Book Review: Sovereign by C.J. Sansom

Book 3 of the “Shardlake” series

One year after the events of “Dark Fire”, Shardlake and his new assistant Jack Barak travel to York ahead of the Royal entourage where Henry VIII will accept the surrender of the rebels. Cromwell is now dead but Shardlake finds himself accosted by Thomas Cranmer who sends him to York to fulfill a secret mission taking charge of a high profile prisoner. Yet when one of the city’s glazier’s is found murdered, it leads Shardlake into an intrigue surrounding the contents of some papers, the glazier and the royal family.

The years following Henry VIII’s reformation was a tumultuous period and the rebellion in the north gives Sansom a perfect excuse to get out of London and give us the opportunity to “see” Tudor York. Clearly, historical accuracy is important to Sansom and he is careful to craft his story around actual events of the time. Wisely, Henry VIII does not make an appearance yet we feel his presence through firstly Cromwell and then Cranmer.

As with the two previous books in the series, “Sovereign” is constructed well with a deep and engaging plot that creates more layers before you can begin to hope to get answers. “Sovereign” is not as confusing as “Dark Fire” and once again, it is not easy for the reader to figure out the mystery. Sansom stands above many other historically based crime thrillers, this series is amongst the best.



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