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C.J. Sansom is an an accomplished historical novelist, and his latest volume has been nominated for the Sir Walter Scott Prize. It might be better dubbed ‘Tomeland’ as it is a whopping 854 pages long. No quick Ellis Peters or Paulm Doherty medieval read this volume! The volume came out in the States in January of this year, and I have been reading and reading it for weeks. It recounts the events of 1549 in England, specifically the abolition of the Latin Mass coupled with the emergence of worship entirely in English. This event, plus social upheaval caused by the wealthy ‘enclosing’ common land previously used by the poor and working class to grow crops and raise animals led to various uprising and rebellions throughout the South and Midlands portions of England, the largest of which transpired in the late summer of 1549 in Norwich. The title of the book comes from an area in the center of Norwich, and recounts especially the actions of Robert Kett and his organization of the local rebellion which involved an actual pitched battle between the forces of the Crown and the ‘gentlemen’ and some 6,000 or more peasants, yeomen, ex-soldiers who had deserted from the war with the Scots, and others.
As usual Matthew Shardlake, lawyer supreme is in the middle and the mix of things, doing an investigation of a murder in Norwich of a relative of young Lady Elizabeth (later to be queen) in whose employ Shardlake found himself. The story also involves Barak, Matthew’s familiar partner in adventure as...
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It had only one fault, it was useless.