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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.

What listeners say about Dissolution

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!

21 people found this helpful

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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.

39 people found this 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.

14 people found this 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.

12 people found this helpful

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Quite brilliant

A brilliant novel read by a superb narrator - hugely enjoyable. A story that I can listen to again and again.

9 people found this 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.

7 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 16-02-18

Engaging

It seems to be a trait that historical fiction devolves into either a lecture or becomes overly didactic. This novel does not do this. The plot is lively but not too dense; the mystery was intriguing and tension well managed The characters are original and realistic so their various idiosyncrasies and faults are endearing rather than objectionable, unless of course they are meant to be in the case of the revolting Prior. The main character, Shardlake is crafted in an original way and is a stark reminder that times are hard for those who are different in most periods of history but even more so in centuries past.

This is set in a period (1500s) that I am not overly familiar with, so I found the historical setting and detail interesting. In fact, I found that the authorial position was refreshingly balanced -it was nice to see both the reformist and Catholic positions during this turbulent time in history being given what seemed an un-biased treatment.

The narration was polished, consistent and perfectly suited to this novel.

I am looking forward to the next books in the series.

4 people found this helpful

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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.

11 people found this helpful