhat atypical in that Matthew is by no means heroic. He is an interesting, appealing character who can be stubborn, intrusive and somewhat naïve in his trust of others. Yet he is also caring and determined in his pursuit of justice. In other words, he is human and fallible. As balance, you have his assistant, Barak, how married and about to be a father. It is nice to see how both characters, individually and in relationship to one another, have grown and developed through the series.  It's a lenghty tome filled with another great story and character development (bravo!) and it does not disappoint. Sansom has retained his easy style, with its smooth, delicious crafting of words. The story (no spoilers here) is superbly wrought and moves evenly along. It is, simply, a magnificent reading experience. Reading it was a delight; it was so compelling that I could have read through the 450 pages in a single sitting. Forcing myself to take it easy and enjoy it in reasonable bits, I couldn't wait to continue, but dreaded finishing the book, so engrossing was it. Investigation of the case involves travel through southern England where Shardlake also hopes to investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettiplace (an inmate of the Bedlam whom we first met in `Revelation'). Shardlake's investigations lead him into danger as he seeks to make sense of what he uncovers. Neither his investigation of Hugh Curteys's wardship nor of Ellen Fettiplace's past progress smoothly and while he receives assistance from an old friend; he also crosses his old foe, Sir Richard Rich. Ultimately, Matthew Shardlake becomes caught up in the events at Portsmouth, where the fleet is massing, and ends up aboard the Mary Rose. Matthew Shardlake is a wonderful character, and through his intelligent and principled investigations we are treated to a splendid view of Tudor life, law, history and politics. While it would be possible to read and enjoy this novel on a standalone basis, it really is best to read the novels in order to fully appreciate the characters and the setting.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the previous 4 Matthew Shardlake books and still didn't see most of the twists coming. There is a lot of attention to detail, which sometimes seems overdone, but I think the author paints a very clear picture of what is transpiring. You can almost place yourself in the novel and smell as well as see and hear what the characters are going through. Whether or not a true historian would be ok with the story, I don't know, but it seemed reasonable to me. I would, however, strongly recommend reading the others in the series in order before reading this one as I think it helps you understand the relationship between Matthew and Guy and Jack and Leacon better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Educational and entertaining--wish there were more of them. The author seems to be writing about other things now--I hope there will be more Shardlake stories in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was appealing on many levels, it had a lot of what I look for in an absorbing book that I can think about long afterwards. At times the writing was a little awkward for me but overall I would recommend it. We read it for our bookclub and generlaly people really did enjoy it, and they like all different types of books.
avidreaderEB More than 1 year ago
Overall, and enjoyable read and not at all what I was expecting. He takes his time with the imagery, which can be nice but at times comes across as long-winded. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and this is why I gave it a positive review. I felt they were nicely drawn and made me care about the novel in a way that would have seemed one-dimensional otherwise.
bearmarket More than 1 year ago
I love this series but I feel he relied too much on some old formulas to ge the result he was looking for-- and in the end, while I enjoyed the journey, was left a little unfulfilled.
hashack More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful series, would love more!!!!
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Once again, Sansom has captured my reading. The battle was a different slant and the mysteries were woven together with the historical novel. I loved it!
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