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Summary

Dissolution: the first book in the best-selling Shardlake series. It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066.

Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church. The country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. And under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries.

There can only be one outcome: dissolution. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's Commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege.

Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell to uncover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea. But investigation soon forces Shardlake to question everything that he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes....

©2003 C. J. Sansom (P)2014 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

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Time Travellers Beware.....

What made the experience of listening to Dissolution the most enjoyable?

This novel is so well written that you are immediately sucked into the turbulent world of Tudor England and the dissolution of the monasteries. Prior to this I had not read much historical fiction set within this period - preferring true history to fiction - however through the use of Shardlake's role as lawyer and his outsider status derived from his hunch back Sansom is able to present the whole scale of Tudor society rather than focusing solely on the highest classes. Real insight is therefore given into the lives of ordinary people and new perspectives on the upper classes than those shown in the non-fiction I have read.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Shardlake himself I think - despite a tendency to appraise all women as either 'pretty' or 'not-pretty' he is a very human character. His sympathies may sometimes seem a little out of sync with the historical time in which he lives but, by suspending ones disbelief, this only serves to make his character more endearing.

Which character – as performed by Steven Crossley – was your favourite?

Although yet to appear until later in the series; Barrack (not sure that's spelt correctly - one problem with audio reading) was performed so well by Steven Crossley. Although, speaking of the entire series, I did notice that the narrator changes his style completely by book 4 - so much so I was convinced the novels were no longer being performed by Steven Crossley. I cannot understand why this was done as it interrupted the flow of the series somewhat while I tried to get used to the new character voices.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Excellent historical & mystery drama

I enjoyed this immensely. The historical background is well drawn and the issues and ideas at stake are dealt with clearly and with suitable accuracy. The writing has just enough idiom from the time to make the narrative convincing, and the performance exploits this to the full. I am no a great fan of Shardlake!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Hilary Mantel meets Umberto Eco

Historical crime drama, another Shardrake novel. Interesting and very well researched. My first but not my last and I will look for more in the series but not for a while

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Shardlake rules!

An intriguing and frightening vision of Tudor England!!! Shardlake is an excellent character and the plotting is superb. I was completely immersed. If you've never read C.J.Sansom, start with this. Steven Crossley's narration is absolutely spot on.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A compelling story

What did you like most about Dissolution?

I enjoyed the balance of period writing and whodunnit story. The historical elements add interest but never take over the story.

What about Steven Crossley’s performance did you like?

He really brought to life the character of Matthew Shardlake and provided distinctive voices for the other characters, too. He provides a menacing voice for Thomas Cromwell which helps to evoke the fear that pervaded that period.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Robyn
  • attached to my headphones
  • 27-03-15

Interesting history

A well researched historical novel. The editors write up will give you the timeline, so I won't go into that here. It's an interesting window onto this period in our history, and I learned a good few things.

Well written, well narrated, and although somewhat predictable, it's still to be recommended if historical novels are your thing.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Read

This is the first book I have read about this period of history and it is fascinating. The narrator is excellent and I am looking forward to reading more about Shardlake's adventures.

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addictive monotone

The story was great; the voice was sadly monotone. I would certainly listen to the trilogy as the characters are richly bought out and are worth following. Also, the description of the islands is very good. I just wish the reader were more dynamic in his acting.

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Very good read

Excellent read. Good descriptive detail takes you right there. Another great sansom read. I've read them all but listening takes you right to the centre.

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A very enjoyable story well read.

The novel gives great insight into the political issues of the time. I look forward to listening to the others book in the series.
The narrator was excellent giving believable characterisation to the people in the story.