vrijdag 24 oktober 2014

C. J. Sansom: Dark Fire


Dark Fire is the second novel in the Shardlake Series by C. J. Sansom. I bought the second and the fourth novel at the Boekenfestijn.
I didn’t read the first one so I can’t compare them yet.
I have read two of his other novels though: Winter in Madrid and Dominion and I loved those.
My copy of Dark Fire has a beautiful cover and it counts 581 pages.

I started this novel at the beginning of the month but I couldn’t concentrate on it at the time so I had to put it aside.

“It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .
The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered – the formula has disappeared.
Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems . . .”

I wasn’t blown away by this novel because it’s not perfect, but I liked it.
Sansom is a fantastic writer and this is a really lovely novel.
The mysteries are rather weak and Sansom could've cut 150 pages easily. The pace of the story did annoy me at times.There were a lot of unimportant meetings, talking and traveling that weren't helping the story forward.
I love the setting of this novel. It’s rich, full of details, an astoundingly well-rounded historical background and wonderful descriptions. But it is never too much, I didn’t get lost in the details.
Unlike Hilary Mantel and many others, Sansom made a fictional character the main-character and real historical figures play only supporting roles.
I like it this way better.I find it easier to set the truth apart from fiction.
Shardlake and Barak are perfect together. Guy is a wonderful character and the other supporting characters are very well thought out. They all have their distinct voice.

Happy reading.

Pie from the bakery my great-grandfather founded and a book!