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Summary

Shardlake goes to war...

Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII's invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel . . .Meanwhile, Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr.

Asked to investigate claims of ‘monstrous wrongs' committed against his young ward, Hugh Curteys, by Sir Nicholas Hobbey, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. There, Shardlake also intends to investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettiplace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. Once in Portsmouth, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing for war.

The mysteries surrounding the Hobbey family and the events that destroyed Ellen's family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Soon events will converge on board one of the king's great warships gathered in Portsmouth harbour, waiting to sail out and confront the approaching French fleet. . .

©2010 C. J. Sansom (P)2014 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

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A Dark and Enthralling blend of fact and fiction

What did you like most about Heartstone?

This is another of the Shardlake tales with its mixture of fiction set against a background of actual events that are blended seamlessly and engagingly.
This installment in the saga deals with gender issues and one of the great tragedies of British naval history: the loss of the Mary Rose. The account of the final hours of the vessel are harrowing and the reader feels there with Shardlake aboard the doomed vessel and her crew.Several narrative threads are brought together by the end of the novel and the story of Ellen, the woman confined in Bedlam is resolved.
While there is happiness for some characters there is deep tragedy for others and Matthew Shardlake finds himself confronting the seemingly invulnerable Richard Rich yet again.
The characters are fully rounded and the pace never falters. Highly recommended to lovers of fine fiction.

Have you listened to any of Steven Crossley’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Steven Crossley's narration is excellent as he captures the male characters superbly, however, his attempts with the female characters are less successful, but perhaps it is setting expectations too high.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The book kept me enthralled from start to finish.

Any additional comments?

I can't wait to hear the next installment!

3 people found this helpful

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gripping story

Another great story from the Tudor sleuth. Excellent narration takes you right into the streets of Tudor England until you can almost her the shouts and smell the foul stenches.

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An excellent story

This was the first book in this series I have heard and i have to say it was brilliant. The story was captivating and very cleverly done I loved the references to real events such as the Mary Rose and King Henry’s wives . The narrator was perfect for this book. I couldn’t wait to hear the next chapter every day . Highly recommend.

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The Fifth Masterpiece in the Series

This, the 5th in the Shardlake Series by the incomparable CJ Sansom, was another page turning read. The series gets stronger each book.

We join our hero and his amazing sidekick, Barak, a year on from Henry V111's marriage to the highly regarded and respected Katheryn Parr. Henry has, for the third time, waged war with the French and we join the story at the point where the English, now in charge of Calais, are in the midst of the Siege of Boulogne.

The French are sending their vast Armada of Galleys and Warships as England prepares with thousands of soldiers, archers and sailers and its less adequate fleet which is anchored in the Solent and the Harbour of Portsmouth. Yet again, Henry places England at risk from a superior enemy as his ego is now even larger than this ageing Monarch he become.

The Queen who has afforded Shardlake her protection, asks him if he will investigate the unlikely suicide of the son of one of her servants.

The investigation will afford him the opportunity to look into the past of another of his 'charges' (unrelated to the main mystery) which will weave the stories into each other bringing in the rich stock of characters from previous books.

Barak's character gets wiser and stronger in this book and the wonderful relationship between Master and Assistant becomes even more compelling. As does the readers relationship with many of the repeating characters. There are moments of anger, compassion and sadness.

Once again Sansom fits his fictional story into genuine historical events and people and gives us a tale full of intrigue and possibilities. The supreme mind of Shardlake unravels all and solves the mysteries which I challenge most to second guess.

Again you are transported to a time a place vividly described by the author and richly narrated, again, by the wonderful Steven Crossley. 

If I could rate these books higher than 5 stars I would.

My only upset is that there are only two books left. I will be bereft when they are finished, I am sure.

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A Masterclass of Historical fiction

C J Sansom has become a master of his craft, his weaving of Shardlake's progress through key events in Britain's history is both subtle and seamless. Heartstone has lead me to research more about the period, such is my interest.

Having lived in Portsmouth, I greatly enjoyed recognising geographical locations and events detailed in the story.

Each of the Shardlake Novels differ greatly in subject, so you never get the feeling of repetition even though this is the 5th story so far. The continuation of various characters becomes a reward for sticking with the series, as each are rich and complex.

I am eager to read more of Shardlake's adventures.

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Just perfect

Brilliant story brilliant narrator loved this audible book, I did read some of the book from the paperback and some from audible and that was just perfect, I could easily swap between mediums by using the chapter guide on audible, I’ve just downloaded the next in the series to do the same, I listen to audible when I’m tired and don’t want to watch tv, the narrator of this book does great voices for each character it takes you into Samson’s 16th century world as if you are watching a movie, it’s like you are there and cos you can listen without having to read yourself it seems so much more intense and real, I suppose it shows up the quality of the writing, the story was slow but still engaged me then sped up after half way and I didn’t guess the ending, always a plus 😀 yes you know the type of story it’s going to be for the endearing hunchback lawyer but that’s what I sign up for, and there’s so much more around that basic premise that keeps you enthralled, some real factual history brought to life too. I just don’t want this series of books to ever end.

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Another clever weave

Addictive and absorbing. Lovely weave of character and plot. Unbelievable coincidences in this one spoiled the last tenth

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Shardlake triumphs again.

I read the first four books in paperback. They translate well to the spoken format, although the maps to be found on the C J Sansom website are a welcome aid to picturing the peregrinations of Shardlake around Southern England. I would also recommend a trip to the Mary Rose museum at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Whether this would be more enjoyable before or after the book I don't know. I visited it before, but I might return.

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Very enjoyable

This is the first time I’ve listened to an audiobook and I throughly enjoyed it! C.J. Sansom has outdone himself yet again. However the narrator could have been better. At times Crossley’s attempts at accents was down right laughable!

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I just love these stories

c j Samson is a wonderful story teller. the characters are brilliant and steven crossley narration is just right. the added facts about Tudor life are a great bonus.